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Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases

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Academic Paper


Title: Lexical Complexity. Theoretical and Empirical Aspects.
Author: Gloria Cappelli
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.gloriacappelli.it/
Institution: Università di Pisa
Author: Marcella Bertuccelli Papi
Institution: Università di Pisa
Linguistic Field: Semantics
Abstract: In this paper we outline some theoretical and empirical aspects of the research carried out by the Pisa research group on lexical complexity. The notion of “lexical complexity” has been investigated from a specific angle – namely, starting from the assumption that languages are complex systems within which different types of structures act as organizers in order to make it possible for cognition to handle the immense amount of information involved in the communicative process. We have put forward the hypothesis that lexical items may themselves be viewed as complex dynamical microsystems which organize conceptual material in multiple ways depending on the task at stake. /L//L/Within this view, which admittedly draws inspiration from the theories of complex dynamical systems elaborated by the empirical sciences, words act at the same time as cues of mental representations, triggers of ad hoc conceptual constructions, and anchors which prevents meanings from verging on the border of chaos. These hypotheses have proved substantial both in a translational and in a lexicographical perspective. The paper is divided into four main sections: the first sketches an outline of the properties shared by theories of complex systems in different fields; the second provides the essential arguments supporting the view that the lexicon can indeed be conceived of as a complex dynamical system; the third presents a case study for lexical complexity and briefly discusses its implications for translation; the fourth presents the prototype of a lexicographic encyclopaedic file developed by the research group.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: In Progress
Venue: Gargnano del Garda (BS), May 25-27, 2006
Publication Info: Proceedings of the Conference Glossari, Dizionari, Corpora: Lessicologia e Lessicografia delle Lingue Europoee


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