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In
semantics Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another ...
, contrast is a relationship between two discourse segments.


On contrast

Contrast is often overtly marked by markers such as ''but'' or ''however'', such as in the following examples: # It's raining, ''but'' I am not taking an umbrella. # We will be giving a party for our new students. We won't, ''however'', be serving drinks. # The student knew about the test on Friday, ''but'' still he did not study. In the first clause, ''It's raining'' implies that the speaker knows the weather situation and so will prepare for it, while the second clause ''I am not taking an umbrella'' implies that the speaker will still get wet. ''Both clauses'' (or
discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation Conversation is interactive communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy) ...

discourse
segments) refer to related situations, or themes, yet imply a contradiction. It is this relationship of comparing something similar, yet different, that is believed to be typical of contrastive relations. The same type of relationship is shown in (2), where the first sentence can be interpreted as implying that by giving a party for the new students, the hosts will serve drinks. This is, of course, a defeasible inference based on world knowledge, that is then contradicted in the following sentence. The majority of the studies done on contrast and contrastive relations in
semantics Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another ...
has concentrated on characterizing exactly which semantic relationships could give rise to contrast. Earliest studies in semantics also concentrated on identifying what distinguished clauses joined by ''and'' from clauses joined by ''but''. In discourse theory, and computational discourse, contrast is a major discourse relation, on par with relationship like ''explanation'' or ''narration'', and work has concentrated on trying to identify contrast in naturally produced texts, especially in cases where the contrast is not explicitly marked. In
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
, 'contrast' is identified, when two linguistic elements occur in the same environment(s), and replacing one with the other creates a difference in meaning. Two elements that contrast in identical environments make a
minimal pair In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, spoken or Sign language, signed, that differ in only one phonological element, such as a phoneme, toneme or chroneme, and have distinct meanings. They are used to ...
.


References

{{Formal semantics Linguistic morphology Semantics