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What is a secondary sense?



A secondary sense is a meaning that is more abstract than a primary sense of a lexeme but still shares some of its semantic components.


Because it has a different range of reference, its usage contexts and collocates are different from those of a primary sense.

Example: English

The word jungle has a primary sense meaning 'land covered with dense growth of trees, tall vegetation, vines, typically in tropical regions, and inhabited by predatory animals.' This is what most people think of when the word jungle is used in isolation.


However, jungle can also refer to any place with a dense, tangled growth of trees and vegetation, as illustrated in the sentence, 'I need to take care of the jungle in my backyard.' This meaning is a secondary sense of jungle. It shares the semantic components 'plant life' and 'density' with the primary sense of jungle. It does not share the components 'tropical' and 'predatory animals.'

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Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

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