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Referential and functional approaches to meaning




Semasiology as the branch of linguistics.

Recommended Literature

Semasiology. Types of word meaning. Change of meaning. Polysemy.

Theme №2 Semasiology and Phraseology

1. Semasiology as the branch of linguistics. Referential and functional approaches to meaning.

2. Types of word meaning: lexical, grammatical meanings. Denotational and connotational components of lexical meaning. Implicational meaning.

3. Polysemy. The semantic structure of a polysemantic word.

4. Causes of development of new meanings.

5. Change of meaning.

5.1. Broadening (or Generalisation) of Meaning. Narrowing (or Specialisation) of Meaning.

5.2. Elevation and degradation of meaning of a word.

5.3. Transference Based on Resemblance (Similarity). Metaphor.

5.4. Transference Based on Contiguity. Metonymy.

 

1. Rayevska N.M. English Lexicology. − K„ 1979, − P. 116-119, 127-175.

2. Ginzburg and others. A Course in Modern English Lexicology, − M., 1979. − P. 13-38.

3. Arnold I.V. The English Word. − M., 1973. − P. 112-133.

4. Arnold I.V. The English Word. − M. 1986. − P. 37-76.

5. Nikolenko A.G. English Lexicology – Theory and Practice. – Вінниця, Нова книга, 2007. – 567с.

6. Харитоіічпк З.А. Лсксикология англииского язьїка. − Минск: в.ш., 1992 − С. 27-71.

7. Верба Л.Г. Порівняльна лексикологія англійської та української мов. − Вінниця: Нова Книга, 2003. − С. 67-87.

Semasiology is the branch of linguistics concerned with the meaning of words and word equivalents. The name comes from the Greek sēmasiā − signification (from sēma − sign sēmantikos − significant and logos − learning). The main objects of semasiological study are as follows: types of lexical meaning, polysemy and semantic structure of words, semantic development of words, the main tendencies of the change of word-meanings, semantic grouping in the vocabulary system, i.e. synonyms, antonyms, semantic fields, thematic groups, etc.

Referential approach to meaning. The common feature of any referential approach is that meaning is in some form or other connected with the referent (object of reality denoted by the word). The meaning is formulated by establishing the interdependence between words and objects of reality they denote. So, meaning is often understood as an object or phenomenon in the outside world that is referred to by a word.

Functional approach to meaning. In most present-day methods of lexicological analysis words are studied in context; a word is defined by its functioning within a phrase or a sentence. The meaning of linguistic unit is studied only through its relation to other linguistic units. So meaning is viewed as the function of a word in speech.



The meaning of a word though closely connected with the underlying concept is not identical with it.

Concept is a category of human cognition. Concept is the thought of the object that singles out the most typical, the most essential features of the object.

So all concepts are almost the same for the whole of humanity in one and the same period of its historical development. The meanings of words, however, are different in different languages. That is to say, words expressing identical concept may have different semantic structures in different languages. E.g. the concept of “a building for human habitation” is expressed in English by the word house, in Ukrainian − дім, but their meanings are not identical as house does not possess the meaning of “fixed residence of family or household” (домівка) which is part of the meaning of the Ukrainian word дім; it is expressed by another English word home.

The difference between meaning and concept can also be observed by comparing synonymous words and word-groups expressing the same concept but possessing linguistic meaning which is felt as different in each of the units, e.g. big, large; to die to pass away, to join the majority, to kick the bucket; child, baby, babe, infant.

Concepts are always emotionally neutral as they are a category of thought. Language, however, expresses all possible aspects of human consciousness. Therefore the meaning of many words not only conveys some reflection of objective reality but also the speaker's attitude to what he is speaking about, his state of mind. Thus, though the synonyms big, large, tremendous denote the same concept of size, the emotive charge of the word tremendous is much heavier than that of the other word.

2. Types of word meaning: lexical, grammatical meanings. Denotational and connotational components of lexical meaning. Implicational meaning.

Generally speaking, meaning can be more or less described as a component of the word through which a concept is communicated, in this way endowing the word with the ability of denoting real objects, qualities, actions and abstract notions. The complex relationships between referent (object, etc. denoted by the word), concept and wordare traditionally represented by the following triangle:





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