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Aspects of Lexical Meaning
In the general framework of lexical meaning several aspects can be singled out.
a) the denotational aspect;
b) the connotational aspect;
c) the pragmatic aspect.
The denotational aspect of lexical meaning is the part of lexical meaning which
establishes correlation between the name and the object, phenomenon, process or characteristic feature of concrete reality (or thought as such), which is denoted by the given word. The term “denotational” is derived from the English word to denote which means “be a sign of, indicate, stand as a name or symbol for”. For example, the denotational meaning of booklet is “a small thin book that gives information about something”. It is through the denotational aspect of meaning that bulk of information is conveyed in the process of communication. The denotational aspect of lexical meaning expresses the notional content of a word.
The connotational aspect of lexical meaning is the part of meaning which reflects the attitude of the speaker towards what he speaks about. Connotation conveys additional information in the process of communication. Connotation includes:
1) the emotive charge, e.g. daddy as compared to father,
2) evaluation, which may be positive or negative, e.g. clique (a small group of people who seem unfriendly to other people) as compared to group (a set of people);
3) intensity (or expressiveness) e.g. adoreas compared to love;
4) imagery, e.g. to wade – to walk with an effort (through mud, water or anything that makes progress difficult). The figurative use of the word gives rise to another meaning which is based on the same image as the first – to wade through a book.
The pragmatic aspect of lexical meaning is the part of meaning that conveys
information on the situation of communication. Like the connotational aspect, the pragmatic aspect falls into four closely linked together subsections:
1) information on the “time and space” relationship of the participants;
2) information on the participants and the given language community;
3) information on the tenor of discourse. The tenors of discourse reflect how the addresser (the speaker or the writer) interacts with the addressee (the listener or the reader);
4) information on the register of communication. Three main types of the situations of communication are usually singled out: formal, neutral and informal. Practically every word in the language is register-oriented. Thus, the pragmatic aspect of meaning refers words like cordial, anticipate, aid, celestial to the formal register while units like cut it out, to be kidding, hi, stuff are to be used in the informal register.
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