Difference between the meaning of tall and big?


Write a 1 page paper  that captures the mean of these common words and highlights their differences.  Due next Tuesday


What is word (morpheme) meaning?

It is the contribution that the word makes to its  phrases.  The basic elements of meaning are stored  in our mental dictionary (MD), along with phonological information, syntactic info, and any other idiosyncratic info on the use of the word.

How would we assess that contribution?

Our intuition is better about the meaning of sentences.  So look at sentences containing the word in question.  If we substitute another word, how does the overall meaning change?  Maybe that will inform us about the word meaning.


For example

Imagine you are at a party and overhear Her gift was too tall for the bedroom. 

You can not help but wondering what the gift is and the specifics of the situation.  Ask a couple of friends to guess, make a list of their guesses.  Now do  the same with Her gift was too big for the bedroom.  Since tall and big are not perfect synonyms, the pattern of guesses (inferences) might reveal something about their respective meanings i.e. differntial contributions to their phrase meaning, hence sentence meaning.


You might also look at a few other sentences that could use those words in the same sentence position.  (Linguists might say these words have the same distribution. This assignment is a simple exercise in what might be called distributional combinatorial semantics. I didn't make this up! Click on distributional.)

Meaning of big and tall

What can you say about their meanings.  How are they similar; how are they different?


What information does the listener have to apply to comprehend sentences with big and tall?



read about the use of these types of modifiers in Likert-like scales and the semantic differential.