Ontologies and construals in lexical semantics

Axiomathes 15 (4):541-573 (2005)
The purpose of this paper is to propose a framework of lexical meaning, broadly along the lines of Cognitive Semantics (Langacker 1987a). Within the proposed model, all aspects of meaning are to be explained in terms of properties of ontologies in conceptual space, i.e. properties of content ontologies and schematic ontologies and construals which are imposed on the conceptual structures on the occasion of use. It is through the operations of construals on ontological structures that different readings of lexical expressions arise. Lexical meanings are dynamic and sensitive to contextual demands, rather than fixed and stable. In a dynamic, usage-based model like this, polysemy and multiple readings emerge as a natural consequence of the human ability to think flexibly. Another more specific purpose of this paper is to draw attention to the usefulness of ontologies in linguistic research in general and semantic modelling in particular.
Keywords adjectives  cognitive semantics  construal  linguistics  nouns  ontology
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