Field, Semantic

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Field, Semantic


a group of words united by sense connections that are determined by like features in the words’ lexical meanings. For example, the field of the German verb fehlen encompasses seven verbs united by the feature of absence: fehlen, abgehen, mangeln, gebrechen, vermissen, entbehren, missen. The concept of a field makes it possible to describe precisely the microstructural systemic semantic interrelationship between linguistic units. The theory was developed in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s by a number of German scholars. J. Trier studied groups of words from the point of view of their material and conceptual ties. W. Porzig studied single words and their semantic and syntactic ties. Other German scholars included A. Jolles, who linked the study of a field to the etymological and derivational analysis of a word, and G. Ipsen. In the 1950’s the semantic field theory was developed by L. Weisgerber of the Federal Republic of Germany. These German scholars have been criticized for using the concept of a field to prove the idealist thesis of a linguistic intermediary world (die sprachliche Zwischenwelt) and for subjectivity in the delimitation of fields. Their theories have been criticized for not allowing the whole lexicon to be included and for slighting the independent role of the individual word.

Since the 1960’s, scholars have studied the lexical and semantic fields of words and the syntactic and semantic field of individual words. The concept of the field has been broadened; lexical-grammatical, functional-semantic, derivational, and other kinds of fields are all now distinguished.


Ufimtseva, A. A. Opyt izucheniia leksiki kak sistemy. Moscow, 1962.
Kuznetsova, A. I. Poniatie semanticheskoi sistemy iazyka i metody ee issledovaniia. Moscow, 1963.
Vasil’ev, L. M. “Teoriia semanticheskikh polei.” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, no. 5, 1971.
Shchur, G. S. Teorii polia v lingvistike. Moscow-Leningrad, 1974.
Trier, J. Der deutsche Wortschatz im Sinnbezirk des Verstandes. Heidelberg, 1931.
Porzig, W. Das Wunder der Sprache, 3rd ed. Bern, 1962.
Weisgerber, L. Grundziige der inhaltbezogenen Grammatik, 3rd ed. Düsseldorf, 1962.
Hoberg, R. Die Lehre vom sprachlichen Feld. Düsseldorf, 1970.
Minina, N. Semantische Felder. Moscow, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?