Discussion 5

In the reading for this week — week 9 — we departed from speech sounds to explore meaning in a new way. In this thread, please make a response sharing one of the topics from this reading that you found the most surprising or novel. (For instance, were you surprised to find that you have a mental image for very many words, but probably not for others?) In addition to creating your own response, reply to at least one other person’s response. You will each make at least two posts in this thread this week. Due by 11:59pm on Sunday, 31 March.

48 thoughts on “Discussion 5”

  1. I was surprised to learn about two topics. The first one was “semantic relationships”. I learned that there can be meaningful connections between two different words, an example that was given in the book was of the words “pot” and “pan” being more closely related than “pan” and “flour”. I was surprised because I had an idea about this concept but didn’t have a term to define it. Another one was about “Gradable pairs”, if a word does not mean one thing, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean another(it can be on a spectrum). An example that I found interesting was water, as we don’t always have to define water as “hot” or “cold” It can also be “warm”. It was surprising because when we usually talk about water being “warm” we don’t think of water being on a continuous spectrum or it having a gradable pair. The conclusion for me was surprising that we use all these words but we never think of the terms that define them (gradable pairs or semantic relationships). This categorization would help me specify words and their context in the future.

    1. I also found this interesting. When we think of some words, we may think of defining traits of it differently. An example would be the word “dog” as we may all think of a different breed in the mental image we create upon hearing the word. However, as you stated about “gradable pairs”, a word that doesn’t mean one specific thing doesn’t have to mean another. I am also surprised how we think of these words but don’t have specific defining terms and it can differ from each person.

    2. I totally agree with you ritaj, we do have these concepts in our minds but never knew what it means and what is the educational name for it , I always enjoy when I get to learn something I have experienced and so realistic such as gradable pairs, mental images and semantic relationships . A very true example that you have provided about the water that is always considered either “hot” or “cold” and never mentioning the word warm , this would help us from now on to use and think of categorizing our words .

    3. I agree with your conclusion. We use gradable pairs and semantic relationships every day but never think about it. An example that you gave is water. Water doesn’t have to be hot or cold, it can be anything in between.

  2. I was surprised to learn about the difference between sense and reference. Sense is what the word means, like a dictionary definition. However reference is what the word points to, in the grand scheme of everything. For example, if I think of the word “chair” I am thinking about an object used to sit on for instance. However if I think of the word “green” I am imagining what the color green looks like as there is no set definition. I found this ability for some words to make you think of a definition and others to make you think of a mental image, interesting and surprising that I’ve never thought about it before in that context.

    1. I liked how you included how certain words don’t have a set definition, but rather a mental image. Especially for someone who is blind or colorblind, it can be nearly impossible to define or form a mental image of colors. This proves how difficult it can be to define words using your mental image. I also agree with your last point that thinking of certain words immediately gives you a mental image first, rather than a definition.

    2. I had a similar approach to what you said and I agree. You had a good explanation of what sense and reference means. I like how you brought up the color “green” and when explaining green. When it comes to adjectives for instance colors, you have to explaining the sense with objects that pertain to that color. Example: the sense of yellow you can say “the color of a lemon”

  3. One of the topics I found interesting in this weeks reading, was the concept of a sense and reference in linguistics. Sense is an abstract explanation of what a word means. While a reference is physical, being a real life example of a word. This also made me question whether a reference can be subjective. For instance, for the words “handsome” or “beautiful”, a real life reference can be hard to choose since beauty is very subjective. Another point that stood out to me was how specific references can be. For example, if the sense is “this picture of a cat”, then the reference wouldn’t be the cat in the image, but rather the picture itself. This once again reinforces the fact that references are very specific to the word that is being described. Although I struggled to grasp this topic at first, I found it so interesting and helpful to understand language usage.

    1. I’m interested in the part where you talk about whether or not a reference is subjective. I agree where you say that beauty is subjective. This is because not everyone sees beauty the same. One person may be seen as beautiful by one, and not beautiful by another. This is an intentionally extreme example from me. So I wonder if “handsome” or “beautiful” can even be represented by a mental image. Maybe it comes down to a general consensus on whether something is handsome or beautiful, like a sunset, or a famous celebrity.

    2. I would like to add to my previous reply to you that “handsome” and “beautiful” can be represented by a mental image, but perhaps for only each individual. Trying to make the mental image of “handsome” and “beautiful” uniform among others is where this becomes bumpy.

    3. Hello, I liked how you mentioned that there is a sense of abstraction and subjectiveness to a given mental image. It’s very interesting how something (like a cat) can be presented and will be mentally thought up differently across a room full of people.

  4. One of the topics I found surprising was mental images, and how they are not perfect in finding the meaning of a word. I learned that people can picture the meanings of words differently. This may sound obvious, but the Language Files book gave a good example of the difference between the point of view between a teacher and a student on page 250. I will also provide an example. One person may think of the word “orange” and picture the actual fruit. Another may think of the same word and picture the color instead. Technically, both are different from each other. One is a fruit, and another is a color. Another issue is that many people may not be able to picture certain words in their heads. Words like “phenomenon” and “situation” can be difficult to picture.

  5. I was so glad and enjoyed learning about mental images in this week’s lecture . What I really enjoyed is that it’s so true and realistic and something that we all actually do we think of the picture once someone says the word . I always experience that in my talks where I always imagine certain words or even scenes , I actually never knew this is called “mental images “ I really enjoyed to get to learn what I have always questioned and pretty sure now every person experiences this . So if I think of the word pyramids now I’ll imagine myself back taking pictures in front of the pyramids and my whole tour .

    1. I also enjoyed learning about mental image. I knew it was a thing but I never really noticed how much I use mental image in every conversation. When trying to describe something I picture that thing in my head and I base the description off of the picture that’s in my head. Mental image has given me the ability to create unrealistic scenarios in my head like imagining I’m sitting on a beach in a different country relaxing while I’m actually at home sitting on my couch doing homework. Mental image has it’s pros and cons.

      1. I also agree. I didn’t notice how much we use our mental image as well and I do feel that our mental image does have it’s pros and cons sometimes. For example, when you are trying to forget about something that’s been bothering you, but your mental image won’t stop picturing it.

    2. The concept of mental images is fascinating and something we often take for granted. It’s interesting how our minds automatically conjure up images associated with words. For example, when someone mentions ‘beach,’ I immediately picture the sandy shore, the sound of waves, and the warmth of the sun. It’s amazing how our brains can create such vivid images based on a single word. This aspect of linguistics really highlights the connection between language and our sensory experiences, It’s almost like having a mental photo album.

  6. One of the topics that I found interesting and surprising was how sense and reference basically go hand in hand with each other. Sense being an expression of some kind of mental representation of its meaning. For example, when you hear the word dog, you might think of visuals of your neighbor’s dog. You might also start to visualize a dog body part how they look. On the other hand, reference are the entities in the world which some expression refers to. So, Cliford the big red dog, the goofy movie hairy, loud are the referents of a dog. This shows how sense and reference tie down to each other because in order to know the reference of an expression you must know the sense. I thought this was pretty interesting.

    1. I also enjoyed this last reading assignment but I will also admit I still confuse reference and sense. It seems to me that a lot of the things we learned in the first half of the semester where things that I didn’t know, fricatives and stops, and the later readings we have had are more comfortable and familiar. I’m not sure why I feel that way, perhaps there are less variables to consider when thinking about reference, sense or semantics as a whole (so far). It seems that you have a better grasp of semantics than me at the moment but I am enjoying the trip nonetheless.

    2. I agree with what you stated. I also found it interesting that sense and reference correlate with one another. Not much people understand that in order for them to understand a word or phrase they have to know the sense first. People usually are able to use context clues to understand something but that’s the purpose of understanding the reference as well as knowing the sense in the situation

  7. A topic that I found most surprising to learn about was mental image. I know when someone asks me “oh do you remember what happened here” or “do you remember when we did this..”, I always create a picture in my head as to what they are referring to but I never really thought about how quick an image pops into my head when trying to remember what their talking about. Mental image is a valuable tool, but its effectiveness varies from person to person, for instance if someone says the word “dog” a picture of a big dog comes to my mind but if you ask someone else a picture of a small dog might come to their mind. It’s interesting how we are able to visualize an image in our minds just by thinking or hearing certain words/ phrases. Mental image also gives us the ability to visualize different scenarios which can be useful on a day-to-day basis. Even though mental image can be very useful it isn’t something that we can always rely on because someone words/ phrases might not bring an image to your head.

  8. One thing that I found interesting in this week’s reading is synonymy. Two words are synonymous if they have exactly the same reference. Examples from the book include couch/sofa, quick/rapid, and groundhog/woodchuck. In the case of groundhog/woodchuck, the set that’s the reference of groundhog is the same as the one for woodchuck. While the senses may be different, for example for quick/rapid, the set of quick things in the world is the same as the set for rapid things.

  9. what I found to be interesting was how detailed our mental image is. When it comes to sense and reference, it’s like almost every word in our vocabulary is visualized in our brain while speaking or thinking of an object.I also thought about how when I try to think of something, my mind also starts visualizing before I can even think of the word I want to say. I wouldn’t say I was surprised to find out we don’t have a mental image for all words. I feel the more exposed you are the more mental images you will have. Also,someones mental image of a beach could be relaxing while another person’s mental image of a beach could be frantic due to a bad experience.It’s interesting how everyone can have a different mental image for the same concept.

    1. I can relate to this especially when I read a book. Its almost like my mind is creating a movie out of the words as soon as I see a the sentences. You also brought up a very good point that some words may have positive connotation for some people, while other may have very negative image of a word due to certain events in their lives.

  10. The Week 9 reading talks about how we understand the meaning of sentences in a part of linguistics called Compositional Semantics. It explains that there are two main parts to understanding the meaning of words and sentences. First, there’s the sense, which is like a mental picture of what the word or sentence means. Then, there’s the reference, which is what the word or sentence is actually talking about in the real world.

    One important idea is the Principle of Compositionality. This means that the meaning of a whole sentence depends on the meanings of the individual words and how they are put together. This helps us understand new sentences we’ve never heard before. The reading also talks about how we figure out the meaning of sentences in English, which usually have a noun phrase (like “the cat”) and a verb phrase (like “is sleeping”). By understanding the meanings of these parts and how they’re put together, we can understand the whole sentence.

  11. This week’s reading was very interesting. One of the topics that really stood out to me was the concept of references and mental images. I learned that there are many words that whenever we see or hear them, we have a mental image of that word which is, while other word’s/phrases don’t always have a clear image, they would have relations. This whole concept of interpreting words differently really interests me because we all do this subconsciously without realizing it. One thing I’d like to add is that as a bilingual speaker, I feel like anytime I speak or hear Arabic, my references, word definitions, etc. are all in English. However it wasn’t always like this. When Arabic was my first language as a child, and I was starting to learn English, all my mental definitions, phrases, etc. where all in Arabic. Not sure when that transition happened but this topic made me realize this.

  12. While reading, one of the topics that I found the most surprising was mental image. Sense, to know the sense of an expression is to have some mental representation of its meaning, and reference, the things in the world that sense applies too. It’s amazing when you think of a word, the image just pops up in your head and you know the factors it applies to. As well as words that you wouldn’t picture but you try to apply a picture and know what makes that word.

    1. This also was very interesting to me how we can just simply think of a word and it makes tons of different images in our mind. Our human mind is amazing and can really make something out of nothing always.

  13. One of the topics I found very interesting, and helpful, was “Dictionary Definitions” and I believe one of the reasons is because I am currently taking a Shakespeare class and one of the more difficult aspects of his writing is the fact that some (more than I’d like) words used do not have the same meanings today, that I am familiar with. An example would be ‘villain’ which he used to depict a common man, whereas I think of someone like Voldemort or Darth Vader, and the list goes on. Another reason was growing up it was a very big deal to look things up in the dictionary and that was the Holy Grail of learning definitions. Teachers and parents (mine anyway) didn’t want to tell you what something meant, they wanted you to look it up in the dictionary so you knew what to do on your own. I spent hours looking up words like ‘gnome’ in the “N” section and ‘wriggle’ in the “R” section of the dictionary with their voices reverberating through my head, “just sound it out.” Reading, “entries in dictionaries are not fixed and immutable” and “Dictionaries model usage, not the other way around.” in this last assignment gave me an ‘Aha’ moment as it was not something I thought about but makes perfect sense.

    1. Hi susan, I really like the insight you made on your discussion post. I also found the aspect of dictionaries being something pretty “miniscule” (for a lack of a better word, when it comes to spoken language) since many words have changed drastically over the years with people changing the definitions and the way it is used with others, which is so interesting and eye-opening in how diverse language can be. I also agree with your point on the Shakespeare part, since I find myself being confused and surprised when certain words from our modern day may have been used in a drastically different context, hundreds of years ago. Overall, it just goes to further show how language is constantly evolving and it is far from static.

    2. It’s fascinating to hear your insights about the topic of “Dictionary Definitions,” especially in the context of studying Shakespeare. The evolution of language over time, as reflected in the meanings of words, shows how interesting and diverse language is. It’s interesting how “villain” means common man in Shakespeare and to us, it means characters who are opposite of heroes or people who cause chaos and do bad stuff.

  14. While reading this week’s class material, it really had me thinking about the way we (as humans) speak and communicate to each other, and it really emphasized how complex yet incredibly interesting language is. Because of this, many of our speech mannerisms have been studied upon through various explanations. For example, something that struck out to me was the principle of compositionality. This can be defined by the meanings of words being “predictable” in accordance with their syntactic combination (page 262). I found this part interesting as it made me think about the way we all can interpret certain phrases and/or expressions depending on our own “mental representations” of words and what we believe and define those words to be, making language much more diverse and complicated. This is especially common with the relationship between literal expressions and idiomatic expressions, which can be put into mind depending on the context of the expression and mental representations of a person (ex.Polly kicked the bucket). Some may think of this expression as literal (she kicked an actual bucket) and others may interpret this as an idiom at first (they may think she has died instead of actually kicking a bucket). Overall, it really has me thinking of how I can say something to someone in a way I think makes sense to me, but it can actually be interpreted very differently in the mind of someone else in their own context of language.

  15. From our discussion in class, along with the readings, I was surprised by the surreal fact that I do have mental images for certain words. It was interesting thinking about my mental image of a television or a radio and how I think of a brand new Sony flatscreen and not a huge box television from the 1970s, much like how when I think of a radio, I would think about the radio in my car instead of a radio that was used in the 1950s. In class, we talked about a mental image of a dog, and for a moment I thought about a golden retriever. I found this very interesting because I have a dog that IS NOT a golden retriever. I have a German Shepard and was puzzled when I realized why I did not imagine her, but instead imagined a random generic dog. Things like colors and abstract things do not give me a set mental image. When I think of colors, I think of things that are colored in that certain hue, instead of maybe just a blank shade.

  16. I think the topic I found most surprising is that all words do not have meaning when thinking about it. Some words are best learned with a mental image compared to words that can be easily defined. This can be explained through sense and reference. Sense refers to the conceptual or mental aspect of meaning associated with a expression. It represents the understanding or mental image evoked by a word, phrase, or sentence. The sense of an expression is subjective and can vary between individuals based on their knowledge, experiences, and cognitive associations. Reference refers to the real-world entity. It is the actual object, person, place, or concept in the external world that the expression denotes. An example of this is “bank”. “Bank” from a sense perspective can be described as a financial institution where people can withdraw and deposit money. This meaning can be changed. For Reference, “bank” can be shown with a mental image of “Chase Bank”, a financial institution that exists in the real world. In some scenarios, it is better to use a reference compared to a sense, like when describing colors. It is hard to describe a color, so a reference would best used here.

  17. As I was reading this weeks reading the topic that I found interesting was the concept of sense and reference and the way it’s used in linguistics. They both mean two different things. Sense is an abstract of the definition of a word rather than reference being an example of a word. The word sense may have someone wondering how to use certain words. For example, there can be one words with multiple definitions. People use certain words depending on the situation which makes such words in linguistics under the ‘sense ‘ term. Everyone uses the same words but interpret them differently. When situations like this occur, people have to use their references to understand the sense. Sense and reference correlate with each other because when someone understands the reference of an example or word then they would know the sense.

  18. What I found interesting in the reading, is sense and reference. I find these two very important in semantics because it helps you understand the meaning of linguistic expressions. Generally, sense means the meaning of the word. For example lets use money. The sense of ” money ” is (paper that has value). This gives a general sense of the word “money”. Next is reference. References are the nouns that have relationships together. For example a dog. We can say “dog—animal” or ” Tree— oak” These nouns have relationships tied together.

  19. I was surprised to learn that sense refers to a dictionary definition because when people use it in language especially trying to explain something, it doesn’t give a concrete explanation of what they are trying to say. usually its used when people say “in the sense that” and then give a loose interpretation so it was weird to see that its suposed to be a more concrete concept.

  20. During this topic, It was very interesting to learn about the whole “mental dictionary” topic and how it is different from a typical dictionary definition of a word. The way how a typical dictionary will define a word with only 1 solid meaning, that you cannot change, and the word means the same in any scenario. But, with our mental dictionary, we can recognize and define words in many different ways, and make different meanings out of the same word, depending on which situation you are using it in. It made tons of sense to me and it really blew my mind to be honest. Thinking about it deeply makes me fascinated about the human mind, and how we can make something out of nothing.

  21. In this thread, please make a response sharing one of the topics from this reading that you found the most surprising or novel. (For instance, were you surprised to find that you have a mental image for very many words, but probably not for others?) In addition to creating your own response, reply to at least one other person’s response. You will each make at least two posts in this thread this week

    This past week I was very surprised that we make mental images for certain words and not others. I was also surprised that with some words we can not come up with a definition and rather, we try to explain what the words means by describing it. For example, colors. Green doest really have a definition. Instead we point to something that is green and say that it’s green. This is also crazy to think about because if you are trying to teach a baby what the color blue is you point to an object and whatever they see through their eyes is blue. We might really be seeing different colors. No one will ever know.

  22. While many of the topics were interesting throughout this week’s reading, one of the ones I found most interesting was ‘Mental Images’. While exploring the reading, I came to find that people can picture the meanings of words differently. You never grasp the idea that your mind makes up images when you think of a word/object in your head. While reading this topic in the textbook, you can see the clear similarity between mental images and linguistics. For example, when you hear/think of the movies, your mind may create an image of a popcorn bucket with snacks, and a huge tv screen.

  23. In this weeks reading I found the topic word reference to be very interesting. I think sometimes we could overcomplicate in a way. It really could be something so simple as a Teacher. A Teacher refers to a person who teaches knowledge to students. Or lets say a baker who is a person who makes breads, pasteries, cakes, etc.

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