componential analysis of meaning as it is considered to be an important . have defended a componential approach to semantics within a philosophical and. Componential analysis is a way proposed by the structural of a word can be dissected into meaning components, called semantic features. componential analysis. a method of semantic analysis. modelled on phonology. isolating the smallest units. phonology: the phoneme (or phonetic feature).

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Componential analysis is a method of describing the subject matter of a language. A method in both semantic and cultural description, componential analysis is perhaps best characterized as a method of ideography. In Coral Gardens and Their MagicMalinowski demonstrated the immediate relevance of descriptive semantics for ethnography.

### Componential analysis – Wikipedia

But the application of rigorous method in this area began only after World War ii, inspired by the methodology of structural linguistics and developed and utilized by anthropologists trained in this discipline Goodenough The first ethnographic use of the method illustrated the categorization of kinship relations in Truk Goodenough In Conklin published the conclusions of a similar analysis of Hanunoo color categories.

Then Lounsbury and Goodenough semanticx, working independently, simultaneously published extended statements of the method, again utilizing kinship materials. Since then several such kinship studies have been published see Bibliography. Wallace and Atkins were concerned with how far the results of such analysis reflected the actual cognitive organization of phenomena in the minds of the people being studied.

A conference to discuss this and other matters relating to componential analysis was held in June under the sponsorship of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Hammel Conklin observed that the method is applicable to the analysis and description of folk taxonomies ahalysis and to a wide range of problems in lexicography and ethnography.

Frake began to explore its use analysiis the analysis of such aspects of culture as the classification and diagnosis of diseases and the organization of religious ideas As ofhowever, the clearest expositions of the method, componenital the theoretical issues it raises, and of its limitations by comparison with other methods for accomplishing similar descriptive objectives have been presented in connection with the analysis of kinship terminologies Lounsbury a; b.

Because kinship has been studied more intensively and extensively by anthropologists than any other single aspect of culture, it is one of the few cultural domains for which anthropologists are readily able to meet the data requirements of the method.

Minimally adequate notations for recording the data are available, and there is a fairly well-developed metalanguage for talking about the properties of genealogical space. To go beyond kinship is to face the arduous but scientifically important task of developing suitable notations and metalanguages.

Specific aims of the method. In the terminology of semiotics Morrisa linguistic expression designates a class of images or concepts, it denotes a specific image or subclass of images within the class on any one occasion of its use, and it signifies the criteria by which specific images or concepts are included or excluded from the class of images or concepts that the expression designates.

### Componential analysis – Glottopedia

Thus, what is signified are the definitive attributes of the class. To say that the sky is cloudy is to designate a class or type of meteorological condition, to denote a specific image of such condition, to signify the definitive attributes of the class, and to connote such things as chill and rain.

Componential analysis is concerned solely with the significational aspect of meaning. Thus, it differs sharply from most word-association approaches to semantics, which deal almost entirely with connotations e. In its concern with signification and definitive attributes, componential analysis starts with extensional definitions listings of denotata and seeks to reduce them to intensional definitions.

An intensional definition might be as follows: An uncle is any kinsman by blood or marriage who is simultaneously a male, b two degrees of genealogical distance from ego, c not lineal, d in a senior generation, and e not connected by a marital tie in other than the senior generation of the relationship.

As this example shows, an intensional definition is conjunctive, seeking to reduce the disjunctive extensional definition to a unitary class described as a product of the combination of several definitive attributes.

That these are definitive attributes in this case is evident from the fact that to vary any one of them results in the judgment that uncle is impermissible as a term of reference. This, incidentally, illustrates a way in which the results of componential analysis are capable of verification.

General procedure in the method. We arrive at definitive attributes by a combination of two operations: The latter operation is the crucial one. It leads us, among other things, to recognize hierarchies of subject matter or of semantic domains. To contrast the denotata of English dog and mackerel is to result in a bundle of discriminating features that also discriminate between cat and pickerel, dog and pickerel, and cat and mackerel.

This provides a basis for distinguishing two semantic domains, the one to which cat and dog belong and the one to which mackerel and pickerel belong. That mammal and fish are cover terms designating these two domains shows us one kind of structural relationship between the significata of linguistic forms. The significatum of dog contains all the definitive attributes in the significatum of mammal plus some additional ones that discriminate its denotata from those of cat, horse, etc.

Hierarchical relationships among the significata of words and expressions seem obvious enough to speakers of English in an English example, but they appear to be characteristic of at least large portions of vocabulary in all languages. It is thus possible to sort vocabularies into distinct sets pertaining to different domains of experience.

There seems to be no semantic domain in Trukese that corresponds to the domain designated by English animal. Componential analysis has been directed primarily at systematically contrasting the sets of denotata of the several expressions within single domains or subdomains. Analysis has shown that the several expressions within a domain can be sorted into sets so that all the expressions in a set have mutually exclusive denotata at a given hierarchical level and differ from one another with respect to one or several dimensions of discrimination such as the several dimensions used to discriminate uncle from nephew, aunt, etc.

Such a set of expressions constitutes a terminological system.

The method of componential analysis has been applied almost entirely to delimiting and depicting the ideational structure of terminological systems. Illustration of the method—Moala kinship terminology.

Moala is an island in Fiji whose social organization has been described by Sahlins His published data, which appear in Table 1, provide the material for analysis here. Any kin relationship, no matter how remote, can be denoted by one of the terms given. Because kinship terms are infinitely extendable to the kinsmen of kinsmen, it is not possible to exhaust the universe of kintypes that may be denoted by any one of them.

Analysis must work with a sample of kintypes such as that provided in the data. It seems evident from direct inspection of the data that 6 of the 12 kinship terms are used reciprocally, in the sense that if A is taciqu to B then B is taciqu to A.

The remaining 6 terms fall into 2 reciprocating sets of 3 terms each: This observation enables us to expand the data of analysis; e. Direct inspection of the data also allows us to conclude that the sets of denotata of the several terms are differentiated, among other things, according to.

Leaving aside distinctions involving variables 2, 3, and 4 above, we show the distribution of terms according to variable 1 degree of generation difference in Table 2. What remains to be accounted for is the distinction between the reciprocal relationships involving terms 1, 2, and 3 and that involving term 6 and also the distinction between the reciprocal relationships involving terms 4 and 5 and those involving terms 7, 8, and 9.

If Moala society were divided into two intermarrying patrilineal or matrilineal moieties, there would be no problem. All of these relationships would be readily distinguishable according to whether ego and alter were in the same or different moieties. But there are no moieties in Moala, and depending on how ego and alter choose to trace their relationship they may find themselves in a category covered by terms 1—5 or in a category covered by terms 6—9.

Casual inspection of the data provided will not give us a clue as to what the discriminating factors are. But if we diagram every one of the denotata given—or that can be inferred by virtue of reciprocation—for terms 1, 2, 3, and 6, as briefly illustrated in tables 3, 4, and 5, patterns inherent in the data are much easier to discern.

In tables 3 and 4, every consanguineally related pair in the same generation in every chain of genealogical connection between ego and alter are a of the same sex, b of different sex an even num. In Table 5 we find the complementary pattern exemplified.

Every consanguineally related pair in the same generation in the chain of genealogical connection between ego and alter are a of different sex an odd number of times or b of different sex an even number of times or not at all when there is a marital tie in the most junior generation in the relationship.

This pattern also appears in the denotata of terms 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9, if we diagram them in a similar way. It is even more clearly evident that sex differences of consanguineal pairs in the same generation in the genealogical chain do not affect the most junior generation in the relationship, whereas the number of intervening marital ties count only if they occur in the most junior generation.

## Componential analysis

Therefore, the discriminant variable may be described as. This is represented as. The matrix of variables and kinship terms resulting from this analysis is shown in Table 6. The variables by which the sets of denotata were discriminated have a definite structural relationship to one another.

Variable 1 partitions the entire universe of kinship, being applicable to all of the terms, and is amalysis only variable that is so applicable. The other variables subdivide the universe further. The arrangement of variables in Table 6 reflects the hierarchical or implicit taxonomic structure. Since variable 1 generation distance ranks highest in the structure, it is in the extreme left-hand column.

Variables 2 and 4 are in complementary distribution in the matrix and occupy xemantics positions in the taxonomic structure. Variable 3 ranks lowest of all. If all the variables applied equally to the discrimination of all terms, the arrangement of variables in columns in a matrix would be entirely optional.

The matrix would have the structure of a paradigm instead of a taxonomy. The kinship systems that have been analyzed so far produce matrices that are partially taxonomic and partially paradigmatic in structure. When several alternative models involving a choice among several discriminant variables can be constructed for a terminological system, they are usually alike. Most of them differ at the middle and lower levels of the taxonomic structure rather than at the higher levels.

Some terminological systems in the domain of kinship contain fifty or more terms and a dozen or more discriminant variables. Such systems produce large, complicated componential matrices. The procedural rules for grouping terms in rows and variables in columns in such matrices are an important feature of the method of analysis. Componential analysis and anthropological theory. The Moala kinship terminology illustrates how componential analysis clarifies traditional problems in social anthropology.

Anthropologists have regularly sought to explain kinship terminologies like the Moalan one—and there are a number of generally similar ones—in terms of a analysia division of society into exogamous moieties or in terms of preferred or mandatory analysix marriage. Moieties are entirely absent from Moalan society. Nor can cross-cousin marriage explain the terminology, for although one must marry a anaysis, it is explicitly reported that by tracing different routes people can convert a wekaqu into a davolaqu.

And they manage things so that they have many more davolaqu than wekaqu. Furthermore, marriage with a close davolaqu, a real cross-cousin, is prohibited. Neither moieties nor cross-cousin marriage can be said, therefore, to provide the criteria by which people sort one another into different kinds of kin. What maintains the terminological system conceptually is the simple odd-even pattern in variable 5.

For it is not necessary to count the actual number of marriages or sex differences in the genealogical chain in distant relationships. If A and B have a relative in common, they can immediately relate to one another by the rule that an even of my even or an odd of my odd is my even, while an even of my odd or an odd of my even is my odd.

This is but one example of how componential analysis calls into question some of the explanations of kinship terminology that have had wide currency among anthropologists for another example, see Lounsbury b. Of perhaps greater theoretical interest is the attention componential analysis directs to the relationship between the ethnographer and what it is he seeks to describe. As advances are made in the rigor with which ethnographic data are analyzed and the coherency with which they are presented— a goal toward which componential analysis will have been, in retrospect, but one early step—cultural theory will of necessity be considerably transformed.

Burling, Robbins Cognition and Componential Analysis. American Anthropologist New Series