Part 3
Chapter 1
The meaning of the sentence
1. Sentence
• “a string of words put together by the grammatical rules of a language, (…) expressing
a complete thought’ (Hurford & B. Heasley, 2001:16,18)
2. Approaches to sentence meaning
• Denotational theory: reference and truth
• Conceptualist theory: concepts or ideas associated with the expression
• Pragmatic theory: meaning by participants in an interaction (meaning-is-use theory)
• Cognitive theory: a reflection of the way we conceptualize the world out there.
3. Grammaticality, acceptability, meaningfulness
• Grammatical sentences are not necessarily meaningful or acceptable
The farmer killed the house
• Acceptability: related to social etiquette, rationality and logical coherence
His father died last night
His father passed away last night
• Meaningfulness: conditioned by how well-formed that sentence is semantically
Colourless green ideas sleep furiously
-> meaningless, uninterpretable
4. Principle of compositionality
• The meaning of a sentence is determined by the meanings of its parts and by the way
in which those parts are assembled
=> Compositionality: structural meaning, textual meaning, representational meaning and
interpersonal meaning (modality)
• Structural meaning: results from a particular arrangement of the parts of the sentence
Ve dunno who tuk that yob.
• Representational meaning:
+ experiential function: to communicate
+ logical function: to relate ideas to each other on an equal or subordinate basis
• Interpersonal meaning: to establish and maintain social relations; to influence people’s
behaviour and get things done; to express speaker’s feelings, attitudes and opinions
• Textual meaning: to create texts, give text coherence and cohesion
5. Representational meaning
She overslept in the semantics class
• Participant: she
• Process: overslept
• Circumstance: in the semantics class
5.1. process
• In terms of transitivity: transitive and ergative
- Transitive: I gave him a book (actor, goal)
- Ergative: I heard the noise (causer and the affected)
I grow the flowers in my garden/ the flower grow in my garden
He broke the window/ the window broke (window-doer and the affected)
In terms of complement: intensive and extensive
- Intensive (with subject complement):
John is smart
- Extensive:
+ intransitive: He smokes
+ transitive: He drinks beer
In terms of grammatical categories
Material processes (actor and goal)
He has built a fortune along the way
Mental processes (a senser and phenomenon)
Everyone likes the play
- Perception (seeing, hearing, noticing, looking, smelling, tasting, etc)
- Affection (liking, fearing, hating, enjoying, etc)
- Cognition (thinking, knowing, understanding, realizing, etc)
Relational processes
Students are rich
(carrier and attribute)
(the identified and the identifier)
That student is in London Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day
She has a wonderful
That student is the talk machine
This pen is Mary’s
- Behavioural processes (on the border line between material and mental)
+ Processes of consciousness in forms of behaviours
Look, watch, stare, worry, dream, etc
+ Physiological processes
Laugh, smile, sigh, whine, shout, cry. etc
+ Verbal processes as behaviour:
Chatter, grumble, talk, etc
+ Other physiological processes
Breathe, cough, faint, yawn, etc
+ Bodily postures and pastimes
Sing, dance, lie down, sit down, lean, sit cross-legged, etc
- Verbal processes (on the borderline of mental and relational, a sayer)
Tell, insult, praise, slander, accuse, scold, tc
- Existential processes (on the borderline between relational and material)
- There comes a huge man
- Once upon a time, there lived a king who had a beautiful daughter
- There exist many problems to be solved
5.2. Participants
• Agentive
• Instrumental
• Factitive
• Locative
• Owner and possession
• Benefactive
• Comitative
• Source
The behaver
The carrier and attribute
The identifier and the identified
The existent
5.3. circumstances
• Time
• Place
• Condition: if
• Concession: although, despite, in spite of
• Result: so … that
• Manner: with a smile, on purpose, with a ruler, in English
• Attending circumstances: as everyone is here
• Cause: because
• Purpose: so as to, in order to, so that, for a rest, for dinner, for a drink…
6. Interpersonal meaning
6.1. Functions of speech: expressing the speaker’s attitude and opinion
6.2.Grammaticalization of modality:
6.2.1. Mood and modality
- Indicative:
I was absent yesterday -> report
Will she marry me? -> doubt
- Imperative: Be quiet!/ take a seat! -> request
- Subjunctive: I wish I could fly -> wish (epistemic)
It is necessary that he be here -> obligation
6.2.2. Modality in subordinate clause: I order that he must be here at once.
6.3. Lexicalization of modality:
6.3.1. Modal verbs
6.3.2. modal adjectives
6.3.3. modal adverbs
6.3.4. modal nouns
6.3.5. lexical verbs