Representational Formats in Cognitive Semantics

Dirk Geeraerts

The paper reviews the representational fortnals that are currently in use in Cognitive Semantics for the diagrammatic representation of the semasiological structure of lexical items. Three major types of representation will be distinguished: the radial set model popularized by Lakoff (1987), the schematic network model defined by Langacker (1987, 1991), and the overlapping sets model introduced by Geeraerts (1989b). It will be argued that (given a number of straightforward adaptations and additions), these three models are notational variants, in the sense that they exhibit the same representational potentialities. This conclusion will be reached by examining whether the three models can provide for the representation of four different types of data that arise from a prototype-theoretical conception of semantic structure. These four types of data are; salience effects among readings, non-hierarchical semantics links among readings (like metaphor and metonymy), hierarchical semantic links among readings, and discrepancies between intuitive and analytical definitions of polysemy.

1. Introductory Remarks If Cognitive Semantics is defined as the type of semantic research conducted within the tradition of Cognitive Linguistics as represented by Langacker (1987, 1991) and Lakoff (1987), then the introduction and elaboration of a prototypetheoretical conception of semantic stnicture constitutes a major contribution of Cognitive Semantics to the study of word meaning (cf. Taylor 1989); other contributions would include Lakoff's theory of generalized metaphors (Lakoff & Johnson 1980), Fillmore's frame semantics (1977, 1984), and Talmy's lexicalsemantic typological research (1983, 1985), The present paper will review the most common representational formats currently used by Cognitive Semantics researchers for describing prototype-oriented semantic structures. These fomiats include the radial set model popularized by Lakoff (1987), the schematic network model defined by Langacker (1987, 1991), and the overlapping sets model introduced by Geeraerts (1989b). It will be argued that these three models are by and large notationally equivalent. Specifically, it will be shown that the three repreFoliaUnguisticaXXIX/1-2 (C) Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin 0165-4004/95/29-21 S 2.Socieuis Liiif^iiisticd Euio/nwo


sentational formats can (in some cases, with slight adaptations) deal adequately with various types of semantic data that crucially arise in the context of a prototype-theoretical conception of semantic structure. There are, to avoid possible misunderstandings, a number of things that the paper will not do. The discussion is restricted to representations of semasiological structures — roughly, the relationship between the various readings of lexical items. This implies that it is not primarily about onomasiological phenomena (although a comparison with lexical field representations will be given below), nor about representations of individual readings. The representational mechanisms developed by Langacker for dealing with phenomena like figure/ground distinctions, for instance, will not be treated here, as they pertain to the distribution of information within individual meanings rather than to the way in which several such meanings are mutually related within the semantic structure of lexical items. Also, the paper does not deal with representation as a mechanism for storing and manipulating lexical information in formalized grammars, NLP programmes, or AI systems. Deliberately, the title mentions formats rather than formalisms: the formats meant here are primarily graphical ways of visually representing lexical-semantic analyses for expository purposes, not formal descriptions that can be automatically manipulated in the context of algorithmic rule systems. This is not to say that such fomialisms are undesirable or unattainable. Promising attempts have been made, for instance, to model lexical-semantic prototype effects in connectionist terms. The analysis of those representations is, however, a topic of its own that will be ignored altogether in the present paper. It would be wrong to think, incidentally, that graphical representational formats are largely unrestricted in comparison with symbolic formalisms. The set of basic elements (lines, boxes, or whatever) chosen for a graphical representation carries a symbolic meaning: boxes may be stipulated to represent sets, different types of lines may be chosen to represent various kinds of relations, and so on. These choices determine how the representational elements may be combined, and restrict the kind of things that can be represented at all. The general question asked in this paper may therefore be formulated as follows: do the representational choices made in the radial set model, the schematic network model, and the overlapping sets model restrict the representational possibilities of the three models in such a way that certain phenomena that are important in a prototypetheoretical conception of semantic structure could not be represented? Although the three representational models as currently used highlight different phenomena from among the set of relevant facts, it will be shown that this is a restriction of practice rather than principle. All three models can be adapted and extended in


such a way as to deal adequately with all the relevant phenomena that are here taken as point of departure for the comparison. 2. Criteria for Evaluating Semasiological Representations An investigation of the type intended here requires a set of criteria with which to evaluate the competing models. Such a set of criteria may take the form of a number of data types that the different formats should be able to represent. These data types in turn will derive from a theoretical model of semasiological structure: what kind of phenomena can be expected to occur in the semantics of lexical items? Within a Cognitive Semantics framework, the latter question primarily evokes the definition of prototypicality: what kinds of phenomena fall under the conceptual scope of the notion "prototypicality"? In Geeraerts (1989a), it is argued that prototypicality effects fall into four, not necessarily coinciding classes. The classification involves a distinction between flexibility (or, defined negatively, the absence of rigidity) and difterences of structural weight (or, negatively, the absence of equality) as structural characteristics of prototype-based categories. These two features may be identified on an intensional level (where definitional descriptions of a category are at stake) and on an extensional level (where the members of a category are envisaged). In the context of the present paper, however, we will be concerned primarily with the intensional side of the fourfold classification that results from the crossclassification of the two conceptual pairs just described. Such a restriction to intensional phenomena is not uncommon in lexical semantics, given that definition is one of its major concerns. Moreover, the extensional aspect of the matter will not be entirely neglected; it will become clear further on in the article, however, that it can be easily incorporated into a representation that starts off on an intensional basis. To begin, then, let us have a closer look at the two crucial phenomena as defined from an intensional perspective. 2.7 Intensional non-rigidity Intensional non-rigidity involves the absence of classical definitions for a category: if no definition in terms of necessary-and-sufficient attributes is available for a category, then that category is defined less rigidly than the classical model of definitions predicts. Instead of a single description consisting of individually necessary and jointly sufficient features, the definition takes the fonn of a multiplicity of partial descriptions. However, as argued in Geeraerts (1987), the so-called absence of classical definitions as such does not suffice to establish the non-orthodo.x. prototype-based nature of lexical categories. Even in the classical model, the absence of a single


definition in terms of necessary and sufficient attributes is a regular feature of lexical categories — in those cases where they are polysemous, in fact: if a polysemous category is conceived of as one that cannot be adequately described by means of a single definition, then it necessarily fits the description of intensional non-rigidity mentioned above. A solution for this conceptual problem requires making a distinction between various operational definitions of polysemy (for a more extensive treatment, see Geeraerts 1993). The absence of classical definability, then, is only a non-orthodox feature of lexical categories if it relates not to the (polysemous) category as a whole, but rather to the individual readings within that polysemous set. This involves distinguishing between two ways of determining what a distinct reading of a lexical item is. On the one hand, a number of operational tests reveals what is, from an intuitive point of view, a different meaning of a lexical item. One of these tests is Quine's "p and not p" test (1960): taking into account the readings "harbour" and "fortified sweet wine from Portugal" of port, these readings are revealed as truly different meanings (or "senses") by the possibility of uttering, in a specific context, a sentence like Sandeman is a port but not a port. If port were merely vague rather than polysemous between the "harbour" and the "wine" reading, such a sentence would turn out to be invariably contradictory. On the other hand, a definitional criterion for polysemy (as informally stated by Aristotle in the Posterior Analytics Il.xiii) says that an item has more than one lexical meaning if there is no minimally specific definition covering the extension of the item as a whole, and that it has no more lexical meanings than there are maximally general definitions necessary to describe its extension. Definitions of lexical items should be maximally general in the sense that they should cover as large a subset of the extension of an item as possible. Thus, separate definitions for "blended sweet fortified wine from Portugal" and "vintage sweet fortified wine from Portugal" could not be considered definitions of lexical meanings, because they can be brought together under the definition "sweet fortified wine from Portugal" On the other hand, definitions should be minimally specific in the sense that they should be sufficient to distinguish the item from other nonsynonymous items. A maximally general definition covering both port "harbour" and port "kind of wine" under the definition "thing, entity" is excluded because it does not capture the specificity ot port as distinct from other items. Given these two approaches, it may now be shown that discrepancies between both (and hence, non-traditional forms of semantic structure) may exist. On the one hand, word meanings that have to be recognized as single senses according to an intuitive approach, appear to lack a classical definition (i.e. would have to be recognized as polysemous according to the definitional criterion). This


is the case for the "biological species" reading of bird, as analyzed in figure 1: the reading "member of the biological species Aves" functions as a single meaning (a penguin is a bird but not a bird is decidedly odd), but there is no classical definition complying with the necessity-cum-sufficiency criterion. (The features that are common to all birds as indicated in figure 1 are not jointly distinctive, as they also apply to the duck-billed platypus.) On the other hand, there exist cases where what is an intuitively distinct meaning is smaller than what would be recognized as a separate sense according to the definitional approach. Examples are provided by autohyponymous words like dog, which has both the general reading "member of the species Canis familiaris", and the restricted meaning "male member of the species Canis familiaris" In the latter reading, dog is an antonym of bitch; in the former, it contrasts with other animal terms (like cat). Now, the set-theoretically more restricted meaning "male dog" does not have the generality that is required according to the definitional criterion (because the "male dog" cases can always be subsumed under the definition of the hyperonymous reading "Canis familaris in general, regardless of sex"), but at the same time, Mirza is a dog but not a dog makes perfect sense, assuming that Mirza is a bitch.
Figure I: A definitional analysis of "bird" in an overlapping sets model

e.g. robin
O) as

e.g. ostrich

e.g. chicken

e.g. penguin ^

a. 'Being able to fly* b. "Having feathers' c. 'Being S-shaped" d. 'Having wings' a. "Not domesticated" f. "Being born from eggs" g. 'Having a beak or bili'

In short, what is at stake with regard to intensional non-rigidity as one of the four types of prototypicality effects is not the absence of classical definability as such, but rather a discrepancy between intuitive and definitional conceptions of polysemy.


2.2 Intensional non-equality Intensional non-equality takes the form of differences in the structural importance of the various subsets that may be definitionally distinguished within the range of application of a lexical item. There is a deliberate vagueness in this formulation, to the extent that the "subsets" in question may either constitute different meanings in the traditional sense or not. If they do, the intensional differences of structural weight involve differences of salience among the various meanings of a word. Let us observe, for instance, that bird might be used metaphorically to indicate an airplane (as in a gigantic silver bird approached from the west). That metaphorical extension from the "biological species" reading would certainly be less salient than the latter as such. This is true from a logical point of view (to the extent that the metaphorical reading is a semantic extension of the former), from a psychological point of (to the extent that the metaphorical reading is less likely to be permanently stored in the mental lexicon of the language user), and from a statistical point of view (to the extent that the metaphorical reading is less common than the literal one). Admittedly, it need not always be the case that the various indices of salience coincide as neatly as in the example, but at least it will be clear what criteria may be taken into account to establish salience. If the differently weighted subsets do not constitute word meanings in the traditional sense, they involve subsets of the kind found in figure 1. The definitional analysis of bird divides the range of application of that word (in its literal reading) into a number of subsets: we may, for instance, distinguish the central subset comprising robins and other usual birds from a peripheral subset such as the one including ostriches. The centrality relationship between the sets as such indicates the differences in salience: the central set includes typical birds. It may be noted that there is a second way of defining subsets with regard to figure 1. Instead of talking about the minimal subsets distinguished in the figure (in the sense in which ostriches belong to a different subset than robins), maximal subsets may be envisaged (in the sense in which ostriches, robins, and chickens belong to the subset defined by the feature "having feathers"). Minimal subsets in the figure are defined in terms of multiple descriptive features, whereas maximal subsets are based on single features. It is a traditional part of prototypetheoretical semantics, then, that the most salient minimal subset tends to coincide with that area where a maximal number of maximal subsets overlap. Or, in other words, the prototypical instances of a category are those in which a maximal number of structurally relevant characteristics coincide. Regardless of whether the intensional salience effects at stake here are situated within or among different meanings, they invariably involve cases of structured polysemy. The term polysemy is obviously somewhat confusing here, since


it normally only relates to situations of the first type described above, i.e. those involving different meanings in the traditional sense. A more neutral term, encompassing both situations, could be multiple semantic applicability, but as that expression introduces an unacceptable cumbersomeness, we may stick to polysemy for the present purposes. The polysemy is a structured one, because the differently weighted subsets are related among each other by means of specific structural links. In the bird example, the subsets within the literal reading ("member of the biological species Aves") are related by similarity: the peripheral subsets are related by partial similarity to the central subset that includes robins and the other regular birds. Further, the literal reading is related by a metaphorical link to the peripheral "airplane" reading. (It may be remarked that metaphor also involves relations of similarity, but the terminological point would then be to distinguish literal from figurative similarity. In what follows, we will use similarity to refer to literal similarity, and metaphor for figurative similarity.) Similarity and metaphor do not exhaust the set of possible relations in polysemous clusters as intended here. In general, all relations that have been traditionally identified in diachronic semantics may recur in the synchronic structure of lexical items; metonymical relations, for instance, can be expected to be very frequent. One specific kind of semantic relationship deserves to be mentioned separately, as it plays a crucial role in one of the representational formats that we will be dealing with in paragraph 3. In traditional diachronic semantics, "specialization" and "generalization" refer to hierarchical semantic relations, i.e. relations that can be situated along the vertical dimension of a taxonomical tree. The specialization/generalization relationship holds, for instance, between the "male Canis familiaris" reading of dog and its "Canis familiaris in general" reading. In extensional terms, the more specialized reading is always a proper subset of the more general reading. Other terms beside "specialization" and "generalization" are often used; "abstraction" and "schematization" in particular may be met with as synonyms of "generalization" The importance of hierarchical semantic relations in the classical definability debate will be obvious from the discussion in section 2.1.: the ideal of classical definability implies that for any intuitively distinct reading of an item, a distinctive definition can be found that generalizes over the specific instances of use that fall within the range of that reading.


3. The Current Representational Formats 3.1 The overlapping sets model, the radial set model, and the schematic network model The three representational models that are currently used in Cognitive Semantics are the overlapping sets model, the radial set model, and the schematic network model. The overlapping sets model is illustrated by figure 1; applications may be found in studies such as Geeraerts (1990), Cuyckens (1991), Schmid (1993), Geeraerts, Grondelaers & Bakema (1994). The basic elements in this representational format are the members of a category (such as the types of birds in figure 1), or, in some cases, instances of use of the category as found in a text corpus. These basic elements are grouped together on the basis of the features that they share or the senses that they exemplify. Each grouping is typographically represented by means of a Venn-diagram. The different groupings may overlap; the area in the figure where the sets overlap maximally constitutes the prototypical center of the category.
Figure 2: A definitional analysis of "bird" in a radial set model

The radial set model is described in Lakoff (1987); examples may be found in the work of Brugman (1989), Janda (1990), Nikifoddou (1991), Goldberg (1992), and others. The basic elements in a radial set representation are the meanings or senses of a category; these are connected in pairwise fashion by means of relational links that indicate how one reading is an extension of an another (for instance, on the basis of similarity). The typographical distribution of


the various readings on the page illustrates the prototypical structure of the category: the prototypical sense is situated roughly in the middle of the figure, while the extensions that emanate from this central sense are grouped radially around it. In more complex figures, a sense from which many others emanate is likely to be highly salient within the category. Figure 2, which is adapted from Cuyckens (1991), shows how the overlapping sets representation of figure 1 can be transformed into a radial set representation. (Note that the features 1-7 in figure 2 correspond to features a-g in figure 1.) Figure 2 is, however, not entirely canonical as far as radial set representations go: the visual metaphor indicating the central position of the 1234567-case is not included (but this could, of course, be remedied by shifting the 1234567-case to the middle of the square formed by the other readings). Also, figure 2 differs from the usual radial set representations to the extent that the elements of the radial set (types of birds) are referential subsets (or, if one wishes, members) of the category "bird", rather than meanings or senses in the usual sense.
Figure 3: A definitional analysis of "bird" in a schematic network model

bird / \


^ Chicken




The schematic network model is described in detail by Langacker (i 987, 1991); it is illustrated by the work of Rudzka-Ostyn (1985, 1989), Tuggy (1987, 1993), Taylor (1992), Casad (1992), Schuize (1993), and others. The basic elements in the schematic network model may be meanings or members of a category. As in the radial set model, these elements are connected by means of relational links, but a systematic distinction is maintained between two kinds of links: links of schematization and links of extension. Schematicity involves the relationship between a subordinate node and a superordinate node in a taxonomical hierarch>.


The category "bird", for instance, is schematic with regard to "robin", "sparrow", "ostrich", and other types of birds. Extension, on the other hand, involves partial schematicity: assuming that the subset comprising robins, sparrows, blackbirds (and others) constitutes the prototypical center of the category "bird", the subset comprising chickens is an extension from that prototype. Chickens do not fall within the prototypical subset, but the concept "chicken" can be seen as an extension (based on a relationship of similarity) of the prototypical sense. (And the same holds, obviously, for "kiwi", "ostrich", and "penguin".) Precisely because the example involves similarity, the relation is one of partial schematicity. Typographically, the schematization links are indicated by solid arrows along the vertical dimension of the figure, whereas the extension links are represented by broken arrows along the horizontal dimension of the representation. Prototypicality may be indicated by using thicker lines for drawing the boxes in the figures. Figure 3 represents part of the "bird"-category in the form of a schematic network. (The concept BIRD' corresponds with the prototypical case of figures 1 and 2; BIRD represents the category as a whole. The introduction of a BiRD'-node is necessary if a separate representation of the prototype of the category is required.) 3.2 Onomasiological parallels An instructive parallel may be drawn between, on the one hand, the distinction between radial set and schematic network representations versus an overlapping sets representation, and on the other hand, alternative representations pertaining to the structure of lexical fields. In the former case (the case that primarily interest us here), the representations involve the semasiological structure of individual lexical items — roughly, the relationship between the various readings of a lexical item. In the latter case, the representations involve the onomasiological structure of lexical fields — the semantic associations between various words that are somehow related in meaning. (Note, incidentally, that the term onomasiology is used here in a broad sense, where it includes any association of lexical items on the basis of semantic relatedness. There also exists a more restricted interpretation of the term, in which it refers exclusively to alternative lexicalizations of specific senses or referents.) In lexical field research, then, three major types of representational formalisms may be distinguished: First, the traditional representation as found in, for instance, Lehrer (1974) takes the field metaphor more or less literally, by positioning the lexical items in the field in a two-dimensional space. The distinction between the items may then be indicated by dividing the field on the basis of .semantic dimensions (that each occur with specific values). In the upper part of figure 4, an abstract example is


presented with four items distinguished by two semantic dimensions (numbered 1 and 2). Each dimension is a binary one, so that the dimensional values may be indicated by means of plus and minus signs. The second representational format is the componential one popularized (though not invented) by Katz & Fodor (1963). A componential analysis turns the two-dimensional analysis inside out: the distinctive dimensions that structure the field are now placed "within" the lexical items, as part of their definition. By attributing a separate definition to each item in isolation, the associative links among the items remain implicit: they have to be derived from the presence or absence of specific features in the componential definitions. Finally (as exemplified in the lower part of figure 4), a relational representation joins the traditional type in that it does not look inside the lexical items but presents them as entities without internal structure linked by external relations. The distinction between the first type of representation and the present one resides in the nature of the links grouping together lexical items. The first approach distinguishes sets of items on the basis of shared features like the dimensional values -1-1 or -2; the sets overlap in the sense in which, for instance, item A belongs both to the set defined by -i-l and to that defined by -\-2. In the relational representation, the groupings consist of individual links between pairs of lexical items; following the definition of the relational approach in Lyons (1963), the relations usually envisaged are taken from a restricted set including at least
Figure 4: Alternative representations of semantic relations in a lexical field TRADITIONAL FIELD REPRESENTATION:

Item A ItemC

Item B itemD

COMPONENTIAL ANALYSIS: Item A +] +2 Item B -1 +2 Item C +1 Item


-1 -2




hyponymy, antonymy, and synonymy (but extensions of the set are not unusual, cf. Cruse 1986). In the example of figure 4, the opposite values of the items with regard to the dimensions 1 and 2 are interpreted as an antonymous relationship (in the sense in which antonyms like alive and dead might be componentially represented as H-LIVE versus -LIVE). The semasiological representations compared in the present paper may now be aligned with the onomasiological ones just reviewed. On the one hand, the radial set representation and the schematic network representation are both relational formats to the extent that they primarily link individual readings of lexical items in pairwise fashion. They are, in other words, network representations. The overlapping sets representation, on the other hand, is of the same "set-theoretical" kind as the first type distinguished in the case of lexical fields. The relations between the approaches presented so far are schematically represented in figure 5.
Figure 5: The relationship between the semasiological and the onomasiological representational formats




-radial sets -schematic networks

overlapping sets model

componential analysis


relational approach

traditional field approach

componential analysis

An important remark with regard to the schematic overview in figure 5 concerns the presence of the componential approach on the semasiological level. First of all, it should be noted that the componential approach in its Katzian form is already both a semasiological and an onomasiological representational format: the structural analysis of the lexical field automatically yields a definition of the items in the field. Moreover, the componential approach need not take its startingpoint in a lexical field, but may also start from the polysemous set of readings attached to a single lexical item. One may compare, for instance, Pottier's fieldbased application of componential analysis (1964) with Katz & Fodor's wordbased approach. Within the domain of Cognitive Semantics, radial set represen-


tations have sometimes been enriched with componential descriptions of the nodes in the network; see, for instance, Brugman's analysis of over (1989), and the example presented in figure 2, as drawn from Cuyckens (1991). As an overall representation of semasiological data, however. Cognitive Semantics has tended to avoid componential analysis (compare Fillmore 1975). The basic reason seems to be that a componential analysis, describing various readings in isolation, tends to obscure the structural relations among those word meanings. Specifically, the prototype-based differences of salience (or structural weight) that are crucial to Cognitive Semantics are not automatically incorporated into a componential representation. 4. Current Formats as Notational Variants The representational formats of paragraph 3 may now be compared among each other on the basis of the requirements formulated in paragraph 2. We will indicate how each of the three representations in their usual form deals with the various types of information discussed in section 2. It will be shown that they are, by and large, notational variants. Differences of salience among subsets in the range of application of an item are represented in roughly the same ways in the three models. On the one hand, salience effects receive an indirect, structural representation. In the overlapping sets model, for instance, salient subsets are those that are constituted by multiple overlapping, i.e. by the coincidence of a large number of relevant descriptive features. Similarly, in the radial set model and the schematic network model, salient readings would be those that constitute a semantic center, in the sense that they are the basis for numerous semantic extensions. Conceptually, salient readings contribute significantly to the semantic coherence of the category; typographically, they are the basis from which multiple extensions to other readings depart. On the other hand, salience may be represented more directly with typographical means, like shading (cf. figure 1) or thicker lines (cf. figure 3). This way of representing salience is more generally applicable than the former, precisely because the different indices of salience need not coincide: what is statistically prominent need not be the logical, semantic center of the category. This often happens, for instance, when the center of a category shifts from its etymological origin to one of the extensions arising from that origin. Through semantic reorganisations, the statistically dominant extension would then eventually become the new semantic center of things, but at least at one stage of the word's semantic history, the most frequent reading need not be the center of semantic coherence. In this sense, then, a neutral, direct indication of salience will be use-


ful over and above the indirect indication of salience that derives from the semantic structure of the category. Hierarchical semantic relations receive a less uniform treatment in the three models. In the radial set model, schematicity may be represented as one particular type of semantic relation next to many others; graphically, this might take the form of a binary link labeled "schematization" or "generalization" In the schematic network model, of course, such links receive a special treatment in the sense that they will invariably be situated along the vertical dimension of the figure, whereas the other links (like metaphor and metonymy) will be placed along the horizontal dimension. In the overlapping sets model, the schematization relation surfaces in the form of sets encompassing others: any box in the diagram that properly includes an other box, generalizes over the latter. One specific case along the hierarchical dimension needs to be mentioned separately. Individual members of a category are situated at the bottom of a taxonomy; "individual members" as meant here are primarily conceived of as individuals in a philosophical sense: separate entities rather than groups or classes. Thus, the individual members of bird would be birds (like Pete, your auntie's parrot) rather than specific classes of birds. In a set-theoretical sense, individuals constitute singletons. Now, once a representational format contains a mechanism for depicting hierarchical relations, it can in principle also deal with individual members of a category. However, considering that these individual members belong to the extensional level rather than to the intensional level of the category, they may also be treated somewhat differently than the other levels of a taxonomy. Consider the overlapping sets model. Representing individual members as bundles of features (i.e. overlapping sets) meets with the difficulty that the number of features identifying an individual could be unlimited, or at least very large. Rather, individual members of a category are often represented by means of "point-like" representations — by listing them with an individual name, so to speak. In the overlapping sets model, this can be achieved by placing individual category members (represented graphically as points, for instance) within the appropriate areas constituted by the featural sets. In network models, a specific link (like maybe a "membership link") might be used with the same purpose of distinguishing individuals. Two further nuances are necessary here. First, it would seem that the bottom level of a taxonomy may sometimes be shifted somewhat. In figure 1, for instance, one could say that "ostrich" and "chicken" etc. are treated as the relevant members of the category "bird" (rather than auntie's parrot). This also implies that the distinction between the intensional and the extensional level may be sub-


ject to contextual shifts. In those cases in which they constitute the bottom of the hierarchy, types of birds like "ostrich", "chicken" etc. are treated as the actual members of the category "bird", i.e. they are taken to belong to the extensional level. If, however, auntie's parrot is added to the set, the extensional level becomes more specific. Pete the parrot is an extensional token of the intensional type "parrot", and of the intensional type "bird"; but in representations like figure 1, the category "parrot" is treated as a token of the category "bird", i.e. is treated as an entity rather than a class. Second, "individual members" may also be instances of a category as found in, for instance, corpus-based analyses. If the specific instances of use of the various senses of a word are considered members of the extension of the word, a reference to illustrative quotations from the corpus can then be incorporated into the representation in the same way that Pete the parrot would be listed as a member of the category. Non-hierarchical semantic relations are treated as binary links in both the radial set and the schematic network model; in the latter, they obviously occur along the horizontal axis, as the vertical axis is reserved for relations of schematicity. Depending on the nature of the link, labels like "metaphor" or "metonymy" or "similarity" (or others) may be attached to the links. In the overlapping sets model, on the other hand, a distinction has to be maintained between similarity relations and relations like metaphor and metonymy. Clearly, similarity relations
Figure 6: The representational scope of the overlapping sets model


are represented in the form of overlapping sets defined in terms of the characteristics featuring in the similarity relation. But it is less obvious to represent metaphor and metonymy in the same way, i.e. on the basis of shared features. For metaphorical relations, this is not entirely impossible; the "airplane" reading of bird undoubtedly shares the feature of "flying" with (many) birds. The differences between birds and airplanes could then be indicated by adding features that both readings do not share, such as the fact that the literal reading involves living beings while the metaphorical one involves machines. However, if the distinction between literal and metaphorical similarity is to be representationally marked, it is advisable to indicate metaphorical relations explicitly by means of labelled links. Such labelled links would seem to be indispensable for representing metonymical links at any rate: it is difficult to imagine how metonymical relations in general can be reduced to shared features. The description of metonymy basically involves relational predicates linking the two readings that are associated through metonymy: the extended reading refers to, for instance, something that is part of (or caused by, or contained in, or characterized by, etc.) the referent of the primary reading. This relational nature of metonymy can be most easily represented with relational means, i.e. by means of labelled links. In order to further establish the equivalence between the three models, an
Figure 7: The representational scope of the schematic network model


(1) (2) (3)




abstract example may again be useful. Let us assume we have a lexical item whose literal meaning is a cluster of three subsets, constituted by the overlapping features {a} and {b}; also, all instances of the literal reading share feature {c). Three subsets then have to be distinguished: {c,a}, {c,b}, and {c,a,b}. Further, reading {c,b} is metonymically extended towards a reading defined by {d}. Each of the readings distinguished so far is represented in a corpus by a number of examples (in a text corpus, these could be sentences in which the word is used in the reading in question): examples (1), (2), and (3) exemplify {c,b}; examples (4), (5), and (6) illustrate {c,a,b}, {c,a}, and {d} respectively. There is no example illustrating {c} in isolation, but there does occur an example (7) exemplifying a metaphorical extension {e} of {c}. Given the frequency of the examples, {c,b} is clearly more salient than the other subsets. Figures 6-8 (on pages 35-37) illustrate how the same information may be presented in each of the three representational approaches. The representation of the discrepancy between intuitive and analytic polysemy requires further additions to the diagrams exemplified by figures 6-8. In the overlapping sets representation, any area of the entire cluster that is intuitively felt to be a distinct reading may be singled out by typographical means. In the /7/«f-example of figure 1, for instance, the dotted line that indicates that the features 6 and 7, when taken together, do not suffice to define the category in a distinctive fashion, could also be used to indicate that the cluster of sets that falls within the range of the dotted line usually functions as a single reading. The netFigure 8: The representational scope of the radial set model






work representations (i.e. the schematic network and the radial set representation) require the definition of a new type of node, or alternatively, a new type of labelled link. In fact, in situations like that exemplified by bird, the semantic link between the analytically distinguishable subsets and the intuitive reading could be described as one of alleged generalization: the language user so to speak pretends that there is a classically definable, unitary concept generalizing over the semantically more specific applications of the category. Switching from the labelled links to the nodes, the nodes created by the process of "alleged generalization" take the form of a disjunction: various definitionally distinct subsets are lumped together as if they constituted a single classically definable concept. Figure 9 illustrates how a radial set representation may be enriched to incorporate "alleged generalization" as an example of the way in which intuitive and analytical conceptions of polysemy need not coincide. Obviously, the radial set representation is decidedly more cumbersome in these cases than the overlapping sets representation: the graphical changes that have to be applied to the figure to achieve the required distinction are more far-reaching than in the other representational format. In principle, however, the representational possibilities are basically the same.

Figure 9: Enriched radial set representation of "bird"
123A5B7 or 234567 or 23467 or 4567 or 3567


5. Concluding Remarks In various respects, the story told so far is not yet complete. The exploration, that is, of adequate representational formats for prototype-oriented lexical semantics should not stop at the observation that the three formats currently used are notional variants (or at least, can be turned into notational variants). Even disregarding the whole domain of onomasiological research, the following observations have to be made. First, the representations developed so far do not explicitly provide a place for syntagmatic data. The readings incorporated into the representations may each be subject to specific syntagmatic restrictions. In the case of spatial relational concepts, for instance, a particular relation may occur only with particular pairs of landmarks and trajectors; furthermore, this set of syntagmatic contexts is likely to be subject to typicality effects just like the paradigmatic readings themselves. The diagrammatic representations, then, will have to be elaborated with a further layer on which the syntagmatics of each of the paradigmatic readings is specified. Second, the notational equivalence of the three models does not imply that no choices have to be made when working with these formats. There are, for one thing, empirical matters to be clarified: what the relevant prototypical centers or the psychologically real schematic meanings within a concept are, is not something that can be derived from the models as such: it is an empirical matter that has to be settled before representations are suggested. (In this respect, see Taylor 1990 for an insightful discussion of the empirical aspects of choosing between prototypicality and schematization; compare also Winters 1992.) For another thing, the choice of one form of representation rather than another may be a matter of pragmatic focus: when the research interest lies mainly with definitional problems (involving the differences between intuitive and analytical definitions of polysemy), the overlapping sets model may be more useful than the radial set model. The latter, conversely, may be more appropriate when the focus is on mechanisms of semantic extension, as in diachronic semantics. Finally, the limits of the representational formats have to be taken into account: the larger the set of relevant semantic dimensions, the more difficult it becomes to devise a graphical representation that is both elegant and complete. Splitting up the representation in various levels is one way of extending the representational possibilities: each of the components of a simplified, skeletal representation at level 1 may then be treated separately and in more detail at level 2. for instance. In general, the representations should not be given absolute value: they merely serve to present a linguistic analysis of word meaning in as clear and systematic a way as possible. The analysis itself, then, obviously comes first.


both logically and chronologically; the representation should never become an end in itself. Address of the author:
Dirk Geeraerts Departement Linguistiek University of Leuven Blijde-Inkomststraat 21 B-3000 Leuven (Belgium) e-mail:

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