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Department of Linguistics and Oriental Languages



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Course outline

Linguistics 626

Lexical Semantics




The study of word meaning

  1. Wait, I thought semantics was the study of word meaning.
  2. Semantics is the study of literal meaning of all kinds of linguistic units; lexcial semantics focuses on the contribution of words to literal meaning.

    Topics covered include

    • Componential Semantics
    • Lexical Decomposition
    • Universals versus Whorf-Sapir
      1. Classifiers
      2. Color terms
      3. Kinship terms
      4. Plurals/singulars
    • Lexical Aspect
    • Valence and Lexical Semantics
    • Distributional (word vector) Semantics

    The course will use one required text Theories of Lexical Meaning (Doirk Geeraerts) but will also make heavy use of online readings.


    Full Course outline

    Prerequisites and Grading

    No course pre-requisites. In particular for this version of the course.

    Grading will be based on exercises, student presentations, a final paper outline, and a final paper.

    Place and Time

    Mon 1600-1840 SH-221

    Office Hours

    Tu 3:30-4:30 Th 0930-1030 Tu Th 1230-1330 SHW 238

    Contact Info

    Mailing address:
    gawron at mail dot sdsu dot edu
    Department of Linguistics and Oriental Languages
    San Diego State University
    5500 Campanile Drive
    San Diego, CA 92182-7727
    Telephone: (619) 594-0252
    Office location: SHW, room 243