Full text: Semantics of ownership

two semantic fields. One field was colors, the other the 
"have" family of verbs. In the latter study, they examined 
29 "have" verbs, including "own", using two difterent 
semantic tasks. One group of subjects (N=17) did a tree 
construction task in which they successively paired verbs 
and clusters of verbs on the basis of maximum similarity. 
The other group (N=41) did a direct grouping task in which 
they sorted the verbs into groups based on similar meanings. 
The number of groups and the group definitions were 
determined by each subject. The results of both studies 
showed that "own" clustered with "have", "belong", "hold", 
"keep", and "save". "Use" was a weak member of the "own" 
cluster for the second group. Since the data were collected 
for statistical illustrations, the semantics of the verbs 
themselves were not of interest to the experimenters and 
were not discussed or interpreted. But the studies do 
appear to show that verbs pertaining to possessing and 
guarding are closely related to the concept of owning. 
The rules of ownership and the language of ownership 
must be closely inter-related. One way to study a concept 
is to treat it as a problem in semantics. As opposed to the 
more observational studies of ownership behaviors evident in 
studies of territoriality and social development, a semantic 
analysis of ownership would be more amenable to larger

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