Volume 11, Issue 6 (2021)                   LRR 2021, 11(6): 201-227 | Back to browse issues page

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Sabzevari M. A Study of Semantic Lexical Ambiguity in Farsi with a Cognitive Approach. LRR 2021; 11 (6) :201-227
URL: http://lrr.modares.ac.ir/article-14-41563-en.html
Assistant Professor of linguistics, A faculty member of PNU university/Tehran, Iran , m.sabzevari@Sharyar.tpnu.ac.ir
Abstract:   (3722 Views)
Ambiguity is one of the most important issues in lexical semantics and linguistics, and it has been studied from different approaches so far. It has a very long tradition of research in the history of linguistic studies. However, this paper will open a new perspective in studying semantic lexical ambiguity based on analysis of some cases in Farsi language, and as a result a new cognitive- semantic hypothesis will be introduced and discussed. Studying ambiguity with a cognitive approach may have some theoretical advantages which are not limited to Farsi language, and it could be generalized to all languages.Lexical ambiguity could be found when a word or lexeme presents more than one meaning at the same time by which a language user cannot easily detect the actual meaning. There are also syntactic and pragmatic ambiguities, but this research is about the semantic lexical ambiguity. Some cases of lexical ambiguity are homonymy words that are pronounced, and spelled similar but they are different words with different meanings.In this paper, a new hypothesis will be introduced which deals with the semantic lexical ambiguity with a cognitive approach. This hypothesis will be called dual readings hypothesis of semantic lexical ambiguity.
1. Introduction
Some cases of lexical ambiguity are homonymy words that are pronounced, and spelled similar but they are different words with different meanings. Polysemy also could lead to ambiguity when the context is not sufficient. However, another aspect of semantic lexical ambiguity could be seen in a word or lexeme when the word has both literal and figurative meanings, or explicit and implicit meanings, and the selection of the actual and final meaning is not easily possible for the recipient. Again, the context will remove ambiguity. Semantic lexical ambiguity is a result of double or multiple readings in a sentence or an utterance because of being some ambiguous word(s) in that linguistic unit. Homonymy words are by themselves ambiguous which will not be discussed in this paper. Ambiguity could not be considered as contextual sensitivity in which a change in the context may result in ambiguity. Context is the matter in contextual sensitivity. Semantic lexical ambiguity is typically relevant to co-text not context. Context could raise another type of ambiguity. Vagueness is different from lexical ambiguity in that way it refers to the general concept of a word not its specific feature(s).Ambiguity could be found between lexical meaning of a word and its figurative meaning. In Farsi for instance, the word Bimar has two different meaning of physically, or mentally, or morally ill. If someone refers this word to a person he could intend the lexical meaning which is physically or mentally ill, or its figurative meaning which is morally ill, and even a dangerous person. Moreover, if a word has polysemy meanings with explicit and implicit meanings it may be resulted in ambiguity. The main question of the present research is to find out if there would be an explanation with a cognitive approach for reaching out the actual meaning of a word which has semantic lexical ambiguity, and if this explanation could possibly lead to a hypothesis.
2. Methodology
All data presented in this paper are from spoken or written Farsi with no diachronic study. Some research has been done about this area in Farsi which has been mentioned in the paper. Farsi language is very rich in lexicon, and many cases of words with semantic lexical ambiguity could be found in Farsi. Most of the researches in Farsi have been done in the framework of the lexical semantics. The main issue which is discussed in this paper is that in many cases, the lexical ambiguity could be found out in words with both primary and secondary meanings, and implicit and explicit meanings. while it might seem that recognition of lexical meaning from figurative meaning should be easy but there are many cases in Farsi which might have semantic lexical ambiguity because the recipient cannot  come to a single reading of meaning of a word in a sentence or in a phrase, and more co-text, and also  in some cases context is needed to remove ambiguity. That happens because speakers minds have access to all primary and figurative meanings of a word at the same time especially when he/she is a native speaker of that language. The selected data reveal the semantic lexical ambiguity including both primary and secondary meanings in certain co-texts at the same time.The hypothesis is proved to work out in analyzing this type of ambiguity in Farsi.
3. Results
In this paper, a new hypothesis will be introduced which deals with the semantic lexical ambiguity with a cognitive approach. Some cases with semantic lexical ambiguity in Farsi will be discussed regarding this hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, when a Farsi speaker hears or reads a word or sentence which has lexical ambiguity, his/her mind based on speakers cognitive and linguistic competence processes the prototype meaning in the first phase. In this level, the lexical and primary meanings are retrieved and recognized. If there exists sufficient co-text then this primary meaning will be recognized, maintained and  will be understood, and if co-text is not enough for understanding the real meaning of the ambiguous word, simultaneously the second phase or secondary schema would be activated. Then, a semantic cognitive reading will be done in both implicit and explicit meaning levels of a concept and both levels will be activated in the speaker mind to recognize the real meaning. This reading could be reverse from figurative to lexical meaning based on the individual and past experiences of speakers which it would be then a marked reading. Mostly, the reading of meanings of a word begins with its prototype meaning.
4. Conclusion
The advantage of introduction of dual readings hypothesis of semantic lexical ambiguity is that it provides access to both lexical, primary and explicit meanings, and on the other hand, the secondary, figurative, and implicit  meanings. This hypothesis is about ambiguity of word which has primary and secondary meaning or it has somehow metaphorical extension or figurative meaning. Dual readings is a result of ambiguity and it will change to single reading for a linguistic unit when further co-text will be provided. In the literature of cognitive linguistic from beginning up to now, the concept of schema plays an important role. It is as the primary meaning of a word in another word. It is the main source of a metaphorical extension of a meaning of a word which results in a figurative and implicit meaning in that word. Schema is as a prototype concept from which various related concepts may emerge. The hypothesis discussed in this paper verifies that the primary and secondary meanings are inseparable because the dual readings have access to both which in turn causes semantic lexical ambiguity. Semantic and cognitive of Farsi speakers and most probably other speakers of other languages benefit from such dual access to different aspects of meaning of a word. This hypothesis considers the fact that no secondary or figurative or implicit meanings of a word has an independent status without its relation to the lexical and prototype meaning of that word. This paper is to explain the cause of semantic lexical ambiguity and its effects with a new cognitive hypothesis.

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Article Type: مقالات علمی پژوهشی | Subject: Linguistics
Published: 2021/01/29

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