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Thought or Reference

 
 

Symbol Referent

By the “symbol” here is meant the word; thought or reference is concept. The dotted line suggests that there is no immediate relation between word and referent: it is established only through the concept.

On the other hand, there is a hypothesis that concepts can only find their realisation through words. It seems that thought is dormant till the word wakens it up. It is only when we hear a spoken word or read a printed word that the corresponding concept springs into mind.

The branch of linguistics which specialises in the study of meaning is called semantics. As with many terms, the term semantics is ambiguous for it can stand, as well, for the expressive aspect of language in general and for the meaning of one particular word in all its varied aspects and nuances (i.e. the semantics of a word = the meaning(s) of a word).

The meanings of all the utterances of a speech community include the total experience of that community; arts, science, practical occupations, amusements, personal and family life.

The modern approach to semantics is based on the assumption that the inner form of the word (i.e. its meaning) presents a structure which is called the semantic structure of the word.

Thus, meaning is a certain reflection in our mind of objects, phenomena or relations that makes part of the linguistic sign − its so-called inner facet, whereas the sound-form functions as its outer facet:

Within grammatical and lexical aspects of a language grammatical and lexical meanings are distinguished.

Grammatical meaning is defined as the expression in speech of relationships between words. The grammatical meaning is more abstract and more generalized than the lexical meaning. It is recurrent in identical sets of individual forms of different words as the meaning of plurality in the following words students, books, windows, compositions.

Lexical meaning. The definitions of lexical meaning given by various authors, though different in detail, agree in the basic principle: they all point out that lexical meaning is the realization of concept or emotion by means of a definite language system.

1) The component of meaning proper to the word as a linguistic unit, i.e. recurrent in all the forms of this word and in all possible distributions of these forms. (Ginzburg R.S., Rayevskaya N.N. and others).

2) The semantic invariant of the grammatical variation of a word (Nikitin M.V.).

3) The material meaning of a word, i.e. the meaning of the main material part of the word which reflects the concept the given word expresses and the basic properties of the thing (phenomenon, quality, state, etc.) the word denotes. (Mednikova E.M.).

The conceptual content of a word is expressed in its denotative meaning. To denote is to serve as a linguistic expression for a concept or as a name for an individual object. It is the denotational meaning that makes communication possible.

Connotationis the pragmatic communicative value the word receives depending on where, when, how, by whom, for what purpose and in what contexts it may be used. There are four main types of connotations: stylistic, emotional, evaluative andexpressive/intensifying.

Stylistic connotations is what the word conveys about the speaker's attitude to the social circumstances and the appropriate functional style (slay vs kill), evaluative connotation may show his approval or disapproval of the object spoken of (clique vs group), emotional connotation conveys the speaker's emotions (mummy vs mother; UA батько vs татко; відомий vs славетний vs сумнозвісний.), the degree of intensity (adore vs love; UA вітер vs вітерець vs вітрище vs вітрюга.) is conveyed by expressive or intensifying connotation.

The interdependence of connotations with denotative meaning is also different for different types of connotations. Thus, for instance, emotional connotation comes into being on the basis of denotative meaning but in the course of time may substitute it by other types of connotation with general emphasis, evaluation and colloquial stylistic overtone. E.g. terrific which originally meant “frightening” is now a colloquialism meaning “very, very good” or “very great”: terrific beauty, terrific pleasure.

The orientation toward the subject-matter, characteristic of the denotative meaning, is substituted here by pragmatic orientation toward speaker and listener; it is not so much what is spoken about as the attitude to it that matters.

Fulfilling the significative and the communicative functions of the word the denotative meaning is present in every word and may be regarded as the central factor in the functioning of language.

The expressive function of the language (the speaker's feelings) and the pragmatic function (the effect of words upon listeners) are rendered in connotations. Unlike the denotative meaning, connotations are optional.

Connotation differs from the implicational meaning of the word. Implicational meaning is the implied information associated with the word, with what the speakers know about the referent. A wolf is known to be greedy and cruel (implicational meaning) but the denotative meaning of this word does not include these features. The denotativeorthe intentional meaning of the word wolf is “a wild animal resembling a dog that kills sheep and sometimes even attacks men”. Its figurative meaning is derived from implied information, from what we know about wolves − “a cruel greedy person”, also the adjective wolfish means “greedy”.


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    Thought or Reference     Symbol Referent By the “symbol” here is meant the word; thought or reference is concept. The dotted line suggests that there is no immediate relation between word and referent: it is established only through the concept. On the other hand, there is a hypothesis that concepts can only find their realisation through words. It seems that thought is dormant till the word wakens it up. It is only when we hear a spoken word or read a printed... [читать подробенее]