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What is a whole-part lexical relation?



The whole-part lexical relation is an association between a lexical unit representing a part and a lexical unit representing its corresponding whole.


Cruse 1986 157


Another name for the whole-part lexical relation is meronymy. A meronymy is a non-hierarchical relationship between lexical units that deals with the significant parts of a whole.


Meronymy may be represented by the following frame:

  • Y has X(s). An X is a part of Y.


    "An arm has an elbow. An elbow is a part of an arm."


    Cruse 1986:160, 178




  • Arm
  • House
  • Head
  • Trunk
  • Elbow, forearm, wrist
  • Roof, wall
  • Eyes, mouth, nose
  • Chest, back
  • Underlying structure

    The underlying structure of a whole-part lexical relation set is a tree.


    Here are some frames for testing and eliciting a whole-part lexical relation:

    • A Y has an X and an X is a part of Y.
    • A Y has Xs and an X is a part of Y.
    • The parts of a Y include the X(s), the Z(s), etc.
    • The X(s) and the Z(s) are parts of a Y.

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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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