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Lexical AnalysisNorms and Exploitations$
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Patrick Hanks

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262018579

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262018579.001.0001

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Do Word Meanings Exist?

Do Word Meanings Exist?

(p.65) Chapter 3 Do Word Meanings Exist?
Lexical Analysis

Patrick Hanks

The MIT Press

This chapter examines what words mean, how word meaning relates to word use, and whether words do in fact have meaning at all. It argues that, strictly speaking, words in isolation have meaning potential rather than meaning and views actual meanings as events which only materialize when people use words and put them together in clauses and texts. The chapter examines the contexts that activate different components of a word's meaning potential within the framework of corpus linguistics, which makes it possible to build an inventory of prototypical phraseology and relate meanings to the prototypes. It also discusses the importance of vagueness and redundancy in natural language processing, Ockham's razor, incompatible components of the meaning of nouns, and meaning events and meaning potentials.

Keywords:   words, word meaning, word use, corpus linguistics, phraseology, natural language, Ockham's razor, nouns, meaning events, meaning potentials

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