Marked and Unmarked Phrases within the English Language


In binary oppositions:

Marked and unmarked phrases are regularly being utilized in binary oppositions. It signifies that a time period is just not equal in its weight, however the one (unmarked) is impartial or extra optimistic in distinction to the opposite time period. As Geoffery leech observes, the place there’s a distinction between two or extra phrases, tenses or instances, one in every of them is marked if it have some further ‘affix’ in distinction to the unmarked one which doesn’t comprise any marker. For instance the cat is an unmarked and impartial time period whereas cats is marked with a suffix -s, equally actor is an unmarked time period whereas actress is a marked time period with an affix -ess, additionally well mannered is a optimistic time period in distinction to its damaging time period ‘rude’. Normally the plural of nouns in English language are marked time period (books) compared to the singular (guide). In French language the female is mostly marked and the masculine is unmarked time period as an example petit in distinction to petite; nevertheless, in English if intercourse is marked it’s accomplished lexically.i.e. by giving particular phrases to at least one intercourse and none for the opposite one, for instance phrase duck is a feminine time period which is unmarked whereas maleness is marked by drake which is absent in duck and this phrase offers providers for the entire specie. Furthermore within the pronouns reverse marking is being noticed, that’s male as an unmarked time period and feminine time period as marked one. For instance,

One in HIS senses wouldn’t do a factor like that (unmarked)

One in HER senses wouldn’t do a factor like that (marked by femaleness)

It’s the male intercourse who’s marked as a result of the primary assertion may discuss with both gender, however the second will specify it for femaleness.

In polar oppositions:

The identical form of marked/unmarked distinction is noticed in polar oppositions as properly (having two poles) good/unhealthy, wealthy/poor, day/night time, low/excessive, brief/lengthy and we favor to measure issues by the imply of size moderately than the shortness. We might moderately ask how lengthy this material, than how brief this material is, or how excessive this constructing is as a substitute of how low this constructing is. As a result of the previous will give a impartial expression which imply it might be lengthy or brief, whereas in latter we’re left with just one risk of being brief. It doesn’t solely depend on the size of measurement however may also be utilized in such instances,

How WELL does she communicate French? Very poorly

How BADLY does she communicate French? Like a local

The primary assertion is impartial and completely different from the second which is marked on this context thus the reply is totally completely different.

Markedness may be outlined as the connection between the shape and that means. If there’s a distinction of two completely different varieties on a single dimension the unmarked one can be impartial one and might be utilized on the entire dimension moderately than a particular side of it. It might be argued that this phenomenon is due the negative-positive inherent to the semantic opposition itself. Usually the unmarked one is taken into account optimistic whereas the marked one is taken a damaging time period as an example, comfortable/sad, full/incomplete, steady/unstable; nevertheless, in some instances there’s an invisible component of negation, like it’s straightforward to outline lifeless by not alive than alive by not lifeless.

Polyyanna speculation:

The detailed rationalization of markedness is given on the premise of psychological or experiential floor for which some psycholinguists have given a so known as speculation known as “Pollyanna speculation” in response to which individuals are inclined to assume extra positively in the direction of life and pay extra heed to brighter facet of life which supplies an argument for associating good with ‘unmarked’ phrases and unhealthy with ‘marked’ suffixes and prefixes.

In relative opposition:

There’s additionally an opportunity of bias in relative oppositions however it’s higher to name this ‘dominance’ as a substitute of ‘markedness’ as an example in father or mother/baby, entrance/behind, proper/unsuitable the primary time period appears to be extra dominant than the opposite one, thus we favor to put the dominant time period earlier than (parent-child) or possibly giving one title to each phrases utilizing dominant one (possession). Markedness and dominance appears to have variation in power however it deeply relies upon upon the psychological foundation. There isn’t a logical significance in giving symbols to those phrases of oppositions. The excellence between ‘lifeless’ and ‘alive might be given equal logical rationalization as +lifeless/-dead as by -live/+lifeless as a result of each of those are logically equal. This exhibits that the unmarked time period has gained the discrimination of + and upward arrow whereas the dominant time period of a opposition has gained the fitting arrow.
However the distinguishing time period for the marked time period is rarely omitted and the neutralization of the opposition continues to be indicated (oparent, oright, ogood and so on)

Ruth Kempson rule:

To account for lexical ambiguities on account of markedness Ruth has given a rule. For this rule we will take canine and bitch for instance.

If a) there are two phrases W1 and W2 having meanings m1 and m2, and m1 differs from m2 solely in having an additional function -X

And if b) there is no such thing as a phrase like W3 with that means m3 and m2 differs m3 in having an additional function of +X

It signifies that m3 is a further that means of W1. (m2 and m3 are co-hyponyms of m3 and thus W1 is an unmarked time period). This rule accounts for all of the ambiguities having first time period as extra common containing an additional function whereas the second as extra particular one. There’s additionally an evidence for different sort of ambiguities, reminiscent of it’s a tautology to say {that a} calf is a younger cow, however alternatively it isn’t the tautology to say that it is a cow not a calf. That is how ambiguity via similar phrases is created. There may also be among the hierarchical constructions for a similar phrase.


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