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One of the long-established misconceptions about the
lexicon is that it is neatly and rigidly divided into semantically related sets
of words. In contrast, we claim that word meanings do not have clear
boundaries.1 In this paper we will give proof of the fuzziness of meaning
through an analysis of the semantic field of MOVEMENT in the English language.
We will show that many MOVEMENT verbs belong not only to several subdomains
within the field of MOVEMENT, but also to various semantic domains through
Before dealing with the double or even triple membership
of MOVEMENT verbs, let us first present the model on which our description of
the lexicon is based, the Functional-Lexematic Model (Martín Mingorance,
1984, 1985a,b; 1987a,b,c; 1990a,b).
1. The Functional-Lexematic Model
The FLM integrates Coseriu’s Lexematics (1977), Dik’s
Functional Grammar (1997a) and some fundamental principles of cognitive
linguistics. Following Faber and Mairal (1998: 4-5), the two main objectives of
this model are, on the one hand, the construction of the linguistic architecture
of the lexicon of a language, and on the other hand, the representation of
knowledge based on the linguistic coding of dictionary entries.
The FLM establishes three axes of analysis: the
paradigmatic, syntagmatic and cognitive axes. The elaboration of the
paradigmatic axis entails the structuring of the lexicon in semantic domains
—each corresponding to a basic area of meaning,2 and the organization of
lexical domains into hierarchically constructed subdomains elaborated on the
basis of shared meaning components A subdomain is “a subdivision of semantic
space derived from the factorisation of the meaning definition of its members”3
(Faber and Mairal 1998: 6). Word definitions are built according to Dik’s
method of Stepwise Lexical Decomposition. This means that the definition
structure of each lexeme consists of the nuclear word —the archilexeme— and a
series of semantic features which mark its distance from the preceding members
of the subdomain.
Following Faber and Mairal (1999), the domain of
MOVEMENT is organised into four subdomains. The first subdomain describes
generic movement, while the other subdomains subsume lexemes which denote
movement in a number of contexts: liquid, atmosphere and land. Cutting across
this major configuration of the domain, the parameters of manner and direction
introduce further divisions within each subdomain.4 For instance, these
parameters traverse the following subdomains within the subdomain lexicalizing
To move towards a place/person/thing
To move back
To move up
To move down
To move quickly
To move slowly
To move smoothly
To move in a circular manner
As an example of a subdomain structured
paradigmatically, we have selected the subdomain To move down:
fall: to move down from a high position/the sky/a
plunge: to fall suddenly a long way from a high
plummet: to fall very quickly from a high position.
come down: to fall (rain/snow) heavily.
descend: to move down a slope/stairs (fml).
The verbs indented to the right (plunge, plummet, come
down) are defined in terms of the verb immediate above them (fall), which thus
becomes their definiens. They are basically differentiated from one another in
terms of manner. The other archilexeme of this subdomain is descend.
The construction of the syntagmatic axis implies the
analysis of the complementation patterns of each lexeme using predicate frames
as integrated formulae.
The following types of information are captured in
(i) the form of......