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5fan ru The problem of linguistic meaning. Types of linguistic meaning. Main approaches to the definition of meaning

The problem of linguistic meaning. Types of linguistic meaning. Main
approaches to the definition of meaning.
Semasiology (or semantics ) is a branch of linguistics which studies
meaning . There are three main categories of definitions which may be referred to
as :-analytical or referential definition of meaning - functional or contextual
definition of meaning,- operational or information-oriented definition of
1. Analytical or referential definition of meaning. They seek to find the
essence of meaning establishing the interdependence between words of the objects
or phenomena they denote. The best known analytical model of meaning is the
so-called "basic triangle". 1st component - sound form of the linguistic sign. 2nd
component - concept. 3rd component - referent (object of reality).
Sound-form: Meaning is in a way of correlation b/w the sound form of the
word, the underline concept & the concrete object it denotes. They are connected
directly that means that if we hear a sound-form a certain idea arises in our mind &
the idea brings out a certain referent that exists in the reality . But the sound-form
& the referent are connected indirectly because there are no objects or phenomena
in the reality that predict a certain sound-form , that need to be named by a certain
sequence of sounds . The strongest point in the approach is an attempt to link the
notion of meaning with the process of naming the objects , processes or
phenomena of concrete reality . The analytical definitions of meaning are usually
criticized on the grounds that they cannot be applied to sentences .
Concept (or our thought) 1. is a category of human cognition 2 is the
thought of an object that singles out its essential features. 3 is a result of
abstraction & generalization Concept is the same for everybody in a definite period
of time. # дом - house, home meaning concept
Referent Meaning is linguistic whereas the object is beyond the level of
language. One referent/object can be named different names. #a cat (object): -cat,
kitty, murca, my sweet heart.
Conclusion: Meaning is not to be identical with any of 3 points of the
triangle but is closely connected with them.
Critics on this approach: 1.The referential definition of meaning can hardly
be applied to semantic additions that come to the surface in the process of
communication . 2. It can not be applied to sentences. e. g. The sentence " I like to
read long novels " does not express single notion , it represents composites of
notions specifying the relations between them. 3. The referential approach fails to
account for that fact that one word may denote different objects & phenomena .
That is the case of polysemy . On the other hand one & the same object may be
denoted by different words & that is the case of synonymy .
2. Functional or contextual definitions of meaning.- It maintains that the
meaning of a linguistic unit can be studied only through its relation to other
linguistic units. # to move meanings are different, they function in speech
movement "to move" - may be followed by a noun & preceded by a noun o
pronoun. "movement"- it can be preceded by a preposition -The position of the
word in relation to other word is called distribution of the word. Different meaning
of one & the same word:#to take a seat different distribution=>different meaning
to take to smb (to like)
-The key word in this approach is CONTEXT. The Context is defined as the
minimum stretch of speech necessary & sufficient to determine which of the
possible meanings of the polysemantic word is used. -The functional approach to
meaning is important because it emphasizes the fact that words are seldom if ever
used in isolation & thus the meaning of a word is revealed only when it is realized
in a context. But on the whole the functional approach may be described as a
complimentary , additional to the referential one.
3. Operational definition of meaning. They are centered on defining
meaning through its role in the process of communication. Just like functional
approach information-oriented definitions are part of studying words in action.
They are more interested in how the words work, how the meaning works than
what the meaning is.Types of meaning – grammatical, - lexical,- part of speech
Grammatical meaning is defined as an expression in speech of
relationship b/w words. Gram.meaning is a component of meaning recurrent in
identical sets of individual forms of different words. #thought, asked, worked - past
tense meaning;tables, peaces - the meaning of plurality
Lexical meaning is the meaning proper to the given linguistic unit in all its
forms & distributions. #go, goes, went, going, gone - they have the same lexical
meaning (process of movement).
Both lexical & grammatical meanings may cut the word meaning & neither
can exist without the other. #сведения, information - semantically they are not
identically because English word doesn't have the meaning of plurality. In some
parts of speech the prevailing component is grammatical. #to be - linking verb
The essence of the Part of speech meaning of a word is revealed in the
classification of lexical items into major word classes: nouns, verbs, adverbs,
All members of a major word class share a distinguishing semantic
component, which though very abstract, it may be viewed as a lexical component
of part of speech meaning.
#Class noun - abstract semantic component is thingness (вещественность)
The grammatical aspect of part of speech meaning is conveyed, as a rule, by a set
of forms. # to come IN - внутрь IN the table - on/under the table
Types of meaning.
1.direct and figurative/transferredа.e.g. This tea is too sugary.b.I don’t
like this sugary music. (figurative)
2.main and minor (main- is a basic meaning , the most frequent, the
chief idea)e.g. point (has 16 meanings)3.dictionary and contextual(узуальное и
окказиональное )e.g. “rose” – ‘flower’ “a born rose“ – as a reference to the
person (a simile)