UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 11 (1999)

Re-cycling in the encyclopedia


'Re-cycling' is the principle that concepts are 're-cycled' rather than duplicated. At the interface between the encyclopedia and the lexicon, this means that a concept may serve both as the meaning of a word and also as part of ordinary non-linguistic cognition; for example, the ordinary concept 'bicycle' which we use in everyday life in classifying experiences is also the sense of the noun BICYCLE , and similarly for the concept 'cycling', which is the sense of the verb CYCLE . We offer a partial analysis of both these concepts which illustrates the difficulty, and pointlessness, of trying to separate lexical and encyclopedic properties. The 're-cycling' principle also means that wherever possible meanings of words should be re-cycled in the definitions of other words. It is therefore wrong in principle to try to define all word meanings in terms of a universal semantic vocabulary. We show, for example, how 'cycling' must be defined in terms of concepts such as 'bicycle', which must in turn be defined in terms of 'pedal', 'pedalling' and so on. The analysis is expressed in terms of a Word Grammar network.

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