Conceptual Spaces, Features, and Word Meanings: The Case of Dutch Shirts

  • Joost ZwartsEmail author
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 359)


This paper explores how a conceptual space for the representation of word meanings can be constructed and visualized for one particular domain, namely Dutch words for different types of shirts. It draws on earlier empirical corpus-based research that has identified different features for uniquely describing each of these types and different ways in which they are lexically described in fashion magazines. The present study defines a metric that makes it possible to construct a feature-based space in which the extension of each of the Dutch shirt terms can be visualized and in which it is possible to study the distribution of words and the validity of different constraints on that distribution: conjunctivity, convexity, connectivity, coherence, and centrality. Although the paper concludes that definite conclusions about these constraints are only possible on the basis of more complete lexical datasets, it demonstrates the potential of the conceptual space approach for studying word meanings.


Word meaning Features Categorization Similarity Semantic map 



I thank the audience for helpful questions and remarks as well as two anonymous reviewers and Peter Gärdenfors for their comments. The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO, grant 360-70-340) and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study are also gratefully acknowledged for their support.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Languages, Literature and CommunicationUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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