Lexical meaning

UNIT 2 - Word Meaning – part 1
• Referential approach – Richards and Ogden – semiotic triangle
(referent, symbol, concept) or de Saussure’s theory of linguistic
sign (signifiant – signifié)
• Functional approach – the meaning can be studied only through
its relation to other linguistic units.
Semantics = study of meaning
Lexical semantics – concerned with relationships among word
meanings (man – woman versus man – human being)
Types of meaning
– Grammatical meaning
– Lexical meaning
Grammatical meaning
• Examples:
• Depends on part of speech, distribution
Lexical meaning
• Identical in all forms and distributions
• Lex. and gram. meaning coexist, in some word groups gram.
meaning is more important (e.g. auxiliary verbs)
• Lexical meaning = DENOTATION + CONNOTATION
• Denotation is primary, connotation secondary, yet important
• To denote = to represent
• Denotational meaning = referential – makes communication
• The meaning we usually find in the dictionary
• The denotation of a word is its nucleus, the connotation its
loose envelope of associations.
• Expresses the emotion and style, personal attitude and point of
• Associations or expressivity surrounding the word.
• Can be positive or negative.
• Can be high or low.
• Important when translating – the connotation can be more
important than the notional component
• It is influenced by historical as well as cultural and social context
• Some connotations are universal associations, others only
Loaded Lexicon
• When a lexeme is highly charged with connotations, we refer to
it as ‘LOADED’
• typical for the language of politics, religion, fiction…
• scientists and lawyers try to avoid highly connotative