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What is a semantic component?

 

Definition
 

A semantic component is a potentially contrastive part of the meaning of a lexical unit.

Example
 

The focal semantic component of execute is “put to death”.

Kinds
 

Here is a table that describes some kinds of semantic components:

 

Semantic Component

Description

Example

Contrastive

Also known as:

diagnostic, distinctive, essential

Distinguishes one lexical unit from another

“Male” is the contrastive semantic component distinguishing man from woman, and boy from girl.

Shared

Also known as:

common

Occurs in each member of a group of lexical units

“Human” is a shared component for man, woman, boy, and girl.


Context for this page:

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.]

Page content last modified: 5 January 2004

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