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In
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo ...

linguistics
, hyponymy (from
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as 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 ...
between a hyponym denoting a subtype and a hypernym or hyperonym denoting a supertype. In other words, the
semantic field In , a semantic field is a lexical set of words grouped (by ) that refers to a specific subject.Howard Jackson, Etienne Zé Amvela, ''Words, Meaning, and Vocabulary'', Continuum, 2000, p14. The term is also used in ,Ingold, Tim (1996). ''Key deba ...
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#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
ὑπέρ, ''hupér'', "over", and ὄνυμα, ''ónuma'', "name") is the converse of hyponymy. Other names for hypernym include umbrella term and blanket term. A hyponym refers to a ''type''. A
meronym In linguistics, meronymy (from Greek language, Greek μέρος, ''méros'', "part", and ὄνυμα, ''ónuma'', "name") is a semantics, semantic relation between a meronym denoting a part and a holonym denoting a whole. In simpler terms, a mero ...
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 Stimulus (physiology), stimuli and providing data for perception. During sensation, sense organs collect stimuli for Tran ...
rather than words. For instance, the word ''screwdriver'' used in the previous example refers to the
screwdriver tool
screwdriver tool
, and not to the screwdriver drink. Hyponymy is a
transitive relation In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
: if X is a hyponym of Y, and Y is a hyponym of Z, then X is a hyponym of Z. For example, ''
violet Violet may refer to: Common meanings * Violet (color), a spectral color with wavelengths shorter than blue * One of a list of plants known as violet, particularly: ** Viola (plant), ''Viola'' (plant), a genus of flowering plants Places United ...
'' is a hyponym of ''
purple Purple is any of a variety of color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the ...

purple
'' and ''purple'' is a hyponym of ''
color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American Engli ...

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 dog or domestic dog (''Canis familiaris'' or ''Canis lupus familiaris'') is a Domestication, domesticated descendant of the wolf which is characterized by an upturning tail. The dog Origin of the domestic dog, derived from an Pleistocene w ...

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, British Academy, 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 (lin ...
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, next to the index finger. 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 ...

thumb
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 related meanings. Polysemy is thus distinct from homonymy—or homophone, homophony—which is an accidental similarity betwee ...
". 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 related meanings. Polysemy is thus distinct from homonymy—or homophone, homophony—which is an accidental similarity betwee ...
", 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 The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or Amer ...

Yankee
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.


Etymology

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 computation, automation, a ...
often terms this relationship an "
is-a In knowledge representation Knowledge representation and reasoning (KR², KR&R) is the field of artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence demonstrated by machines, unlike the natural intelligence human intelligence ...
" 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 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 too ...
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 compression 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 Computer-aided translation (CAT), also referred to as machine-assisted translation (MAT) or machine-aided human translation (M ...
.


See also

* Contrast set *
Has-a In database designDatabase design is the organization of data according to a database model. The designer determines what data must be stored and how the data elements interrelate. With this information, they can begin to fit the data to the databa ...
* Genus proximum *
Meronymy and holonymy In linguistics Linguistics is the science, 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 ...
*
-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 a ...
*
Polysemy Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple related meanings. Polysemy is thus distinct from homonymy—or homophone, homophony—which is an accidental similarity betwee ...
*
Subcategory In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...
*
Synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone ...
*
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 A dictionary is a listing of lexemes from the lexicon of one or more specific languages, often arranged Alphabetical order, alphabetically (or by radical-and-stroke sorting, radical and stroke for ...
for the English language, which puts words in semantic relations to each other, mainly by using the concepts ''hypernym'' and ''hyponym'')


Notes


References


Sources

* *


External links


Hypernym
at Everything2.com {{Lexicology Hierarchy Semantic relations