Semantic analysis of Dholuo nouns:The semantic field approach
An adequate semantic theory must be able to give a satisfactory answer to some of the questions of interest raised within the theory. It should ascertain the possible anomalies in or meaningfulness of a given word or sentence, provide a formal means of establishing if two words or sentences have common meanings and how many of such, and characterize the words forming the sentences by the explicit form of the uses of a given word. This study: Semantic Analysis of Dholuo Nouns: The Semantic Field Theory, examines the semantic properties of Dholuo nouns with a view to investigating if their relationships within given sentences are determined by these distinctive properties, i Meaningfulness or anomalies are attributed to the correct choice and use of these words. The study is based on the semantic field theory of semantic analysis advanced by Lehrer Adrienne (1974) in Semantic fields and Lexical structure. In this theory, the choice of lexical items (nouns) for use by native speakers is viewed as a process of careful and purposeful selection of only those lexical items which are semantically related by virtue of belonging to a given field, or whose semantic domains are related closely enough to allow for extension of meaning. Essentially, the theory of semantic field relationships constrains the extent of word choice in normal ordinary discourse. The areas investigated in this study are the relationships between closely related words (nouns) in meaning, which are therefore often subsumed under a general semantic domain. It will be observed that the lexicon is a network of relationships whereby there is a connection between fields^rjdomains such that some fields are mutually exclusive. In addition, the native speakers are intrinsically aware of this interlace of relationships * and uses this knowledge in the determination of the appropriate words in every context durimz a discourse. It is significant to note that the tendency of lexical items to relate within a semantic domain and across domains is characteristic of existing human languages and Dholuo, in particular. The central claim of this study is that the choice of nouns to be used in given discourse events by native speakers is informed by the distinctive components of the words and their semantic relationships within and across fields. This analysis of Dholuo nouns further gives empirical support to the semantic field theory as an acceptable and proven framework for semantic analysis of words.