Sememic stratum

From Glottopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The sememic stratum or semological structure or conceptual system or gnostemic system in neurocognitive linguistics is the highest level of the linguistic information system. It may also be the highest level for various other modalities. Certainly it is connected with the system for visual perception and other kinds of perception and to various motor areas. Elements in this stratum are realized by elements in the lexemic stratum; some later views allow this system to connect to any of the primary systems, in order to handle various kinds of stylistically conditioned alternations.


Take the meaning of a word like "red". We may call it the concept "red", an element in the sememic system. It is connected to other concepts within the sememic system, such as subtypes of "red" and the supertype "color". It is also directly connected to a point in the visual system where we have the visual image of "red". Thus, part of the meaning of "red" to a human being is the visual image of what "red" looks like.


The conceptual system seems to be a central coordinating point for modalities other than language. It permits us to think about anything within the range of human experience.

The sememic stratum is the most fertile level for the formation of new connections in the linguistic information system. New connections are formed all the time, because the system itself undergoes changes while it is being used. A speaker's sememic stratum is not a frozen, static network. As a result of experience, changes take place daily in most individuals.

People have the ability to create new concepts in which you take two ideas that have been separate and discover that they can be put together. This involves building a connection between two different points in the conceptual network.

The conceptual system is, for any individual, what all of his experience of the outside world gets filtered through. Try as we might, we cannot directly experience reality, because our own conceptual system intervenes. One category of such interventions is the semantic mirage.