Equivalents of two languages may have corresponding senses but there could be some language-specific senses that are not found in one of the languages. Previous research used different ways to present identical and different meanings of equivalents, but seldom provided explanation for how senses could be connected or derived. The present study proposes a semantic feature approach, in which a sense flow chart is used to present how semantic features of an action verb and their specifications may explain the variation among the literal senses as well as the derivation routes of the figurative senses. Two equivalents, Chinese PA2 and English CRAWL, were chosen, and their usages in the corpus and their senses from dictionaries were examined with the specifications of semantic features (some taken from Gao (2001)) of the crawling action. Results showed that the identified semantic features could be classified into two categories: salient and minor semantic features. Specifications of salient features (e.g., „human,‟ „plant‟ or „non-creature‟ in the [Agent] feature) can adequately explain the differences among literal senses. Specifications of minor features (e.g., „search‟ and „examine‟ in the [Intention] feature) can suggest necessary clues for the derivation of some figurative senses. It was also found that specifications of semantic features were embedded differently in Chinese PA2 then in English CRAWL. Due to the differences, one specification of a feature may receive different weight of emphasis from the two languages which thus induces the derivation of a language-specific sense (e.g., Flesh—Crawl in English). For pedagogy, our findings imply that an underlying set of semantic features with their specifications could be provided to learners so that they can know what and why a targeted word in L2 differs from its equivalent in their L1.
Studies in English Language and Literature (Special Issue), No.31, pp.247-263 英語語言與文學學刊