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Calculating the Distance Between Near-Synonyms Across Languages: A Case Study on Chinese and Japanese
International Journal of Language and Linguistics
Volume 7, Issue 2, March 2019, Pages: 85-92
Received: Mar. 19, 2019; Accepted: Apr. 26, 2019; Published: May 15, 2019
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Shi Jianjun, Institute of Linguistics, Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai, China
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The study of differences between near-synonyms across languages has always been a hot area of research in foreign language teaching and cross-language comparison. A linguistic phenomenon received special attention, Chinese-Japanese homographs often confuse learners since they have same forms yet differ slightly in terms of their meanings and usages. Traditional studies were unfolded mainly in two aspects: case studies on homograph discrimination and division of homographs according to meaning & usage distance. Researches concerning the latter aspect tend to distinguish near-synonyms between languages by means of a three-way classification, i.e. synonyms, heteronyms, and near-synonyms. However, this classification is far from satisfactory in that they cannot measure “near-synonymy” in an accurate and gradable manner since the term “near-synonymy” per se is too broad a term to define. This paper proposes a statistical method for calculating near-synonyms across languages by means of parallel corpus, where translation ratio, F-measure and inter-translation ratio are taken into account as parameters. By means of the F-value, this highly productive method is not only applicable in classifying synonyms, heteronyms, and near-synonyms between Chinese and Japanese, but also allows measuring the meanings & usage distance between cross-linguistic near-synonyms. To prove the effectiveness of this method, around 1900 pairs of Chinese and Japanese near-synonyms are compared and has gained good effects.
Near-Synonyms, Meaning & Usage Distance, Inter-Translation Ratio, F-measure
To cite this article
Shi Jianjun, Calculating the Distance Between Near-Synonyms Across Languages: A Case Study on Chinese and Japanese, International Journal of Language and Linguistics. Vol. 7, No. 2, 2019, pp. 85-92. doi: 10.11648/j.ijll.20190702.15
Copyright © 2019 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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