In
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonology, morp ...
, hyponymy (from
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor of ...
ὑπό, ''hupó'', "under", and ὄνυμα, ''ónuma'', "name") is a
semantic relation Contemporary ontologies share many structural similarities, regardless of the language in which they are expressed. Most ontologies describe individuals (instances), classes (concepts), attributes, and relations. Overview Common components of on ...
between a hyponym denoting a subtype and a hypernym or hyperonym denoting a supertype. In other words, the
semantic fieldIn linguistics, a semantic field is a lexical set of words grouped semantically (by meaning) that refers to a specific subject.Howard Jackson, Etienne Zé Amvela, ''Words, Meaning, and Vocabulary'', Continuum, 2000, p14. The term is also used in ant ...
of the hyponym is included within that of the hypernym. In simpler terms, a hyponym is in a ''type-of'' relationship with its hypernym. For example: ''pigeon'', ''crow'', ''eagle'', and ''seagull'' are all hyponyms of ''bird'', their hypernym; which itself is a hyponym of ''animal'', its hypernym. Hypernymy or hyperonymy (from
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor of ...
ὑπέρ, ''hupér'', "over", and ὄνυμα, ''ónuma'', "name") is the converse of hyponymy. Other names for hypernym include umbrella term and blanket term. A synonym of co-hyponym based on same tier (and not hyponymic) relation is allonym (which means "different name"). A hyponym refers to a ''type''. A
meronym In linguistics, meronymy (from Greek μέρος, ''méros'', "part", and ὄνυμα, ''ónuma'', "name") is a semantic relation between a meronym denoting a part and a holonym denoting a whole. In simpler terms, a meronym is in a ''part-of'' rel ...
refers to a ''part''. For example, a hyponym of ''tree'' is ''pine tree'' or ''oak tree'' (a type of tree), but a meronym of ''tree'' is ''bark'' or ''leaf'' (a part of tree).


Hyponyms and hypernyms

Hyponymy shows the relationship between a generic term (hypernym) and a specific instance of it (hyponym). A hyponym is a word or phrase whose semantic field is more specific than its hypernym. The semantic field of a hypernym, also known as a superordinate, is broader than that of a hyponym. An approach to the relationship between hyponyms and hypernyms is to view a hypernym as consisting of hyponyms. This, however, becomes more difficult with abstract words such as ''imagine'', ''understand'' and ''knowledge''. While hyponyms are typically used to refer to nouns, it can also be used on other parts of speech. Like nouns, hypernyms in verbs are words that refer to a broad category of actions. For example, verbs such as ''stare'', ''gaze'', ''view'' and ''peer'' can also be considered hyponyms of the verb ''look'', which is their hypernym. Hypernyms and hyponyms are asymmetric. Hyponymy can be tested by substituting X and Y in the sentence "X is a kind of Y" and determining if it makes sense. For example, "A screwdriver is a kind of tool" makes sense, but not "A tool is a kind of screwdriver". Strictly speaking, the meaning relation between hyponyms and hypernyms applies to lexical items of the same word class (or parts of speech), and holds between
senses Sense relates to any of the systems and corresponding organs involved in sensation, i.e. the physical process of responding to stimuli and providing data for perception. During sensation, sense organs collect stimuli for transduction.Privitera, A. ...
rather than words. For instance, the word ''screwdriver'' used in the previous example refers to the tool for turning a screw, and not to the drink made with vodka and orange juice. Hyponymy is a
transitive relation In mathematics, a homogeneous relation over a set is transitive if for all elements , , in , whenever relates to and to , then also relates to . Each partial order as well as each equivalence relation needs to be transitive. Definition ...
, if X is a hyponym of Y, and Y is a hyponym of Z, then X is a hyponym of Z. For example, ''violet'' is a hyponym of ''purple'' and ''purple'' is a hyponym of ''color''; therefore ''violet'' is a hyponym of ''color''. A word can be both a hypernym and a hyponym: for example ''purple'' is a hyponym of color but itself is a hypernym of the broad spectrum of shades of purple between the range of ''crimson'' and ''violet''. The hierarchical structure of semantic fields can be mostly seen in hyponymy. They could be observed from top to bottom, where the higher level is more general and the lower level is more specific. For example, ''living things'' will be the highest level followed by ''plants'' and ''animals'', and the lowest level may comprise ''dog'', ''cat'' and ''wolf''. Under the relations of hyponymy and incompatibility, taxonomic hierarchical structures too can be formed. It consists of two relations; the first one being exemplified in "An X is a Y" (simple hyponymy) while the second relation is "An X is a kind/type of Y". The second relation is said to be more discriminating and can be classified more specifically under the concept of taxonomy.


Co-hyponyms

If the hypernym Z consists of hyponyms X and Y, X and Y are identified as co-hyponyms. Co-hyponyms are labelled as such when separate hyponyms share the same hypernym but are not hyponyms of one another, unless they happen to be synonymous. For example, ''screwdriver'', ''scissors'', ''knife'', and ''hammer'' are all co-hyponyms of one another and hyponyms of ''tool'', but not hyponyms of one another: *"A hammer is a type of knife" is false. Co-hyponyms are often but not always related to one another by the relation of incompatibility. For example, ''apple'', ''peach'' and ''plum'' are co-hyponyms of ''fruit''. However, an ''apple'' is not a ''peach'', which is also not a ''plum''. Thus, they are incompatible. Nevertheless, co-hyponyms are not necessarily incompatible in all senses. A ''queen'' and ''mother'' are both hyponyms of ''woman'' but there is nothing preventing the ''queen'' from being a ''mother''. This shows that compatibility may be relevant.


Autohyponyms

A word is an autohyponym if it is used for both a hypernym and its hyponym. For example, the word ''dog'' describes both the species ''
Canis familiaris The domestic dog (''Canis familiaris'' or ''Canis lupus familiaris'') is a domesticated form of wolf. The dog descended from an ancient, extinct wolf, with the modern grey wolf being the dog's nearest living relative. The dog was the first sp ...

Canis familiaris
'' and male individuals of ''Canis familiaris'', so it is possible to say "That dog isn't a dog, it's a bitch" ("That hypernym Z isn't a hyponym Z, it's a hyponym Y"). The term "autohyponym" was coined by linguist Laurence R. Horn in a 1984 paper, ''Ambiguity, negation, and the London School of Parsimony.'' Linguist
Ruth KempsonRuth Margaret Kempson, FBA (born 26 June 1944) is a British linguist. She is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at King's College, London. In 1977, Kempson published ''Semantic Theory'', which discusses the concept of entailment in linguistics. A pro ...
had already observed that if there are hyponyms for one part of a set but not another, the hypernym can complement the existing hyponym by being used for the remaining part. For example, fingers describe all digits on a hand, but the existence of the word
thumb The thumb is the first digit of the hand. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (where the palm is facing to the front), the thumb is the outermost digit. The Medical Latin English noun for thumb is pollex (compare ''hallu ...
for the first finger means that fingers can also be used for "non-thumb digits on a hand". Autohyponymy is also called "vertical
polysemy Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field. Polysemy is thus distinct from homonymy—or homoph ...
". Horn called this "licensed
polysemy Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field. Polysemy is thus distinct from homonymy—or homoph ...
", but found that autohyponyms also formed even when there is no other hyponym.
Yankee The term ''Yankee'' and its contracted form ''Yank'' have several interrelated meanings, all referring to people from the United States. Its various senses depend on the context, and may refer to New Englanders, residents of the Northern United Stat ...
is autohyponymous because it is a hyponym (native of New England) and its hypernym (native of the United States), even though there is no other hyponym of Yankee (as native of the United States) that means "not a native of New England". Similarly, the verb to drink (a beverage) is a hypernym for to drink (an alcoholic beverage). In some cases, autohyponyms duplicate existing, distinct hyponyms. The hypernym "smell" (to emit any smell) has a hyponym "stink" (to emit a bad smell), but is autohyponymous because "smell" can also mean "to emit a bad smell", even though there is no "to emit a smell that isn't bad" hyponym.


Hyperonym or hypernym

Both ''hyperonym'' and ''hypernym'' are in use in linguistics. The form ''hypernym'' takes the ''-o-'' of ''hyponym'' as a part of ''hypo'' in the same way as in the contrast between ''hypertension'' and ''hypotension''. However, etymologically the ''-o-'' is part of the Greek stem ''ónoma''. In other combinations with this stem, e.g. ''synonym'', it is never elided. Therefore, ''hyperonym'' is etymologically more faithful than ''hypernym''. ''Hyperonymy'' is used, for instance, by John Lyons, who does not mention ''hypernymy'' and prefers ''superordination''.Lyons, John (1977), ''Semantics'', Vol. 1, p. 291 The nominalization ''hyperonymy'' is rarely used, because the neutral term to refer to the relationship is ''hyponymy''. A practical reason to prefer ''hyperonym'' is that ''hypernym'' is in its spoken form hard to distinguish from ''hyponym'' in most dialects of English.


Usage

Computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of algorithmic processes, comp ...
often terms this relationship an "
is-a In knowledge representation, object-oriented programming and design (see object-oriented program architecture), is-a (is_a or is a) is a subsumption relationship between abstractions (e.g. types, classes), wherein one class ''A'' is a subclass of a ...
" relationship. For example, the phrase "Red is-a color" can be used to describe the hyponymic relationship between ''red'' and ''color''. Hyponymy is the most frequently encoded relation among
synsets In metadata a synonym ring or synset, is a group of data elements that are considered semantically equivalent for the purposes of information retrieval. These data elements are frequently found in different metadata registries. Although a group of ...
used in lexical databases such as
WordNet WordNet is a lexical database of semantic relations between words in more than 200 languages. WordNet links words into semantic relations including synonyms, hyponyms, and meronyms. The synonyms are grouped into ''synsets'' with short definitions ...
. These semantic relations can also be used to compare
semantic similarity Semantic similarity is a metric defined over a set of documents or terms, where the idea of distance between items is based on the likeness of their meaning or semantic content as opposed to lexicographical similarity. These are mathematical tools ...
by judging the distance between two synsets and to analyse anaphora. As a hypernym can be understood as a more general word than its hyponym, the relation is used in
semantic compressionIn natural language processing, semantic compression is a process of compacting a lexicon used to build a textual document (or a set of documents) by reducing language heterogeneity, while maintaining text semantics. As a result, the same ideas can ...
by generalization to reduce a level of specialization. The notion of hyponymy is particularly relevant to language translation, as hyponyms are very common across languages. For example, in Japanese the word for older brother is , and the word for younger brother is . An English-to-Japanese translator presented with a phrase containing the English word ''brother'' would have to choose which Japanese word equivalent to use. This would be difficult, because abstract information (such as the speakers' relative ages) is often not available during
machine translation Machine translation, sometimes referred to by the abbreviation MT (not to be confused with computer-aided translation, machine-aided human translation or interactive translation), is a sub-field of computational linguistics that investigates the u ...
.


See also

*
Contrast setA contrast set is a bounded collection of items, each of which could fill the same slot in a given schema, syntactic structure, or other linguistic environment. The seven days of the week, the fifty United States, the eight Hawaiian islands, the lett ...
*
Has-a In database design, object-oriented programming and design (see object oriented program architecture), has-a (has_a or has a) is a composition relationship where one object (often called the constituted object, or part/constituent/member object) "be ...
*
Is-a In knowledge representation, object-oriented programming and design (see object-oriented program architecture), is-a (is_a or is a) is a subsumption relationship between abstractions (e.g. types, classes), wherein one class ''A'' is a subclass of a ...
* Genus proximum *
Meronymy and holonymy In linguistics, meronymy (from Greek μέρος, ''méros'', "part", and ὄνυμα, ''ónuma'', "name") is a semantic relation between a meronym denoting a part and a holonym denoting a whole. In simpler terms, a meronym is in a ''part-of'' rel ...
*
-onym The suffix ''-onym'' (from grc, ὄνυμα / name) is a bound morpheme, that is attached to the end of a root word, thus forming a new compound word that designates a particular ''class'' of names. In linguistic terminology, compound words that ar ...
*
Polysemy Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field. Polysemy is thus distinct from homonymy—or homoph ...
*
Subcategory In mathematics, specifically category theory, a subcategory of a category ''C'' is a category ''S'' whose objects are objects in ''C'' and whose morphisms are morphisms in ''C'' with the same identities and composition of morphisms. Intuitively, a ...
*
Synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme, or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word, morpheme, or phrase in the same language. For example, the words ''begin'', ''start'', ''commence'', and ''initiate'' are all synonyms of one another ...
*
Taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
*
WordNet WordNet is a lexical database of semantic relations between words in more than 200 languages. WordNet links words into semantic relations including synonyms, hyponyms, and meronyms. The synonyms are grouped into ''synsets'' with short definitions ...
(a
semantic lexicon A semantic lexicon is a digital dictionary of words labeled with semantic classes so associations can be drawn between words that have not previously been encountered. Semantic lexicons are built upon semantic networks, which represent the semantic ...
for the English language, which puts words in semantic relations to each other, mainly by using the concepts ''hypernym'' and ''hyponym'')


Notes


References


Sources

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External links


Hypernym
at Everything2.com {{Lexicography
Hierarchy {{contrast, Egalitarianism Ordering Political culture Structure ...
Lexical semantics