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Semantics 50 - Today The Conceptual System(cont Semantics V...

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Semantics V Sept. 19, 2011 Today… The Conceptual System (cont.) Prototypes & Prototype Theory Semantic Networks Metaphor Problems for the new semanticist Recap! We talked about… Intension & Extension Componential Analysis Fuzzy Concepts, graded membership, & prototypes Prototypes robin and ostrich are both birds BUT robin is closer to what we expect a bird to be Prototype : The best examples among the members of a category Prototypes Robin Hawk Pigeon Hummingbird Ostrich Penguin Prototypes Suggests that concepts have an internal structure The best exemplars (the most prototypical ones) are closely associated with the “core” meaning Less typical exemplars are farther away from the core meaning But can still be related to the concept (fuzzy meaning)
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Prototype Theory The human conceptual system allows for more and less typical members of a category Conceptual boundaries are often fuzzy, and can even overlap BUT we still use the core, or prototypical meaning without difficulty We do have the core concept Prototype Theory Prototype Theory : Hypothesis that people understand the meaning of words by reference to a highly typical example Robin is a prototypical bird the word bird would be thought of as involving a creature with many robin-like characteristics (e.g., ability to fly, nest-building, feathers, etc.) Compare: penguin : not at all prototypical Prototype Theory People are pretty good at ranking items according to how typical they are Widespread agreement between speakers within the same culture Semantic Networks “A model of semantic memory in which words are represented as nodes and are connected to other nodes by various semantic relationships” (Carroll, 1999: 398) Proposed way to organize meaning (in the
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