Forms of encoded pragmatic meaning: semantic prosody. A lexicographic perspective.
Abstract – The present paper focuses on ways in which the pragmatic (functional) meaning that arises from various contextual features, known in corpus linguistics as semantic prosody (Sinclair 1996, 2004; Louw 1993, etc.) can become an integral part of lexicographic descriptions. This is especially important for the treatment of phraseology and idiomatics. The workings of semantic prosody are a good example of the ways pragmatic meaning exploits linguistic means to be codified in the text. We thus investigate the meaning that can only be studied in context, as it is completely dependent on collocation, i.e., syntagmatic relations, and therefore cannot be attributed solely to a concrete word form. Corpus analysis has yielded significant results in areas such as the lexicographic treatment of semantic prosody. We believe that in order to improve teaching pragmatics in all its complexity, it is necessary to recognise and assess various aspects of pragmatic meaning both in written and spoken language. Second/foreign language teaching/learning in particular has been strongly dependent on the inclusion of relevant information in dictionaries, in which, traditionally, pragmatic aspects of meaning have been largely neglected. Language technologies have enabled us both to study the subtleties of pragmatic meaning and to design accurate and more user-friendly (pedagogical) dictionaries. We will attempt to demonstrate the value of explicit description of functional pragmatic meaning, i.e. semantic prosody, as implemented in the Slovene Lexical Database (2008-2012). A brief overview of the theoretical background is first provided, after which we describe the definition strategies employed to include pragmatics, as well as presenting a case study and arguing that explicating semantic prosody is crucial in developing pragmatic competence in (young/foreign) language learners.
Keywords: semantic prosody; pragmatics; lexicographic description; dictionary; lexical database
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