Volltext-Downloads (blau) und Frontdoor-Views (grau)

Plesionymy: A case of synonymy or contrast?

  • This paper shows that the phenomenon of plesionymy deserves greater attention and needs to be approached outside its traditional framework, which considered it to be a subtype of synonymy (Cruse, 1986, 2002; Croft and Cruse, 2004). This view suggested that pairs of terms such as foggy–misty, fearless–brave exhibit significant shared semantic traits that are more salient than their differences. Differing properties were considered to be subordinate. These are sometimes contextually foregrounded resulting in occasional oppositeness. Corpus studies show that this view is a broad generalization. This study sheds new light on German plesionyms by employing a corpus-linguistic approach. In particular, terms designating gradable properties (e.g. kritisch–ernst ‘critical–serious’, sauber–rein ‘clean–unsoiled/immaculate’) at neighboring positions of gradable scales show variable behavior and do not show a stronger affinity for synonymy. The position taken is that a relation of synonymy and contrast are equally a matter of construal. Both types of semantic relations are part of the conceptual and lexical knowledge and subject to a cognitive principle. This work also examines how plesionym relations are realized in discourse. This article demonstrates that plesionyms are co-occurrences within typical lexico-syntactic sequences. Following Jones’ (2002) and Murphy’s (2006) observations, these patterns (e.g. nicht X, eher Y; mehr X als Y; etc.) have specific discourse functions and are evidence to account for a construction-based view.

Download full text files

  • Storjohann_Plesionymy_A_case_of_synonymy_or_contrast_2009.pdf


Export metadata

Additional Services

Share in Twitter Search Google Scholar


Author:Petra StorjohannGND
Parent Title (English):Journal of Pragmatics
Place of publication:Amsterdam
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2009
Date of Publication (online):2016/06/21
Tag:Contrast; Gradability; Near synonymy; Opposition; Plesionymy; Scale
First Page:2140
Last Page:2158
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Sprache / 410 Linguistik
Open Access?:nein
Licence (German):Es gilt das UrhG