Jackendoffs Conceptual Structure Approaches Strengths And Weaknesses English Language Essay

Conceptual Semantics is the agencies of understanding the manner in which significance is constructed in a individual ‘s head, and explicating this model in formal lingual attack. Ray Jackendoff is the chief innovator of this construct and has written extensively on this subject ( e.g. Jackendoff 1983, 1987, 1990, 1992 ) . The Mentalist Postulate, as described by Jackendoff is ‘meaning in natural linguistic communication is an information construction that is mentally encoded by human existences ‘ ( Jackendoff 1988: 122 ) , where depicting intending involves the description of mental representation. To Jackendoff, there is no differentiation between intending and conceptualization, ensuing in ‘an overall psychological model, incorporating it non merely with lingual theory but besides with theories of perceptual experience, knowledge, and witting experience ‘ ( Jackendoff 1990:2 ) .

Jackendoff argues that in order to research conceptualisation, a decompositional method is needed in order to analyze Conceptual Semantics. At the underside of this degree, it is the conceptual construction, the mental representation where it contains the ordinance of the combinations and the crude conceptual elements used to make significance ( with restrictions ) . To Jackendoff, Conceptual Structure allows this theory to see intending as non an object:

‘Conceptual construction is non portion of linguistic communication per se-it is portion of idea. It is the venue for the apprehension of lingual vocalizations in context, integrating matter-of-fact considerations and “ universe cognition ” ; it is the cognitive construction in footings of which concluding and be aftering take topographic point. ‘ ( Jackendoff 2002:417 )

Jackendoff concludes that finally ‘layers of construction whose units can non separately serve as possible word significances ‘[ 1 ]are discovered, intending that a set of proficient primitives are necessary in order to understand Conceptual Semantics, as the natural linguistic communication is non simplistic plenty. Thus, Jackendoff identifies a set of cosmopolitan semantic classs ( subdivision 1 ) .[ 2 ]While there are advantages following this model, there are besides disadvantages ( subdivision 2 ) , reflecting how significance is constructed through Conceptual Semantics.

Section 1

In his work, Jackendoff indentifies a set of cosmopolitan semantic classs where at the conceptual degree, a sentence is built from these semantic classs due to the necessity to stand for lexical semantic information to understand Conceptual Semantics. These include, but are non limited to: Event, State, Thing, Path, Place, Property and Time. These classs can be described as conceptual ‘parts of address ‘ , which forms the semantic content that the sentence expresses.[ 3 ]See the undermentioned sentence: Bill went into the house with a comparing between the syntactic construction ( 1a ) , and the conceptual construction ( 1b ) .

( Jackendoff 1992: 13 )

[ S [ NP Bill ] [ VP [ V went ] [ PP [ P into ] [ NP the house ] ] ] ] [ EVENT GO ( [ THING BILL ] , [ PATH TO ( [ PLACE IN ( [ Thing HOUSE ] ) ] ) ] ) ]

Similar to the parts of address such as Noun, Verb and Adjective, the ontological classs can be constituted into major groups based on significance. Additionally, each of the major syntactic classs can be aligned to the ontological classs ; ‘the NPs Bill and the house correspond to Thing slots in the conceptual construction, the verb went corresponds to the Event slot, the prepositional phrase into the house corresponds to the Path slot ‘ .[ 4 ]

Relatively, it is similar to phonological analysis with Jackendoff pulling analogues to the two systems.[ 5 ]Within phonological analysis, words are decomposed into a grade of phonemes to phonological characteristics. For his model, Jackendoff argues that intending can be obtained through by analyzing it through the beds, with a consequence similar to phonological analysis. As these beds are needed to be understood deeper, the semantic constituents are developed similar to the analysis of phonemics.[ 6 ]Event and State are the basic conceptual state of affairss within the ontological classs, and ( 1b ) is a basic illustration of an Event vocalization.[ 7 ]These semantic classs can be classified into different formulaic regulations, as seen below:

Figure: Beginning: Ray Jackendoff Semantic Structures p.42

These form the footing of how the Conceptual Structure operates. Jackendoff besides notes that there are analogues to verbs travel, be and maintain ( which falls under the ontological class of Event ) and the

prepositions to and from which falls under State ) and these falls under four sub-categories which Jackendoff dubs as semantic Fieldss: spacial location, temporal location, belongings attribution and ownership. There are besides Jackendoff ‘s semantic characteristics, such as [ A±BOUNDED ] which farther demonstrates the decompositional procedure. It can be seen that Jackendoff pays near attending to the thought that ‘sentence significance is constructed from word significance ‘[ 8 ]as attending is drawn upon lexical semantics.

Section 2

The Conceptual Structure is still comparatively in its early phases of development, and therefore is still a instead controversial theory. The model allow interesting connexions to be made between apparently unrelated significances, but it besides draws attending to the arbitrary nature that the Conceptual Structure draws upon. It is hard to state how effectual the Conceptual Structure efficaciously captures the manner in which worlds create significance. After all, Conceptual Semantics is a hypothesis ; a proposed theory. As such, there will be statements from both sides of the affair.

The chief unfavorable judgment of Jackendoff ‘s Conceptual Structure is its primitives. They are extremely abstract, and while they allow intriguing connexions to be made, it is ill-defined to how cognitively credible these connexions are. Gross argues in his critical piece ‘The Nature of Semanticss: On Jackendoff ‘s Arguments ‘ of Jackendoff ‘s premiss in Foundations of Language is that his mentalist attack to semantics is riddled with unfound philosophical premises. It is besides ill-defined what the sufficient sum is, and whether there of all time would be a concluding set of primitives. This is because it is really difficult to warrant and formalize the needed sum of the primitives and can ensue with the whole premiss falling apart. Alternatively, one can merely take to disregard these issues, but so be presented with several other issues. However Jackendoff argues that worrying about this issue should non be a affair as he states, giving an analogy to scientific discipline:

‘My reply is that one likely ca n’t state, but that should non be a affair for concern. The decomposition of all substances into 92 crude elements was a major discovery at the terminal of the 19th century. But over the class of the 20th century these primitives were farther decomposedaˆ¦ Each degree of decomposition explained more about the nature of affair and raised new inquiries of its ain ; and each measure was cause for exhilaration, non discouragement. ‘ ( Jackendoff 2010: 14 )

In Jackendoff ‘s work, he does non deny the possibility that the primitives he proposed can be decomposed farther into smaller conceptual units, ‘such as the proposed decomposition of Path and Place into dimensionality and directivity characteristics ‘ .[ 9 ]To Jackendoff, if scientific discipline allowed primitives to boom, why should semantic primitives be treated any otherwise? Jackendoff besides states:

‘aˆ¦ an stray primitive can ne’er be justified ; a crude makes sense merely in the context of the overall system of primitives in which it is embedded. With this provisco, nevertheless, I think a peculiar pick of primitives should be justified on the evidences of its capacity for showing generalisations and explicating the distribution of the information. That is, a proposed system of primitives should be the topic to the usual scientific criterions of rating. ‘ ( Jackendoff 2010: 13 )

Another inquiry is whether or non Conceptual Structure is cosmopolitan, or if it is language-specific.

The systematic attack of Jackendoff ‘s Conceptual Linguistics is its strongest point in exposing how effectual it demonstrates intending in vocalizations. Primitives are developed due to the similar spheres it is derived from, and the semantic Fieldss are used to stand for the contextual information of the significance.

The demand of associating the formalist attack to vocalizations and the mundane linguistic communication is besides questioned as

This answer might non fulfill everyone, since it does non state us which generalisations

are psychologically existent and which are simply artifacts of the

analysis. One possible manner of restraining the generalisations is to look for

1s for which there is some independent lingual grounds. For illustration,

Jackendoff ‘s proposal that verb iterativity as illustrated in ( 16 ) above and

nominal plurality are assortments of a individual conceptual characteristic, PL, might be

supported by the fact that some linguistic communications instantiate this with an indistinguishable

morphological class. In Siraya, for illustration ( Austronesian, Taiwan ;

extinct ) , anadiplosis had these really maps ( Adelaar 2000 ) . Another

might be to look for psychological or possibly neurological grounds to back up

the analyses developed in Conceptual Semantics.

Section 3

Jackendoff does seek to lucubrate on the mental capacities of the encephalon through his extended surveies and research, making a model to back up his thoughts on the Conceptual Semantics.


The Conceptual Structure is still a blooming construct, with an challenging mentality on significance and how it relates to the concept of idea. Jackendoff uses

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