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What is an opposite lexical relation?

 

Introduction
 

Some cultures base their world view on the dichotomy of opposites. Other cultures recognize relatively few sets of opposite concepts.

Definition
 

An opposite lexical relation is an association between two lexical units which have the opposite core meanings in some contexts.

Examples (English)
 

Here are some kinds of opposites in English, their definitions, and example sets:

 
  • Kind

    Definition and comment

    Example set

    Complements

    Opposites that have mutually exclusive properties. For example, if people are not dead, they must be alive.

    {(dead, alive), (true, false), (open, shut), (male, female)}

    Antonyms

    Opposites that are at two corresponding points or ranges of a scale. For example, if something is not long, it is not necessarily short. There is neutral ground on the scale.

    {(long, short), (good, bad), (hot, cold), (warm, cool)}

    Directional converses

    Opposites marking the two directions along an axis.

    {(east, west), (up, down), (convex, concave)}

    Relational converses

    Opposites which specify the relative positions of two entities on opposite sides or poles of a spatial or relational axis.

    {(above, below), (in front of, behind)}; {(doctor, patient), (teacher, pupil), (master, servant), (husband, wife)}

  • Source:

    Cruse 1986 199, 204, 223, 232

  • Underlying structure
     

    The underlying structure of an opposite set is a set of pairs.

    Frames
     

    Here are some kinds of frames for opposites in English, with examples:

     
  • Kind

    Frame

    Example

    Complements

    If something is not X, then it has to be Y.

    If something is not true, then it has to be false.

    Antonyms

    When measuring or judging in a certain way, something can be either X or Y, or it can be neither.

    When measuring temperature, something can be either hot or cold, or it can be neither.

    Directional converses

    If something goes (or faces) X and it turns around, it goes (or faces) Y.

    If something goes up and it turns around, it goes down.

    If something is X, oriented the other way it is Y.

    If something is convex, oriented the other way it is concave.

    Relational converses

    Something is X (in relation to something else). If it is on the opposite side, it is Y.

    Something is in front of the house. If it is on the opposite side, it is behind.

    An X and a Y make up an R relationship.

    A husband and a wife make up a marriage relationship.


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