oa Lexikos - Kind, considerate, thoughtful: a semantic analysis

Volume 7, Issue 7
  • ISSN : 1684-4904
  • E-ISSN: 2224-0039



This paper presents a semantic analysis of three English words denoting positive character ttaits, namely kind, considerate and thoughtful. These three words are closely related, and the differences (and similarities) in their meanings can be very difficult to pinpoint. It shall be shown that modem dictionaries demonsttate a great deal of circularity in their definitions of these words, reflecting the closeness of their meanings. An analysis of usage examples provides evidence on the basis of which their differences can be understood. Some of the differences that shall be noted are the following: kind and thoughtful necessarily involve doing something for another person, while considerate does not; kind involves not wanting anyone to feel bad, considerate involves not wanting anyone to feel bad as a result of one's actions, and thoughtful focuses on a specific situation another is in, and not wanting them to feel bad in that situation; kind involves wanting to do something for another's good, while considerate involves wanting to avoid something that may harm another; and both considerate and thoughtful imply some kind of thinking about another before one acts, as reflected in their morphology. The Natural Semantic Metalanguage approach, as developed by Wierzbicka (1972, 1980, 1996) and colleagues, is used to propose definitions for these words, with the aim of exhaustively capturing their meaning. and clearly delineating their range of use. Such definitions can be particulitrly valuable to second language learners, and can provide a basis for cross-linguistic, and cross-cultural, comparisons of related concepts.

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