English, and perhaps every other language, has systematic arrangements for deictic words, which shows again that that these words have meanings that can be divided into smaller pieces that we can call ‘sy mantic atoms’ (provided that they do not need to be further divided). Superficially, the systems of English, Spanish and Japanese are rather different, which is one reason why we can seldom translate them word for word. Nevertheless, when we look closely at the sy mantic elements underlying these systems we find amazing similarities, and we see how English can express the same three distances as Japanese dei tic elements by combining the [Spk] contrast between ‘here’,’ there’ with the [Awa] contrast in ‘to come’,’ to go’. We have seen several extent ions of these contrasts, and have discovered that a word’s collocations, what it can be combined semantically with, can provide strong indications of its meaning. Alone, however, they are not proof and should not be accepted uncritically. The similarities in semantic elements suggest the idea that human beings might all have the same ones from which to build words, and at the beginning of this book there is a list of the most common and universal elements.
It is reasonable to suspect that we all have the same basic building blocks of articulate thought, for we are all human beings. This concept of universally shared elements is clearly not true for words, however. Languages differ widely even in t hier central aspects such as dei xis for what words they have and what t hier meanings are. Ofcourse, the words that describe the world must necessarily vary quite a lot; Eskimos live in a world that is very different from that of the polynesians, so their language need words for things that dont even exist in the otters world, like snow and coral for instance. it might be however, that the same elements can have different meanings.