Monday, 21 September 2020

A field day

Hard hat, jodhpurs, saddle, stables, gymkhana, curry comb, crop, mucking out. 

 What is Grandma on about? I've just listed a group of words and phrases that create what linguists call a "semantic field." If you see them all grouped together, you know that what is being referenced is horse riding. Every activity or academic discipline has its own semantic field. (It is sometime called a "lexical field). Whatever it is called, the link is the meaning of all these terms.

It could be apron, wok, saucepan, chopping board, knife, bain-marie, spatula - and the semantic field would be cookery. I'm sure you could think of your own examples.

In the 19th century a German called Konrad Duden invented a wonderful sort of cross between a dictionary and a thesaurus. He compiled regular dictionaries too: there are twelve volumes of his work. But what is now known as a "duden" is a kind of pictorial dictionary which takes one semantic field at a time and labels all the elements. I have the "Oxford Duden of Pictorial Italian" and jolly useful it is too.

In the last six or seven months we have been bombarded with social distancing, lockdown, hand sanitiser, PPE, shielding, second wave, moonshot, world-beating, test and trace, Covid-19, coronavirus, hotspot, quarantine, herd immunity, super spreader, self-isolation ... no guesses as to the semantic field there.


 

And then there's pandemic. I have been asked to write about "global pandemic" so next week's post will be about tautology. Is "global pandemic" tautologous or not?

 


1 comment:

AmandaOrleander said...

Learned helplessness is a violation of motivation due to situations in which the participant could not influence the letters of recommendation service outcome. As a result, a person ceases to believe that his actions can bring the desired result. And it stops acting. From the word at all.

There are many examples of this phenomenon on the web. But you can see him nearby - these are people who do not move in their careers and do not change jobs, although they really want it. From them you can hear - "why try, if I still won't succeed."