mentalistic approach to meaning treating it only as a concept expressed by a word oversimplifies the problem because it takes into consideration only the referential function of words. Actually, however, allthe pragmatic functions of language — communicative, emotive, evaluative, phatic, esthetic, etc., arealso relevant and have to be accounted for in semasiology, because they show the attitude of the speaker to the thing spoken of, to his interlocutor and to the situation in which the act of communication takes place.The complexity of the word meaning is manifold. The four most important types of semanticcomplexity may be roughly described as follows:
Note how this epigram makes use of the polysemy of the word meaning
Firstly, every word combines lexical and grammatical meanings. E.g.:
is a personal noun.Secondly, many words not only refer to some object but have an aura of associations expressing theattitude of the speaker. They have not only denotative but connotative meaning as well.E. g.:
is a colloquial term of endearment.Thirdly, the denotational meaning is segmented into semantic components or semes.E.g.:
is a male parent.Fourthly, a word may be polysemantic, that is it may have several meanings, all interconnected andforming its semantic structure.E. g.:
may mean: ‘male parent’, ‘an ancestor’, ‘a founder or leader’, ‘a priest’.It will be useful to remind the reader that the grammatical meaning is defined as anexpression in speech of relationships between words based on contrastive features of arrangements inwhich they occur. The grammatical meaning is more abstract and more generalised than the lexicalmeaning, it unites words into big groups such as parts of speech or lexico-grammatical classes. It isrecurrent in identical sets of individual forms of different words. E. g.
parents, books, intentions,
whosecommon element is the grammatical meaning of plurality. The interrelation of lexics and grammar hasalready been touched upon in § 1.3. This being a book on lexicology and not on grammar, it is permissible not to go into more details though some words on lexico-grammatical meanings arenecessary.The lexiсo-grammatical meaning is the common denominator of all the meanings of words belonging to a lexico-grammatical class of words, it is the feature according to which they aregrouped together. Words in which abstraction and generalisation are so great that they can be lexicalrepresentatives of lexico-grammatical meanings and substitute any word of their class are calledgeneric terms. For example the word
is a generic term for material nouns, the word
— for collective nouns, the word
— for personal nouns.Words belonging to one lexico-grammatical class are characterised by a common system of forms inwhich the grammatical categories inherent in them are expressed. They are also substituted by the same prop-words and possess some characteristic formulas of semantic and morphological structure and acharacteristic set of derivational affixes. See tables on word-formation in: R. Quirk et al., “A Grammar of Contemporary English”.
The common features of semantic structure may be observed in their dictionarydefinitions:
Quirk R., Greenbaum S., Leech G., Svartvik J.
A Grammar of Contemporary English. London, 1974.
— a group of persons in charge of some enterprise,
— a group of singers,
— a group of persons acting together in work or in a game.The degree and character of abstraction and generalisation in lexico-grammatical meanings and thegeneric terms that represent them are intermediate between those characteristic of grammatical categoriesand those observed on the lexical level — hence the term lexico-grammatical.The conceptual content of a word is expressed in its denotative meaning.
To denote is toserve as a linguistic expression for a concept or as a name for an individual object. The denotativemeaning may be signifiсative, if the referent is a concept, or demоfistrative, if it is an individualobject. The term referent or denotatum (pl.
is used in both cases. Any text willfurnish examples of both types of denotative meaning. The demonstrative meaning is especiallycharacteristic of colloquial speech where words so often serve to identify particular elements of reality. E.