Synonym Group Criteria

This is a core file of TLS, and it summarises the crucial semantic contrasts between the most common words within a given semantic field, or as we say in TLS: within a given Synonym Group.

These brief and much simplified summaries, compiled in close cooperation with Jiang Shaoyu 蔣紹愚 of Peking University, attempt to reconstruct the kind of basic information that we take ancient Chinese young children to acquire as they learn to use these words. Although much common effort has gone into these short definitions, they are still found to be in constant need of revision, amendment, and expansion.

For a few dozen Synonym Group Labels (for example in beautiful) we have begun to tentatively identify [in square brackets] the list of semantic distinctive features that have been found to be operative as distinguishing between the Lexemes contrasted within the given Synonym Group. The set of such clearly recurrent semantic distinctive features is clearly limited: one ends up with no more than three hundred of them, although one can always be tempted to add a few new ones.

The list of recurrent distinctive features can never completely replace the discursive analysis of the basic differences between Lexemes, but it can help to bring out the systematic recurrent parts of this analysis.

Christoph Harbsmeier

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