A word

What Is a Word?
A word is the basic unit of a language
used for the purposes of human
communication, possessing a meaning,
materially representing a group of
sounds, susceptible to grammatical
employment (A.Meillet).
The lexical meaning of a word is to
denote a notion, emotion, or attitude by
means of a linguistic system.
1. The information not connected with the
process of communication (denotative)
2. The information connected with
a) communicative situation,
b) members of communication
Question: Which of the two meanings is
obligatory and which is optional?
Denotative meaning of a word
• A word denotes a specific thing as well
as a concept of a thing, i.e the word
has a denotative meaning.
• The word table denotes any object that
is a table; it is the name of a whole
class of objects that are tables.
• The knowledge of the word-denotation is
shared by all those who speak the given
language (communication is possible).
Most words express ideas and since they
stand for ideas they have connotations,
even though they are often scarcely
perceptible. That is because ideas
themselves have connotations: they
produce some sort of intellectual or
emotional reaction inside us.
1. Personal connotations: the result of
the experience of the individual man or
E.g.: teacher. What is your personal
attitude to a teacher? How was that
attitude formed?
2. General connotations: the reaction to
this or that word is substantially the
same. E.g.: love, music, poetry; war,
unemployment, jealousy, spite.
3. Usual connotations are those which
are fixed in dictionaries and understood
by people in the same way: girl, smart,
4. Occasional connotations are those
appearing only in the context and
sometimes changing the meaning to the
unrecognizable. Thus, in some contexts
the word maiden may sound ironical.
Comment on the denotative
and connotative meaning of
this text:
«Na rodinu t’anetsa tuča,
Štop tol’ko poplakat’ nad nej»
What is your emotional
His [Dr Davidson’s] appearance was
singular. He was very tall and thin, with
long limbs loosely jointed, hollow
cheeks and curiously high cheek-bones;
he had so cadaverous an air that it
surprised you to notice how full and
sensual were his lips.
(From Rain by S.Maugham)
Connotative Meaning of
• Emotive Component of the Meaning
• Evaluative Component of the
• Expressive Component of the
• Stylistic Component of the Meaning
Emotive Component
• Linguistic expression : a) suffixes ie/y,
e.g., birdie, Lizzie, Freddy.
• No specific linguistic expression (but the
concept of the word): dreadful, hairraising, terrifying, amiable, etc.
• Words of purely emotive meaning, e.g.
interjections: oh, ah, alas, hm, etc.
NB!* Words denoting emotions or
Evaluative Component
• Positive or negative evaluation:
Compare: time-tested method,
out-of-date method.
• Words with the evaluative components
are called bias-words: hooligan,
master, pushy (Who’s that pushy
dame? Что это за напористая баба?)
• I am firm, you are obstinate, he is
Expressive component
• The word creates an image
• The word by its imagery emphasizes
what is named by it
• The image may be intensified by other
words (syntactically connected with it):
She was a thin, frail little thing, and
her hair which was delicate and thin
was bobbed …
• Quantitative expressiveness:
Stylistic component
(or stylistic coloring)
• The word possesses this component when it
is typical for some functional style
• Certain stylistic reference may suggest the
character’s background: “Chief, you’re
gonna force me inna roughin’ ya up a little
bit. I don’t wanna do it, but that’s the way
it looks,” he said. “You owe us five
* For the word buck see the next slide.
buck, n. Slang. a dollar.
1855-1860, Amer.; perhaps BUCK
in sense «buckskin»; deerskins
were used by Indians and
frontiersmen as a unit of exchange
in transactions with merchants
[Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged
Dictionary of the English language. –
NY: Random House, 1996. – P.271.]
Comment on connotations of the
following words and phrases
The Grapes of Wrath
The Citadel
A Farewell to Arms
The Silver Spoon
Woe from Wit
The Green Years
Cat in the Rain
There were only two Americans
stopping at the hotel... Their room was on
the second floor facing the sea. It also faced
the public garden and the war monument. It
was made of bronze and glistened in the
rain. It was raining. The rain dripped from
the palm-trees. Water stood in pools on the
gravel paths. The sea broke in a long line in
the rain and slipped back down the beach to
come up and break again in the rain.
Cat in the Rain
They did not know any of the people they passed on
the stairs on their way to and from their room…
There were big palms and green benches in the
public garden. In the good weather there was
always an artist with his easel. Artists liked the
way the palms grew and the bright colors of the
hotels facing the gardens and the sea. Italians
came from a long way off to look up at the
monument … The motor cars were gone from the
square by the war monument. Across the square
in the doorway of the cafe a waiter stood looking
out at the empty square.
Home assignment
1. The lecture in a blue file.
2. Altick R. Connotation // V.I.Prokhorova,
E.G.Soshalskaya. Oral Practice through
Stylistic Analysis. - M.: Vysšaya škola,
1979. - Pp.7-13.
3. Arnold I.V. Стилистика. Современный
английский язык. - М.: Флинта: Наука,
2002. - С.150-162.