Grammatical meaning of the word

Comparison grammatical and semantic component of word-forms of the same word. Semantic analysis of related words in English and Russian. Denotational and Connotational meaning of the word. Historical, Psychological, Linguistic causes of semantic change.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 04.11.2012
Размер файла 14,3 K

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Comparing word-forms of one and the same word we observe that besides grammatical meaning, there is another component of meaning to be found in them. Unlike the grammatical meaning this component is identical in all the forms of the word. Thus, e.g. the word-forms go, goes, went, going, gonepossess different grammatical meanings of tense, person and so on, but in each of these forms we find one and the same semantic component denoting the process of movement. This is the lexical meaning of the word which may be described as the component of meaning proper to the word as a linguistic unit, i.e. recurrent in all the forms of this word. The difference between the lexical and the grammatical components of meaning is not to be sought in the difference of the concepts underlying the two types of meaning, but rather in the way they are conveyed. The concept of plurality, e.g., may be expressed by the lexical meaning of the world plurality;it may also be expressed in the forms of various words irrespective of their lexical meaning, e.g. boys, girls, joysetc.

The concept of relation may be expressed by the lexical meaning of the word relationand also by any of the prepositions, e.g. in, on, behindetc. 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. Both the lexical and the grammatical meaning make up the word-meaning as neither can exist without the other. That can be also observed in the semantic analysis of correlated words in different languages. E.g. the Russian word сведенияis not semantically identical with the English equivalent informationbecause unlike the Russian сведенияthe English word does not possess the grammatical meaning of plurality which is part of the semantic structure of the Russian word.

Grammatical meaning of the word

Every word has two aspects: the outer aspect (its sound form) and the inner aspect (its meaning). Sound and meaning do not always constitute a constant unit even in the same language. It is more or less universally recognised that word-meaning is not homogeneous but is made up of various components the combination and the interrelation of which determine to a great extent the inner facet of the word. These components are usually described as types of meaning. The two main types of meaning that are readily observed are the grammatical and the lexical meanings to be found in words and word-forms. We notice, e.g., that word-forms, such as girls, winters, joys, tablesetc. though denoting widely different objects of reality have something in common. This common element is the grammatical meaning of plurality which can be found in all of them. Thus grammatical meaning may be defined ,as the component of meaning recurrent in identical sets of individual forms of different words, as, e.g., the tense meaning in the word-forms of verbs (asked, thought, walked, etc.) or the case meaning in the word-forms of various nouns (girl's, boy's, night's etc.). Ina broad sense it may be argued that linguists who make a distinction between lexical and grammatical meaning are, in fact, making a distinction between the functional (linguistic) meaning which operates at various levels as the interrelation of various linguistic units and referential (conceptual) meaning as the interrelation of linguistic units and referents (or concepts). In modern linguistic science it is commonly held that some elements of grammatical meaning can be identified by the position of the linguistic unit in relation to other linguistic units, i.e. by its distribution. Word-forms speaks, reads, writeshave one and the same grammatical meaning as they can all be found in identical distribution, e.g. only after the pronouns he, she, itand before adverbs like well, badly, to-day,etc.

Denotational and Connotational meaning of the word

Proceeding with the semantic analysis we observe that lexical meaning is not homogenous either and may be analysed as including denotational and connotational components. As was mentioned above one of the functions of words is to denote things, concepts and so on. Users of a language cannot have any knowledge or thought of the objects or phenomena of the real world around them unless this knowledge is ultimately embodied in words which have essentially the same meaning for all speakers of that language. This is the denotational meaning, i.e. that component of the lexical meaning which makes communication possible. There is no doubt that aphysicist knows more about the atom than a singer does, or that an arctic explorer possesses a much deeper knowledge of what arctic ice is like than a man who has never been in the North. Nevertheless they use the words atom, Arctic,etc. and understand each other.

3. Semantic change - changes of both synchronic and diachronic nature, which concerns the semantic content of the word. New meanings would appear by means of semantic shift (q.v.) and semantic transference (q.v.), which lead to the growth of polysemy. Causes for can be both extralinguistic and linguistic.

Semantic change.

There are many causes of semantic change:

· 1) Historical causes.

· According to historical principle, everything develops changes, social institutions change in the course of time, the words also change.

· Ex.: "car" which goes back to Latin "carfus" which meant a four wheeled (vehicle) wagon, despite of the lack of resemblance.

· 2) Psychological causes.

· Taboos of various kinds.

· Words are replaced by other words, sometimes people do not realize that they use euphemisms.

· Ex.: "lady's room" instead of the "lavatory"

· 3) Linguistic causes

· Tendency of a language to borrow a particular metaphorical development of a word from another language.

The nature of semantic change.

Metaphor accounts for a very considerable proportions of semantic changes.

Language is full of so-called fossilized (trite-банальный, избитый, неоригинальный) metaphors, which no longer call up the image of an object from which they were borrowed.

Ex.: the leaf of a book; hands of a clock; a clock face; hands of a cabbage.

Metonymy is the tendency of certain words to occur in near proximity & mutually influence one another.


· He drinks 2 cups (tea, coffee) every morning.

· He has eaten 2 plates (porridge) today.

"Bureau" (French origin)

When it appeared in the language, meant "thick green cloth" usually tables were covered with it, it became associated with a writing table. (BrE)

AmE: 2 further stages

· - an office furnished with writing tables

· - an office

1) The substitution of cause, form effect

- sleeping sickness is diseases which causes sleep & vice versa.

2) Catachresis is a gradual planting of one sense for another for a large or short period of time.

Ex.: - sermon (early) - any conversation

(now) - religious conversation

One of the chief consequences of semantic change is the change in the area meaning.

Each word has an area of meaning, it has certain limits.

As a result of semantic change this area of meaning can be restricted (ограниченный, узкий) or expended (тратить, расходовать (на что-л. - for, on, in)). grammatical semantic denotational linguistic


1. Restriction of meaning:

- names for classes of animals

"deer" - earlier included all wild animals

now only deer

"fowl" - earlier - birds in general

now - poultry & wild fowl (дичь)

- a number of Anglo-Saxon words shrunk under the influence of Norman words

"pond" - from Latin "pontus" (sea or large stretch of water).

Due to its confrontation with word "lake" "pond" changed its meaning to "пруд".

2. Expansion of meaning.

It happens as a result of chance situations.

The word "вокзал' came to Russian from English word "Vauxhall" as the general name of all main railway stations. Now - автовокзал, ж/д вокзал, м/р вокзал.

The same thing happens very often with loan words (заимствованное слово).

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