Antonymy in Gĩkũyũ: a cognitive semantics approach
This study endeavored to investigate antonymy in Gĩkũyũ using the Cognitive Semantics approach and provide an analysis of both the traditional (structural) and the cognitive approaches to this sense relation. This research looked at antonymy beyond the lexical level (following the traditional or structural classification). From the cognitive approach, antonymy is defined as a relation between construals, and involves the structuring of content domains. Thus, the traditional semantic approaches to the categorization of antonymy fail to capture the notion that oppositeness is a matter of construal and is subject to cognitive, conventional, and contextual constraints rather than being mere comparisons. The conceptual cognitive dimension to the study is supplied through Fillmore‟s Frame theory. The study found that the traditional analysis was inadequate in explaining the choices of antonyms made by a speaker or hearer but the cognitive approach was adequate since the context provided by culture, individual knowledge and experience plays a major part in the determination of antonymy in Gĩkũyũ. Similary, sense demarcation (boundaries) and profile are assigning sense autonomy to the antonyms and once a word attains autonomy, it evokes a frame and its frame elements help in interpreting the meaning. The other observation from the study is that in the radial categories of the various senses of nouns, the prototype only matches in oppositeness with the corresponding prototype but not with the periphery elements.
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