Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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The fact that a lexical item has semantic variations when combined with other linguistic elements is a central issue in lexical semantics. A number of researchers claim that a lexical item has one basic meaning, and that other extended meanings are triggered in context by a process whereby the semantic structure of the lexical item is adjusted in certain details so that it is semantically compatible with its neighboring lexical items. This paper aims to examine how this process actually works as it applies to a transitive verb occurring with subject and object arguments. A study of the Thai transitive verb Hak "break" and its corresponding verb ORU in Japanese is presented. Arguably, all seemingly discrete meanings of HAK are interrelated and so are those of ORU. The basic meaning of each verb corresponds to the most concrete event and is the most cognitively salient. It consists of a number of "facets", which represent different physical resulting states of an entity undergoing an action denoted by either HAK or ORU. Two mechanisms are found to derive the extended meanings. First, only some facets of HAK and ORU are promoted. Second, HAK and ORU are figuratively interpreted. The other objective of this study is to show semantic differences between HAK and ORU. It is demonstrated in this paper that so-called "corresponding" words in different languages, especially verbs, hardly have exactly the same meaning.

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