n Lexikos - There is no need for the terms polysemy and homonymy in lexicography

Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1684-4904
  • E-ISSN: 2224-0039



This paper describes a radically different approach to polysemy and homonymy from the ones normally presented in linguistic and lexicographic literature on this topic. Our main criticism of the traditional approaches lies in their use of the term "word": If a word is defined as a linguistic sign, it means that it only has one expression and one meaning, and this entails that defining polysemy and homonymy as phenomena where one word has two or more meanings is not only problematic - it is impossible. For this reason, we argue that polysemy and homonymy do not exist. Furthermore, we claim that they are not even necessary concepts in lexicography as each lexeme could be represented by a lemma in an information tool. However, by changing the definitions of polysemy and homonymy to phenomena where an expression has two or more meanings, thereby focusing on the expression, it is possible to retain the terms. We propose that the best way to apply and also distinguish between polysemy and homonymy in an information tool would be to present the same expressions with different meanings as well as different grammars as homonyms, while expressions with different meanings but the same grammar are presented as polysems.

Hierdie artikel bied 'n radikaal ander benadering tot polisemie en homonimie vergeleke met die benaderings oor hierdie onderwerp wat tipies in taalkundige en leksikografiese literatuur te vinde is. Ons belangrikste kritiek op die tradisionele benaderings lê in die gebruik van die term "woord". As 'n woord gedefinieer word as 'n linguistiese teken beteken dit dat dit net een uitdrukkingsvorm en een betekenis het. Dit impliseer dat dit nie problematies is nie maar onmoontlik om polisemie en homonimie te omskryf as verskynsels waar een word twee of meer betekenisse het. Om hierdie rede voer ons aan dat polisemie en homonimie nie bestaan nie. Daarbenewens stel ons dit dat hulle nie eers nodige begrippe in die leksikografie is nie aangesien elke lekseem deur 'n lemma in 'n inligtingswerktuig verteenwoordig kan word. Deur die definisies van polisemie en homonimie te verander tot verskynsels waar 'n uitdrukking twee of meer betekenisse het, is die fokus op die uitdrukking en is dit moontlik om die terme te behou. Ons stel voor dat die beste manier om tussen polisemie en homonimie te onderskei en om dit toe te pas in 'n inligtingswerktuig is om dieselfde uitdrukkings wat verskillende betekenisse en verskillende grammatiese waardes het as homonieme aan te bied terwyl uitdrukkings met verskillende betekenisse maar dieselfde grammatiese waarde as poliseme aan te bied.

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