Bridging the Semantic Gap

Dalit Wasserman-Amir


The present research explores how Hebrew speakers derive meaning from distant noun collocations drawn from the poetry of Yehuda Amichai. The research participants completed a questionnaire where they had to rate the distance between collocated nouns extracted from Yehuda Amichai’s poetry and propose a connection between them without receiving any context or explanation. The questionnaires’ analysis offers a glimpse into the diverse ways in which the responders attempted to reconcile distant nouns. Their solutions included phonetic and morphological associations, morphological derivations, and even back-formations based on homonyms. Their solutions indicate that language speakers make great efforts to find semantic affinity even when the combination between distant word pairs appears meaningless.

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