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Abstract

In this article we examine the concepts of polysemy and homonymy. After a broad overview of the topic we focus on the treatment of several examples in dictionaries and indicate how listing problems can arise. We look at how polysemy and honomymy are dealt with in Chinese - a language rich in ambiguous words full of connotations and associations and we look at some of the ensuing problems facing Chinese dictionary writers and suggest a user friendly model for ambiguous lexical entries. We explore how several English words such as the polysemous preposition 'over' can be dealt with in terms of image schemas and how this indicates a structured system in the mental lexicon. Vyvyan Evan's treatment of 'time' is also examined, his argument as to how it might be arranged in semantic memory and his conclusions about the lexicon having systematic semantic structure. We conclude by conceding that more work is required before the issues addressed in this paper can be unambiguously resolved.

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