A word and its meaning. Change of meaning in the English and Ukrainian languages

The semantic structure of English and Ukrainian words. The socio-linguistic, psychological and logical classification of semantic change. Both the lexical and the grammatical meanings make up the word-meaning as neither can exist without the other.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 02.10.2013
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A word and its meaning. Change of meaning in the English and Ukrainian languages


1. The semantic structure of English and Ukrainian words

2. Semantic change in English and Ukrainian

2.1 The socio-linguistic classification of semantic change

2.2 The psychological classification of semantic change

2.3 The logical classification of semantic change

1. The semantic structure of English and Ukrainian words

Word-meaning is not homogeneous but is made up of various components, or types of meaning. They are as follows.

The g r a m m a t i c a l meaning is the component of meaning 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 in Ukrainian - їхав, йшов, говорив) or the meaning of plurality (books, intentions, phenomena, столи, вікна, etc.).

The l e x i c o - g r a m m a t i c a l meaning (part-of-speech meaning) is the common meaning of words belonging to a lexico-grammatical class of words, it is the feature according to which they are grouped together. The interrelation of the lexical and the grammatical meaning varies in different word-classes. In some parts of speech the prevailing component is the grammatical type of meaning (e.g., in prepositions), in others - the lexical (e.g., in nouns, verbs, etc.).

The l e x i c a l meaning is the component of meaning proper to the given linguistic unit in all its forms and distributions. E.g., in the forms go, goes, went, gone (читає, читав, читатиме) we find one and the same semantic component denoting the process of movement.

Both the lexical and the grammatical meanings make up the word-meaning as neither can exist without the other.

Lexical meaning is not homogeneous either; it includes denotative and connotative components.

The d e n o t a t i v e component of lexical meaning expresses the conceptual content of a word. Fulfilling the nominative and the communicative functions of the word, it is present in every word and may be regarded as the central factor in the functioning of the language.

The c o n n o t a t i v e component of lexical meaning expresses the pragmatic communicative value the word receives depending on where, when, how, by whom, for what purpose and in what contexts it is used. Unlike the denotative component, the connotative component is optional. There are four main types of connotation. They are stylistic, emotive, evaluative and expressive, or intensifying.

When associations concern the situation in which the word is uttered (formal, familiar, etc.), the social relationships between the interlocutors (polite, rough), the purpose of communication (poetic, official), the connotation is s t y l i s t i c. E.g., parent (bookish) - father (neutral) - dad (colloquial); чоло (poetical) - лоб (neutral) - макітра (low colloquial)

An e m o t i v e connotation is acquired by the word because the referent named in the denotative meaning is associated with emotions. In the synonyms, e.g., large, big, tremendous and like, love, worship (подобатися, любити, обожнювати) the emotive charge of the words tremendous and worship is heavier than that of the other words. Cf. голівонька, серденько, матуся.

An e v a l u a t i v e connotation expresses approval or disapproval, e.g., clique - group, magic - witchcraft (вітер - вітрюга; козак - козаченько).

A fourth type of connotation is the i n t e n s i f y i n g connotation (also expressive, emphatic). Thus, magnificent, splendid, superb (вітер - вітерець - вітрище - вітрюга) are all used colloquially as terms of exaggeration.

Words may be monosemantic or polysemantic. Monosemantic words are sometimes represented by a whole lexico-grammatical class, as it is in case of all pronouns, numerals, conjunctions and various nomenclature words (terms). E.g.: we, she, nobody, ten, thirty, and, or, atom, oxygen, sugar, today; він, вони, десять, перший, і/та, чи, кисень, цукор, сьогодні, торік, etc.

The semantic structure of the bulk of English polysemantic nouns, e.g., is richer than that of the Ukrainian nouns. Thus, the English noun boat can mean човен, судно/корабель, шлюпка; the noun coat in English can mean верхній одяг, пальто, піджак, кітель, хутро (тварин), захисний шар фарби на предметі. Ukrainian words may sometimes have a complicated semantic structure as well. E.g., the noun подорож may mean cruise, journey, travel, trip, tour, voyage; or the word ще may mean still, yet, as yet, more, any more, again, else, but.

2. Semantic Change in English and Ukrainian

The meaning of the word does not remain stable. Different changes of word meaning can be classified according to the social causes that bring about change of meaning (socio-linguistic classification), the nature of these changes (psychological classification), and the results of semantic changes (logical classification). Causes, nature and results of semantic changes should be viewed as three essentially different but inseparable aspects of one and the same linguistic phenomenon as any change of meaning may be investigated from the point of view of its cause, nature and its consequences (results).

2.1 The socio-linguistic classification of semantic change

english ukrainian word semantic

The causes of semantic changes may be subdivided into two groups: a) extra-linguistic and b) linguistic.

E x t r a - l i n g u i s t i c causes of semantic changes are:

1) changes in social life of a community, resulting in the appearance of new words, e.g., sputnik, lunokhod, computer, space-ship; cosmodrome, glasnost, perestroika, Rukh movement, hryvnia,, Rada (the Verkhovna Rada), salo and others. Comparatively new borrowings from the English language in present-day Ukrainian are комп 'ютер, дисплей, дискета, касета, менеджмент, маркетинг, бартер, імпічмент, інтернет, кліп, сканер, серфінг, валнеологія, ґрант, офшорний, провайдер, траст, пабліситі, тренінг, фрістайл, боді шейпінґ, пауерліфтинґ, фітнес, кікбоксинґ, плеймейкер, топ-шоу, памперси, блюз, рекет, офіс/офісний, ретро, сервіс, аудит, стільниковий зв'язок, мобільний телефон, і-мейл, гамбургер, чізбурґер (frоm English), піцца (from Italian), бістру/бистру (from French) and several others.

2) Changes of things the names of which are retained, e.g., the word car from Latin “carrus” which meant “a four-wheeled wagon”, but now it denotes “a motor-car”, “a railway carriage”. Cf. зелені (амер. долари), телек (телевізор), шкура (шкіряна куртка), Бушові стегенця (стегенця американських бройлерів), кравчучка (вертикальний/легенький двоколісний візок), кучмовоз (більший і міцніший двоколісний вертикальний візок типу тачки), попса (американські чи інші естрадні пісні низької якості), стречі (вузькі дівчачі штани), капрі (дівочі штани-кльош із розрізом унизу), фритюр (смажіння), мондіаль (світовий чемпіонат), вісаж (косметичний і художній догляд за обличчям).

Linguistic causes, i.e. factors acting within the language system, may be of paradigmatic and syntagmatic character. The commonest form of the syntagmatic semantic changes depending on the context is ellipsis. In a phrase made up of two words one of these is omitted and its meaning is transferred to its partner, e.g., the verb to starve had the meaning “to die” and was used with the word “hunger” (ME “sterven of hunger”). Already in the 16th century the verb itself acquired the meaning “to die of hunger”. Similarly, propose instead of propose marriage, be expecting instead of be expecting a baby, a weekly (newspaper), a monthly (magazine), a stereo (receiver). An example of linguistic cause of paradigmatic character is discrimination of synonyms. It is a gradual change observed in the course of language history. E.g., the words time and tide used to be synonyms, then tide was applied to the shifting waters and time is used in the general sense.

2.2 The psychological classification of semantic change

A necessary condition of any semantic change, no matter what its cause, is some condition between the old meaning and the new. There are two kinds of this connection: a) similarity of meaning, and b) contiguity of meaning.

Similarity of meaning, or metaphor, may be described as a semantic process of associating two things, one of which in some way resembles the other. Thus, a metaphor is a transfer of name based on the association of similarity; it is actually a hidden comparison. E.g., a woman may be called a peach, a lemon, a cat, a goose, a lioness, голубка, гусеня, киця, etc. Metaphors may be based upon very different types of similarity. E.g., the similarity of shape: the head of a cabbage, the teeth of a saw, мереживо березових віток, росинка радості; similarity of function or use: the Head of the school (of an army, of a procession, of a household), the key to a mystery, голова зборів, голова правління; similarity of position: foot of a mountain, foot of a page; similarity of duration of time and space: long distance - long speech, a short path - a short time. In the Ukrainian language there is a noun човник (diminutive form of човен). Later by the similarity of the exterior form the word човник started to be used for naming the part of the loom and further by the similarity of functions this word started to name the part of a sewing machine. Other examples: солодкий сон, хмара плаче, вітер віє, осінь жовтокоса, срібний голос, радіє земля, йде весна, тепла зустріч, м'який характер.

Contiguity of meaning, or metonymy, may be described as a semantic process of associating two things one of which makes part of the other or is closely connected with it. Thus, a metonymy is a transfer of name based on substituting the part for the whole. The transfer may be conditioned by different relations between the primary and secondary meaning, such as spatial, temporal, causal, symbolic, instrumental, functional and others. Spatial relations, e.g., are present when the name of the place is used for the people occupying it: the bar (the lawyers), the town (inhabitants), the House (the members of the House of Lords or Commons). Аудиторія, клас mean not only the premise, but also people. The meaning appears metonymical when the dishes are named in the meaning of the substance contained, e.g., з'їв миску борщу, розлив відро. The thing may be named after material it is made of, e.g., папір means “the material and the documents”. Instrumental relations are obvious when the instrument for the agent is used instead of the agent: the best pens of the day (the best modern writers), hand (handwriting). The functional relations between the primary and secondary meanings appear in the result of the functional transfer of the name from one subject to another, e.g., воротар first meant “the guardian of the gate” and later “the person who defended gates in football”.

The simplest case of metonymy is synecdoche by which we mean giving the part for the whole or vise versa, e.g., ABC (alphabet), man (humanity), the squirrel, the tiger (a whole for a part); Makintosh, Pulman, Sandwich (the name of the inventor for the thing invented).

There are other types of semantic change, besides metaphor and metonymy.

Hyperbole (from Gr. hyperbole “exceed”) is an exaggerated statement not meant to be understood literally but expressing emotional attitude of the speaker to what he is speaking about. E.g., I haven't seen you for ages! It's absolutely maddening. "He was so tall that I was not sure he had a face". (O.Henry)

The reverse figure is called litotes (from Gr. litos “plain”). It expresses a desire to conceal or suppress one's feelings, and to seem indifferent and calm.

E.g., But this is frightful! - Certainly somewhat disturbing.

It is a good thing. - It's not a bad thing.

2.3 The logical classification of semantic change

They can be generally observed in the changes of the denotative meaning of the word (restriction and extension of meaning) or in the changes of its connotative component (amelioration and pejoration of meaning).

Restriction of meaning is a process when a word of wide meaning acquires a narrower sense in which it only denotes some of the objects which it previously denoted. E.g., meat originally meant food and drink in general, now - edible flesh; fowl meant “any bird”, now - “a domestic hen or cook”. The word wit meaning "the faculty of thinking good or great mental capacity" was reflected by borrowed word "reason" and now means "the utterance of brilliant or sparkling things in an amusing way". The old Slavonic word билина denoted the name of the plant. In modern Ukrainian it means only "стеблина трави, травинка".

If the word with the new meaning is used in the specialized vocabulary of some professional group we speak of specialization of meaning, e.g., to glide meant “to move gently smoothly”, now - “to fly with no engine”.

Extension of meaning is the application of the word to a wider variety of referents, e.g., target meant “a small round shield”, now - “anything that is fired at”; pirate meant “one who robs on the sea”, now - “any one who robs with violence”. If the word with the extended meaning passes from the specialized vocabulary into common use, we describe the result of the semantic change as the generalization of meaning, e.g., barn meant “a place for storing barley”, now - “a covered building for storing grain”; pioneer - soldier, now - “one who goes before”; the meaning of the word vehicle that meant "a trolley" spread on all the means of transport. The word столяр first meant only “the man who made tables” and then started to mean “a specialist in processing wood and manufacturing things from it”. Words капрон, кібернетика passed from the category of specialized words to the sphere of general usage. The word акуратист first was used in the meaning of "carefully processed" (from Latin "accuratus" - "careful"). In Modern Ukrainian it is spread in the meanings of "carefully made", “the one that is kept in order”. To the typical phenomenon of the extension of meaning refer proper names that started to function in the language as the general names, e.g., донжуан, ловелас, меценат.

Amelioration is a process when words arise from humble beginnings to position of greater importance. Many words have been elevated in meaning through the association with the ruling class, e.g., “knight” meant “a young servant”, now - “a man who fought for his feudal”; “minister” meant “a servant”, now - “an important public official”. In Ukrainian such words as офіс, менеджмент, кур'єр are more prestige than контора, управління чи посильний.

Pejoration, or degradation of meaning is a process that involves a lowering in social scale, the acquisition by the word of some derogatory emotive charge. E.g., knave first meant “boy”, then “servant”, now it's a term of abuse and scorn: villain meant “farm servant”, now - “scoundrel”. The pejorated meanings are proper to the words that mean the names of diseases, bad habits, social evils, injustice etc.

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