What is a semantic field?

Types of semantic fields

What is Semantic Field?

The semantic field, in linguistics, is one that forms a group of words that share one or more features in their meaning .

In our language there are many words or lexical units among which we can recognize similar aspects. For example, we can say that fence, wall and wall share the same semantic field because the three words designate barriers.

All words belong to different lexical fields. Thus, we can say that light bulb shares semantic field with candle, but also with artificial light or electricity, unlike candle, which would be in the same semantic field as fire.

The idea of a semantic field is used in the field of linguistics to name the series of lexical units that share various characteristics in terms of their meanings . In other words, the semantic field is formed by different words whose meanings have a certain relationship since they have some semantic feature in common .

In general, it can be said that words are composed of minimum units called monemas , which are sequences of phonemes (the minimum articulation of consonant and vocal sounds). Dependent monemas, called morphemes , express a meaning.

This meaning of morphemes called sememe . The constituent element of the semesters, in turn, is called semantic trait or sema .

Taking up the definition of a semantic field, it is a lexical network that develops from words that share a sema.

Soccer , basketball , volleyball and handball , for example, are terms that belong to the same semantic field . All share a sema linked to sports that are played with a ball or ball, while they also have semes that distinguish them from each other (football is played with the feet while the hands are used in the handball; in basketball there are hoops or baskets and in volleyball, a net that divides the pitch).

There are many other examples of the semantic field that can be used to understand it. So if we establish the semantic field of music in it we can include a singer, pianist, composer, guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, saxophonist, conductor, violinist, chorus …

On the other hand, if we focused on the world of cinema, we could shape a semantic field, for example, about genres. Thus, we would include comedy, horror movies, fantastic, thriller, suspense, adventure, drama, action …

In addition to all of the above, we must know that, within a semantic field, different relationships between the terms that shape it are being established. Specifically, two types of relationships are usually fundamentally distinguished: –
Linear, which occur when an element establishes a relationship with the next and the previous.
-Ramifiers. These can be of two kinds: meronymy, when each of the terms comes to designate the part of another, and hyponymy, which occurs when one of the elements contains in itself the meaning of another.

Types of semantic fields

Semantic fields can be classified in many ways, fundamentally depending on the relationships that are identified between the elements that make them up. Here are some types of semantic fields:

Closed semantic field

It is one to which new elements can no longer be added, since it already forms a complete field. For example: the days of the week, which are only seven, or the months of the year, which are twelve.

Open semantic field

It is the one to which we can always add new terms. For example, computer accessories: camera, keyboard, mouse, pen drive, headphones, etc.

Gradual semantic field

It is the type of field in which the elements imply a scale with its different nuances. For example, moods: enthusiastic, happy, cheerful, joyful, joyful, blissful, happy.

Semantic Fields Antonyms

They are those formed by words between which relations of opposition are established. For example: happy / sad, peace / war, night / day.

Associative semantic field

It is the one that conforms due to the proximity of the reality they refer. For example, forest, tree, jungle, breña, flora, fauna, wild, shadow. This type of association is usually more subjective.

Examples of semantic fields

  • Semantic field of animals: dog, cat, pigeon, lion, mouse, elephant, giraffe, chimpanzee, puma.
  • Semantic fruit field: apple, orange, pear, strawberry, tangerine, melon, watermelon, peach.
  • Semantic field of flowers: rose, sunflower, hydrangea, tulip, dahlia, lily, carnation, cherry blossom, orchid, daisy.

The time has come to see a few examples of the semantic field:

  1. shirt, shirt, pants, jacket, shorts, skirt, pullover, socks (clothes)
  2. daisy, tulip, hydrangea, rose, alelí, calla, orchid, carnation (flowers)
  3. cow, hen, rooster, pig, horse, goose, goat (farm animals)
  4. blue, green, red, yellow, brown, black, gray (colors)
  5. January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December (months of the year)
  6. mountain, hill, plain, plateau, high plateau (landforms)
  7. walnut, poplar, oak, pine, willow, cypress (trees)
  8. barking, moaning, meowing, bleating, howling (animal sounds)
  9. blender, chopper, microwave, refrigerator, blender (appliances)
  10. tall, short, fat, thin, big head, nose (physical characteristics of a person)

Difference between semantic field, lexical field and lexical family

But before continuing with our explanation, let’s clarify some semantic concepts that are often confused:

The  LEXICAL FIELD  is formed by a group of related words because they refer to the same subject. As you can see here the definition is identical to that of the semantic field. The difference is that the lexical field is broader, since it includes words from  different grammatical categories. An example:

Flowers:  daisy, rose, carnation, vase, flower shop, garden, cultivate, plant.

The  LEXICAL FAMILY is a set of words that all derive from the same primitive word, that is, they have the same lexeme. Recall that the lexeme is the part that remains unchanged in all the words of the same family, and expresses the common meaning to the whole family. The lexical family is composed of the primitive word and its derived words , let’s see an example:

flower>  vase, florist, flowery, flowered, floral

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