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II. Lexical and Grammatical Meaning
I. Lexical meaning
Lexical meaning and its structure.
The branch of lexicology that is devoted to the study of meaning is known as Semasiology (from Gr . semasia - "signification").
There are 2 major approaches to the problem: 1) the referential approach, which formulates the essence of meaning as the interdependence between words and things or concepts they denote; 2) the functional approach, which studies the functions of a word in speech.
The referential model of meaning is based on the so-called basic semantic triangle. It includes:
1. The sound-form (Sign) of the word: [bз:d].
2. The referent (Denotatum) – the object which the word names: the actual bird.
3. The concept (Designatum) – The essential properties of this object which are reflected in human mind: “a feathered animal with wings“.
Meaning is closely connected with all parts of the semantic triangle but cannot be equated with any of them. Meaning and concept are very closely associated but not identical. Meaning is a linguistic category. Concept is a logical and psychological category, a unit of thinking. Meaning and concept coincide only in scientific terms that have no general meanings (morpheme, phoneme, amoeba) and in terminilogical meanings of polysemantic words, e.g. legal, medical or grammatical usages of the word case.
Generally speaking, meaning can be described as a component of the word through which a concept is communicated, thus making the word capable of denoting real objects, qualities, actions and abstract notions. In other words, the lexical meaning of a word is the realization of a notion by means of a definite language system.
The functional approach assumes that the meaning of a linguistic unit can be studied only through its relation to other linguistic units and not through its relation to concept or referent, e.g. we know that the meaning of “make v“ and “make n“ is different because they function in speech differently. Analysing various contexts in which these words are used we can observe that they have different distribution. As the distribution of the two words is different, their meanings are different too.
The word is a lexical-grammatical unity. Its content plane includes two types of meaning: lexical and grammatical.
Lexical meaning is individual, unique. It does not belong to any other word in the same language: bicycle – a vehicle with two wheels, handle-bars to guide it with, a seat, and two pedals to make it go. Grammatical meaning is general, standard. It belongs to a whole class of words and word-forms: bicycle – a noun in the common case, singular.
It follows that by lexical meaning we designate the meaning proper to the given linguistic unit in all its forms and distributions, while by grammatical meaning we designate the meaning proper to sets of word-forms common to all words of a certain class
At the same time lexical and grammatical meanings co-exist in the word and are interdependent. The interrelation of the lexical and the grammatical meaning and the role played by each varies in different word-classes and even in different groups of words within one and the same class. In some parts of speech the prevailing component is the grammatical type of meaning while in others the lexical meaning comes to the foreground.
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