A History of Roget's Thesaurus: Origins, Development, and by Werner Hüllen

By Werner Hüllen

Roget's word list was once first released in 1852 and has become essentially the most recognized and widely-used reference works on this planet. this can be the 1st account of its genesis. Werner Hüllen contends that synonymy (words with related meanings) is a characteristic of language with out which shall we now not speak. He describes the advance within the idea and perform of synonymy from Plato to the 17th century, while the 1st English synonym dictionaries started to appear. Roget's word list, the 1st synonym dictionary prepared in topical order, represents an vastly major height during this improvement. This ebook exposes the conceptual framework at the back of the word list and indicates the way it will be interpreted as a predecessor of linguistic semantics.

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Polysemy on the one hand and synonymy on the other have in common that they regard the meaning of a word as a complex of partial meanings which constitute the complete meaning only if taken together. They have certain semantic features in common and differ in others. Dawn and dusk have in common that they denote the time between the light of day and the darkness of night, but they differ in that dawn means the morning and dusk the evening. Swim and float have in common that they denote being supported by water, but they differ in that swim means achieving this by moving as animals and humans do, and float means being supported without any effort because of specific weight.

They are indefinite in number. The arrangeability of lexemes in fields following domains of varying density is important in its own right. Generalizing on a still higher level, we can say that all the words of a language are bound to each other by a potential of arrangeability which depends on the overlap of semantic features. There is no word in a language which exists in total isolation. As the explanation of words by words is a conditio sine qua non for human communication, and this condition can only be met because of the semantic affinity of words, this affinity itself is a conditio sine qua non of a functioning language.

Then, we will discuss three recent theories of lexical meaning. For the reader, this discussion will amount to a short and very selective history of semantics in the twentieth century, which, however, is strictly geared to explaining the ideational background of Roget’s Thesaurus. Finally, we shall discuss the central concept of twentieth-century semantics, the Saussurean notion of ‘value’. 2 According to the OED, the first use of semasiology is to be found in a translation of Martineau 3 from 1877, the first use of semantic(s) in a text from 1895 by M.

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