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Unformatted text preview: compounds. All of these allowed us to construct semantic frames for the lexemes in question and to identify those elements which participated in metaphoric mapping. The wealth of data offered by the BNC (British National Corpus) also provided us with some unexpected examples, i.e. the use of battlefield in tourist brochures advertising ‘battlefield tours’.9 Despite this promising trend in investigating the literal and metaphorical meaning of lexemes there are some researchers who, apparently following the Bloomfieldian tradition in linguistics, deny the possibility of conducting any scientific investigation of the language-meaning rela- 9 We were not aware that visiting battlegrounds is a long-standing type of British entertainment. Knightly (1975) mentions that women, often army officers’ wives, and unconscripted aristocracy would visit the battlefields of the Crimean war, while it was still being fought. The custom was also followed during some of the late 19th c. wars fought in Africa. Corpus linguistics and the language of mass media 65 tionship. Sampson (2001), for instance, describes the scientific method in simple words: Listen, look. Summarize what you hear and see in hypotheses which are general enough to lead to predictions about future observations. Keep on testing your hypotheses. When new observations disconfirm some of them, look for alternative explanations compatible with all the evidence so far available; and then test these explanations in their turn against further observational data. This is the empirical scientific method (Sampson 2001: 1). For some reason, though, he rejects a possibility that the meaning of words can be investigated in a similar fashion. In fact he claims that “…human lexical behaviour is such that analysis of word meaning cannot be part of empirical science” (Sampson 2001: 181). The reason behind it may be that he refers to the generative linguistic approach to meaning as the theory of meaning and rejects it as erroneous on the grounds that word meaning, a fluid phenomenon, cannot be fully predicted by linguistic rules. At the same time he acknowledges the value of dictionaries providing definitions of words in everyday English: The best dictionary does not pretend that its definitions have the exactness of a physical equation, but that is not a shortcoming in the dictionary: good but imperfect definitions are as much as can ever be available, for the bulk of words in everyday use in a human language (Sampson 2001: 206). He also makes a remark dear to the heart of any cognitivist: “In other words, we cannot expect to find the exactness which is proper to mathematics in analyses of human behaviour, which is produced by imaginative and unpredictable human minds” (Sampson 2001: 206). These words seem to indicate that he is close to the stance that artificial languages of logic are not the way to describe linguistic meaning, and to favour natural language definitions. Still he does not seem inclined to see approximate definitions as the scientific means of describing the dynamism of meaning, as does Głaz (2002: 107, see Chapt...
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This essay was uploaded on 02/24/2014 for the course LING 1100 taught by Professor Friedman during the Fall '09 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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