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Paradigmatic Relations

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English

A paradigm is a set of associated concepts which are members of a category, and are represented by words. For example: sat, fat, hat, mat, bat.

What is a paradigmatic relation?

Paradigmatic relation is concerned with the way words are grouped together into categories, like nouns, verbs, adjectives etc. Words in the same group, or word class, can be exchanged for each other in a sentence: 'The dog/cat/chimpanzee bit me '.

Let's look at some of the theory behind this idea.

Semiotics, saussure, and paradigmatic delations

'Paradigmatic relation' is closely related to semiotics. Semiotics is about how meanings are produced by signs. The word semeion means 'sign' in greek.

Any sign is made up of two parts, a concept and sound-image. We do not mean a sound like a dog's bark, but the sensory impression the word gives us. Signs explain the whole concept of the word and the meanings we attach to it. Language is then considered by Saussurean linguistics to be a self-enclosed system. Saussure replaces word 'concept' with signified and 'sound-image' with signifier. The word 'tree' has two parts: it is a sound (/ tri: /) and it is an idea (whatever you think of when you hear the word 'tree'. The sound (/ tri: /) is the signifier and the idea-in-your-head is the signified.

Paradigmatic Relations, Sign Signified Signifier, StudySmarterLily Hulatt, StudySmarter Original

Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) is considered the founder of structuralist linguistics. Structuralist linguistics analyses the structure of language, and how meaning is embedded in words and sentences.

In his studies, Saussure offered three main ideas:

  • A distinction between langue (the abstract language) and parole (language we use in everyday life).
  • Language is arbitrary. We live in a global world, which means different languages use different words when referring to the same object. For example, in English we say dog, the French say chien, and Russians say собака. There is no reason why abstract concepts in language should be fixed.
  • Signs gain meaning from their relationship with other signs. This leads to syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations.

Tip: Saussure offered theoretical reconstructions of the Proto-Indo-European language, which is an ancestor of the Indo-European language family that includes English, French, Russian, and Spanish!

Another way to think about signs is this picture from Rene Magritte:

Paradigmatic Relations, Rene Magritte Example, StudySmarterThis is not a pipe, wikipedia.com

You may know this, but this is not an actual pipe. It is an image of a pipe. We have randomly assigned meaning to the painting of a pipe. But it is not a pipe. It is a painting of a pipe. Magritte's painting subverts our expectations about objects and their names.

The choice of signs and their arrangement in a sentence is crucial to understanding language analysis and semiotic relationships.

What is the difference between paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations?

It may be easy to get these two terms mixed up...Let's take a look at the differences between the two!

Syntagmatic relations

Syntagmatic relation refers to the relationship between words in a sentence. Any alterations to the word combination can change the meaning of the sentence:

  1. Paul is bathing a dog.
  2. A dog is bathing Paul.

Both sentences have the same components but in a different order. In other words, the syntagmatic relation explains how the word's position in a sentence determines the meaning of the sentence.

Paul + is bathing + a dog

A dog + is bathing + Paul

A Syntagm is a 'linguistic unit' in a relationship with other such units in a particular sequence. Individual syntagms are the building blocks of text. Syntagms are grouped to form words, words are grouped to form phrases, and phrases are grouped to form sentences, etc. Paragraphs and chapters are considered a syntagm of words, and the grouping is sometimes called a chain.

Paradigmatic Relation

Paradigmatic relation involves the differentiation and selection of words in a sentence. Look at this sentence:

The | man | cried

We can see how words can act as building blocks that make up the sentence. However, since paradigmatic relations involve substitutions and selections, we can replace a word in the sentence to make different combinations or meanings.

The | man | sang

Or:

The | man | died

Or even:

The | boy | cried.

Paradigmatic relationships are sets of associated words (paradigms) which are all members of some defining category.

What are some further examples of Paradigmatic Relations?

Below are some more examples of paradigmatic relations:

Paradigmatic Relations
Subject verb Object
Determiner Adjective NounNoun
Thebeautifulwomanbuyssome bread
oldladybuyssome cakes
handsomemansoldsome vegetables
tallboyis eatinga hotdog

As you can see, there are several possible variations of 'The beautiful woman buys the bread':

  • The old lady buys some cakes.
  • The handsome man sold some vegetables.
  • The tall boy is eating a hotdog.

We can conclude that:

  • Paradigmatic relation describes a substitution relationship between words with the same word class. The substitution occurs on a vertical axis, as shown in the diagrams above and below.
  • Syntagmatic relation is about the relationship/position between words in a sentence. The syntagmatic relation occurs on the horizontal axis.

Paradigmatic

relations

Syntagmatic Relations
Subjectverb Object
DeterminerAdjective Noun Noun
Thebeautifulwomanbuyssome brioche
Atunattractiveladybuyssome bread
Thathandsomemanatesome chicken

Paradigmatic relation:

Let's take 'The beautiful woman buys some brioche'.

  • The beautiful woman can choose to buy some bread or chicken instead of brioche.
  • Brioche, bread, and chicken are parts of a paradigm of food that the beautiful woman can buy.
  • The items in a paradigm share some unifying quality, and the paradigm is the set or category they belong to (food).
  • Some words from the sentence can also be substituted vertically: 'An unattractive (antonym) lady (synonymy) buys some bread (hyponymy)'.

Syntagmatic relation:

Let's take 'That handsome man ate some chicken'.

  • The combination of 'that handsome man + ate + some chicken' forms a syntagmatic relationship.
  • If the word position is changed, it also changes the meaning of the sentence, eg 'Some chicken ate the handsome man'.
  • Furthermore, the linear relationship also occurs at phrase-level: it is 'handsome + man', not 'handsome + woman'.

What are the different types of paradigmatic relations?

There are different types of paradigmatic relations. From the examples above, we can see that paradigmatic relations involve substituting a word for another word from the same word class, either with a similar meaning (synonymy), an opposite meaning (antonymy), or a-kind-of meaning (hyponymy).

Synonymy

Synonymy is when words have similar meanings. The meaning of A is similar to B (A ≈ B).

Some examples of synonyms are:

  • I want to live in a big country house ≈ I want to live in a huge country house.
  • It was a difficult decision to make ≈ It was a hard decision to make.
  • The food was excellent ≈ The food was great.

Synonyms can be divided into two subtypes:

  1. Absolute synonyms: the meaning and grammatical function of the synonymous words are exactly the same, eg airport and aerodrome.
  2. Partial synonyms: the meaning of the synonymous words are only similar. Partial synonyms can differ in collocation, register, and regional/social variation.

Be careful when doing word substitution with synonymy. Not every synonymous word fits in all situations (partial synonyms). You have to consider some factors, such as the context, relationship between words, register, regional variation, etc.

  • 'China has the world's largest population' vs. 'China has the world's most gigantic population' → differ in collocation.
  • 'We will commence the construction next month' vs. 'We will start the construction next month' → differ in register (formal-informal).
  • 'I'll make some chocolate biscuits for Christmas' vs. 'I'll make some chocolate cookies for Christmas' → differ in regional usage (British English vs. American English).

Antonymy

Antonymy is when words have opposite meanings. The meaning of A is the opposite of B (A↔B).

Some examples of antonyms are:

  • I want to live in a big country house ↔ I want to live in a small country house
  • It was a difficult decision to make ↔ It was an easy decision to make
  • The food was excellent ↔ The food was terrible

Antonyms can be divided into three subtypes:

  1. Gradable antonyms define words that are at the opposite ends of a spectrum with some gradation in between the two extremes, eg hot - cold.
  2. Complementary antonyms explain an either-or relationship between opposite word pairs, eg true - false.
  3. Relational/converse antonyms show a dependent relationship between the opposite words, eg husband-wife.

Important to note: The word substitution with antonym is relatively free without restrictions. Of course, you need to consider that the sentence's meaning will change if you substitute a word with its antonym.

Hyponymy (hypernym & co-hyponym)

Hyponymy refers to a super- and subordination relationship between words. A is a kind of B (A ↑ ↓ B).

Some examples of hyponyms are:

  • Sweep, wipe, and scrub (hyponyms) are kinds of (to) clean (hypernym).
  • Red, blue, and yellow (hyponyms) are kinds of colours (hypernym).
  • Poodle, labrador, and pomeranian (hyponyms) are kinds of dogs (hypernym).

If you want to keep the sentence meaning like its original, substitute the word with its hypernym (superordinate of a word) and not with its co-hyponym (hyponyms on the same hierarchical level). For instance,

I have to babysit my sister's poodle this weekend.

  • Meaning kept: substitute poodle with dog (hypernym of poodle) → 'I have to babysit my sister's dog this weekend'. The meaning is not exactly the same, but it generalizes the category.
  • Meaning changed: substitute poodle with labrador (co-hyponym of poodle) → 'I have to babysit my sister's labrador this weekend'. The meaning is different.

With this in mind, the sentence 'The beautiful woman buys some brioche' can be re-written in a variety of meaningful ways. By using or we can create a range of sentences:

ExampleThebeautifulwomanbuyssome brioche
similar meaningsynonymTheprettyladybuyssome brioche
opposite meaningantonymunattractivemansoldsome brioche
superordinate meaninghyponymousbeautifulwomanbuyssome bread

Paradigmatic Relations - Key takeaways

  • Paradigmatic relation is concerned with the substitution of words in a sentence as long as they belong to the same word class.
  • A paradigm is a set of associated concepts or sound images which are members of a category, yet each element is different.
  • Syntagmatic relation refers to the relationship between words in a sentence.
  • A Syntagm is a relationship between words in the same sentence.
  • Synonymy refers to words with similar meanings (A ≈ B), eg big - large, huge, gigantic.
  • Antonymy refers to words with opposite meanings (A↔B), eg big - small.
  • Hyponymy refers to a super- and subordination relationship between words (A ↑ ↓ B, where A is a kind of B), eg bread - brioche, challah, sourdough.

Paradigmatic Relations

Paradigmatic Relation involves the substitution and selection of words in a sentence to create different combinations or meanings, and is concerned with the way words are grouped together into categories.

An example of paradigmatic relation involves how words in the same group, or word class, can be exchanged for each other in a sentence: 'The dog / cat / chimpanzee bit me'.

Some types of paradigmatic relation are synonymy, antonymy, and hyponymy - these are all examples of the substitution method.

Paradigmatic Relation involves the substitution and selection of words in a sentence to create different combinations or meanings. Syntagmatic relation refers to the relationship between words in a sentence and how any alterations to the word combination in a sentence can change the meaning of the sentence.

A paradigm is a set of associated concepts or sound images which are members of a category, yet each element is different.

Final Paradigmatic Relations Quiz

Question

What is a hyponymous relationship?

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Answer

A hyponymous relationship explains a super- and subordination relationship between words.

Show question

Question

What is a hyponym?


Show answer

Answer

A hyponym defines a more specific word for a broader term. It is the subordinate of hypernym.

Show question

Question

What is a hypernym?


Show answer

Answer

 A hypernym is a general term for a word. It is the superordinate of hyponym.

Show question

Question

What is a co-hyponym?


Show answer

Answer

Co-hyponyms are hyponyms on the same hierarchical level

Show question

Question

Determine the hypernym, hyponym, and co-hyponym from these words:


cold, warm, temperature, and hot.

Show answer

Answer

Hypernym: temperature

hyponym: cold, warm, hot

co-hyponym: cold, warm, hot.

Show question

Question

Determine the hypernym, hyponym, and co-hyponym from these words: 


suite, hotel room, deluxe room, and standard room.

Show answer

Answer

Hypernym: hotel room

hyponym: suite, deluxe room, standard room

co-hyponym: suite, deluxe room, standard room.

Show question

Question

Determine the hypernym, hyponym, and co-hyponym from these words:


novel, books, dictionary, and cookbook.

Show answer

Answer

Hypernym: books

hyponym: novel, dictionary, cookbook

co-hyponym: novel, dictionary, and cookbook.

Show question

Question

Are these words co-hyponyms to each other: pop, jazz, rock, and blues? 


Show answer

Answer

Yes

Show question

Question

Are these words co-hyponyms to each other: sunny, cloudy, weather, rain, and snow?


Show answer

Answer

No

Show question

Question

What is meant by the multi-layer relationship in hyponymy?


Show answer

Answer

A word can be a hypernym and a hyponym of another word at the same time. 

Show question

Question

How to test whether a set of words are hyponyms?


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Answer

A-kind-of method

Show question

Question

What kind of relationship do reading, learning, studying, and transcribing have? Is it hyponymy, polysemy, or meronymy?


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Answer

Hyponymy 

Show question

Question

What kind of relationship do the words good in these two sentences have: 


'Paul was a good man' and 'Tom was a good painter'?


Is it hyponymy, polysemy, or meronymy?

Show answer

Answer

Polysemy.

Show question

Question

True or false - car windows, car doors, bumpers, and headlights are the hyponyms of cars.


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Answer

False

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Question

True or false - roof, windows, doors, and walls are the meronyms of buildings.


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Answer

True

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Question

What is antonymy?

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Answer

Antonymy is about opposite meanings.

Show question

Question

 What are the three types of antonym?


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Answer

The three types of antonyms are complementary, relational / converse, and gradable antonyms.

Show question

Question

True or false - Complementary antonyms are word pairs that are dependent on each other, such as husband-wife.


Show answer

Answer

 False

Show question

Question

 True or false - Gradable antonyms are word pairs that are on the opposite ends of a spectrum with gradations in between, such as hot - cold.


Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

True or false - Relational/converse antonyms are word pairs that are dependent on one another, such as doctor-patient.


Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

What type of antonymy does this pair of words belong to?


parent - child

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Answer

Relational/converse antonyms 

Show question

Question

What type of antonymy does this pair of words belong to?


Boring - interesting

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Answer

Gradable antonyms

Show question

Question

What type of antonymy does this pair of words belong to?


Off - on


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Answer

Complementary antonyms

Show question

Question

True or false - interior and exterior is a pair of complementary antonyms.


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Answer

True. Interior and exterior is a pair of complementary antonyms.

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Question

 True or false - high and low is a pair of relational/converse antonyms.


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Answer

False

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Question

True or false - front and back is a pair of gradable antonyms.


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Answer

 False

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Question

Name three literary devices that use antonym.


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Answer

Pun, irony, and paradox.

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Question

Name the antonyms in this excerpt and name the literary device it uses:


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity ... (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859).


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Answer

The quote uses a series of paradoxes. It compares and contrasts two situations that seem impossible but are true, namely the best and worst, wisdom and foolishness, belief and incredulity.

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Question

What is the opposite of antonymy?


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Answer

Synonymy.

Show question

Question

True or false - The antonym of receive is accept and its synonym is reject.


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Answer

False

Show question

Question

What is synonymy?

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Answer

Synonymy is a term for a word with the same or nearly the same meaning as another word. If you substitute synonymous words, the meaning / sense of the sentence doesn't change.

Show question

Question

What are the two types of synonyms?


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Answer

The two types of synonyms are absolute and partial synonyms.

Show question

Question

Are the sentences below synonymous with each other? If so, is it an absolute or a partial synonym (collocation, register, or regional / social variety)?   

  • You have a big house.
  • You have a huge house.

Show answer

Answer

Yes, the two sentences are partial synonyms in collocation.

Show question

Question

Are the sentences below synonymous with each other? If so, is it an absolute or a partial synonym (collocation, register, or regional / social variety)?   

  • The salesman endeavored to attract my attention.
  • The salesman tried to attract my attention.

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Answer

Yes, the two sentences are partial synonyms in register. Endeavour has a similar meaning to try but has a higher degree of formality.

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Question

Are the sentences below synonymous with each other? If so, is it an absolute or a partial synonym (collocation, register, or regional / social variety)?     

  • He is a truck driver.
  • He is a lorry driver.

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Answer

The two sentences are partial synonyms in regional / social variety. Truck has a similar meaning to lorry but is commonly used in American English (lorry is more common in British English).

Show question

Question

True or false - Absolute synonyms are common.


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Answer

False. Absolute synonyms are very rare.

Show question

Question

Are the sentences below a partial synonym in collocation, register, or regional / social variety?   

  • These numbers are surprisingly low. Can you verify them?

  • These numbers are surprisingly low. Can you check them?

Show answer

Answer

The two sentences are partial synonyms in register. Verify has a similar meaning to check but has a higher degree of formality.

Show question

Question

Are the sentences below a partial synonym in collocation, register, or regional / social variety?   

  • He placed the glass gently.
  • He placed the glass carefully.

Show answer

Answer

The two sentences are partial synonyms in collocation.

Show question

Question

Are the sentences below a partial synonym in collocation, register, or regional / social variety?     

  • The shop was closed.
  • The store was closed.

Show answer

Answer

 The two sentences are partial synonyms in regional / social variety. Shop has a similar meaning to store but is commonly used in British English (store is more common in American English).

Show question

Question

What is the difference between synonymy and homonymy?


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Answer

Synonymy is about words that have similar meanings. Homonymy is about words that are the same in pronunciation or spelling or both, and their meanings are dissimilar.

Show question

Question

True or false - The words fly in these two sentences are homonyms:

  • Do you know how to fly a kite?

  • He swatted the fly with a magazine.

Show answer

Answer

 True. The words fly in both sentences have the same pronunciation and spelling but differ in meaning. Thus, they're homonyms.

Show question

Question

Are the sentences below synonymous with each other? If not, what relationship do they have?

  • My brother is coming over for a couple of days next spring.
  • The mattress has lost its spring.

Show answer

Answer

No, the two sentences are not synonymous. The first spring refers to 'the season', while the second refers to 'the ability to return to its usual shape after it has been pressed'. They are homonymous (words that have different meanings but are the same in pronunciation and spelling).

Show question

Question

What is the difference between synonymy and polysemy?


Show answer

Answer

Synonymy is about words that have similar meanings. Polysemy is about a single word that has more than one meaning.

Show question

Question

True or false - The words wing in these two sentences are polysemies: 

  • The radical wing of the party has dominated the discussion.

  • There's a dent in the left wing of your car.

Show answer

Answer

True. The words wing in both sentences have the same form but different meanings. Thus, they're polysemies.

Show question

Question

Are the sentences below synonymous with each other?   

  • Let me have my drink then we can go.
  • He has a drinking problem.

Show answer

Answer

No, the two sentences are not synonymous. The first drink refers to 'any liquid for drinking', while the second drink in drinking problem refers to 'an alcoholic drink'. They are polysemous (a word that has several meanings).

Show question

Question

True or false - Paradigmatic relation is about a relation between words that co-occur in the same sentence.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

What do paradigmatic relations involve? 


Show answer

Answer

The substitution and selection of words in a sentence to make different combinations or meanings.

Show question

Question

Name some methods for word substitution in paradigmatic relation.


Show answer

Answer

Some methods for word substitution in paradigmatic relation are synonymy, hyponymy, and antonymy.

Show question

Question

True or false - Enquire is a synonym of ask but differs in register.


Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

True or false - Shop is a synonym of store but differs in collocation (bookshop vs. bookstore).

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

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