Is lexical meaning indeterminate? Answer briefly, with an example, and directly depended on Löbner, S. (2013). Understanding Semantics. London: Routledge. Lyons, J. (1977). Semantics. Volume I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Riemer, N. (2010). Introducing Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Saeed, J. (2016). Semantics. 2nd Edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

AI Generated Answer

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Yes, lexical meaning can be indeterminate. It refers to the idea that the meaning of a word is not fixed and can change depending on context and usage. For example, consider the word "run." In one context, it could mean to physically move swiftly by foot. In another context, it could mean to manage or operate, as in "run a business." The semantic range of a word can be quite broad, and it's the context that helps determine the specific meaning in a given instance.

This view is supported by linguists such as Lyons (1977), who argues that the meaning of a word is not a static entity but a dynamic one that can change depending on context, and Saeed (2016), who suggests that semantics is about the meaning of words in context, and that context plays a crucial role in determining the meaning of a word. Similarly, Riemer (2010) and Löbner (2013) also emphasize the role of context in determining meaning, suggesting that the meaning of a word is not fixed but can shift depending on the context in which it is used.

Expert Answers

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The generated response is correct in saying that lexical meaning can be indeterminate, especially in cases when a word is used outside of context or in an ambiguous setting. The response provides a good example with the word “run,” but let’s look at a couple more to give you a broader picture.

Think, for instance, of the word “spring.” When you read that word, you might get a mental image of the season of the year, or you could think of a bed spring or a chair spring. You could even think of a rabbit springing around on the grass. If no one set a context for you, “spring” could mean any of those and more. You would have to set the word in a situation in which it refers to something specific for you to know for sure what it means. This is a case of indeterminate lexical meaning.

Let’s look at one more. Perhaps someone mentions his or her aunt. You would not know whether the person means his or her mother’s sister, father’s sister, grandmother’s sister, grandfather’s sister, or other relative who just happens to be called an aunt. Without further information, you would not know the specific referent. This, too, is a case of indeterminate lexical meaning.

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