Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X
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This article offers a Cognitive Semantic approach to antonymy in language and thought. Based on a series of recent empirical investigations using different observational techniques, we analyze (i) the nature of the category of antonymy, and (ii) the status of its members in terms of goodness of opposition. Our purpose is to synthesize these empirical investigations and provide a theoretical framework that is capable of accounting for antonymy as a mode of thought in language use and meaning-making. We show that antonymy has conceptual basis, but in contrast to other lexico-semantic construals, a limited number of words seem to have special lexical status as dimensional protagonists. Form–meaning pairings are antonyms when they are used as binary opposites. Configurationally, this translates into a construal where some content is divided by a BOUNDARY. This configuration (or schema) is a necessary requirement for meanings to be used as antonyms and all antonyms have equal status as members. In contrast to categorization by configuration, categorization by contentful meaning structures forms a continuum ranging from strongly related pairings as core members to ad hoc couplings on the outskirts. In order to explain why some lexico-semantic couplings tend to form conventionalized pairs, we appeal to their ontological set-up, the symmetry of the antonyms in relation to the boundary between the meaning structures, their contextual range of use and frequency.


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