Print

Print


Just an idle random thought on mapping semantic space...

It occurred to me to try to extend the semantic range of my conlang
verbs, allowing one verb to conquer bordering lands in cases where the
intent would be clear from context. (The extreme would be to have only
one verb, which could itself be eliminated since its presence would be
implied in every sentence. But that's probably taking things too far.)

So I was just playing around with the verb "give" in English. (It
would be something else in a conlang, of course). In how many
different contexts can one use this verb and have the meaning made
clear by context?

John gave Mary a book.
John gave Mary a cold.
John gave Mary an idea.
All roads give to Rome.
The elevator opened and gave me to the third floor.
Those dark narrow stairs give to the dungeons below.
Which bus will give me to the train station?
The tour guide gave us to the cathedral.
I gave the stew extra carrots before I gave it to the stove.
His photos gave us a nice view of the lake.
I gave myself to the easy chair and gave my attention to the television.
Can you give me which type of paint I should buy?

This doesn't include the use of particles to modify the meaning of the
verb as in "give AWAY your dreams, give UP ON your hopes, and give IN
TO despair.

Anyway, none of this is anything new. It just occurred to me that
before I start populating a new conlang lexicon with equivalents for
English words, which is what I've always done in the past, I should
give a lot more thought to how I will merge and/or split semantic
territories in the universe of meaning.

How have you mapped the semantic space in your conlangs? Are your maps
systematic, or did they just happen?
--gary