Is there a one-to-one relationship between word and meaning?


If you consider a word such as rebuild, you will note that there are two distinct elements of meaning in it: re and build, i.e. ‘to build again’. The same applies to disbelieve which may be paraphrased as ‘not to believe’. Elements of meaning which are represented by several orthographic words in one language, say English, may be represented by one orthographic word in another, and vice versa. For instance, tennis player is written as one word in Turkish: tenisçi; if it is cheap as one word in Japanese: yasukattara; but the verb type is rendered by three words in Spanish: pasar a maquina. This suggests that there is no one-to-one correspondence between orthographic words and elements of meaning within or across languages.


Mona Baker (1992) In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation, Routledge: London and New York, p. 11.