2.

Semantics

the study of MEANING. There are many different approaches to the way in which meaning in language is studied. Philosophers, for instance, have investigated the relation between linguistic expressions, such as the words of a language, and persons, things and events in the world to which these words refer (see REFERENCE, SIGNS). Linguistics have investigated, for example, the way in which meaning in a language is structured (see COMPONENTIAL ANALYSIS, LEXICAL FIELD, SEMANTIC FEATURES) and have distinguished between different types of meanings (see CONNOTATION, DENOTATION). There have also been studies of the semantic structure of sentences (see PROPOSITIONS). In recent years, linguistics have generally agreed that meaning plays an important part in grammatical analysis but there has been disagreement on how it should be incorporated in a grammar (see BASE COMPONENT, GENERATIVE SEMANTICS, INTERPRETIVE SEMANTICS). Reference (in SEMANTICS) the relationship between words and the things, actions, events, and qualities they stand for. Reference in its wider sense would be the relationship between a word or phrase and an entity in the external world (see DENOTATION). For example, the word tree refers to the object ‘tree’ (the referent). Reference in its narrower sense is the relationship between a word or phrase and a specific object, e.g. a particular tree or a particular animal. Foe example, Peter’s horse would refer to a horse which is owned, ridden by, or in some way associated with Peter. Denotation that part of the meaning of a word or phrase that relates it to phenomena in the real world or in a fictional or possible world. For example, the denotation of the English word bird is a two-legged, winged, egglaying, warm-blooded creature with a beak. In a meaning system, denotative meaning may be regarded as the “central” meaning or “core” meaning of a lexical item. It is often equated with referential meaning (see REFERENCE) and with

for instance. or age...g. the words and other expressions of a language which signify. that part of the meaning which is covered by connotation is sometimes referred to as affective meaning.g. mischievous.. Signs in linguistics. stands for a particular piece of furniture in the real world.. amusing. Some linguists and philosophers include a third item in the process of signification. affectionate. that is.: abstract concept of table word (sign) table . In English. e. For example. In a meaning system. grubby..real object “table” Concept the general idea or meaning which is associated with a word or symbol in a person’s mind. irritating.. or emotive meaning. lovable. child could be defined as a young human being but there are many other characteristics which different people associate with child. Concepts are the abstract meanings which words and other linguistic items represent. noisy. “stand for”. sex... others may be restricted to one or several individuals and depend on their personal experience.. Linguists believe all languages can express the same ... sweet. e. These meanings show people’s emotions and attitudes towards what the word or phrase refers to. the word table.. that is.. Some connotations may be shared by a group of people of the same cultural or social background. Connotation the additional meanings that a word or phrase has beyond its central meaning (see DENOTATION). an abstract CONCEPT of the thing for which the sign stands.cognitive meaning and conceptual meaning although some linguists and philosophers make a distinction between these concepts. other things.

and of a second or . although some languages may have fewer names for some concepts than are found in other languages. and the use of concepts to form PROPOSITIONS is basic to human thought and communication. Children are said to “acquire” the rules of their mother tongue by being exposed to examples of the language and by using the language for communication. children are born with special language learning abilities b. novel sentences). they learn language by being exposed to it d. how children distinguish and develop word meanings c. linguistic rules develop unconsciously. Early work in first language acquisition concentrated on how children develop a linguistic system which enables them to produce sentences that they have never heard before (i. The forming of concepts is closely related to language ACQUISITION. and pass through similar stages in language development. Language acquisition the learning and development of a person’s language. the development of phonology in the first language d. who argued that: a. The learning of a native or first language is called FIRST LANGUAGE ACQUISITION. the effects of interaction (between parents and the child and between a child and other children) on language development (see INTERACTIONISM) Some researchers have suggested that children show evidence of the use of universal rules and principles in language acquisition. the relationship between language development and cognitive development b. First language acquisition the learning and development of a person’s native language.e. or may distinguish between concepts differently.concepts. More recent research has studied: a. which are independent of the particular language they are learning. they do not have to be taught language or corrected for their mistakes c. Interest in the process by which children learn their first language was prompted by the work of Chomsky.

. and focus on the study of the development of phonology. LINGUISTICS and SEMANTICS) the basic meaning which a sentence expresses. These processes are often investigated with the expectation that information about them may be useful in language teaching. analysis of the spoken and written discourse of second and foreign language learners (see DISCOURSE ANALYSIS) c. Proposition (in philosophy. longitudinal studies and case studies of the development of syntax and phonology in second and foreign language learners (see CROSSSECTIONAL METHOD. The term “acquisition” is often preferred to “learning” because the latter term is sometimes linked to a behaviourist theory of learning (see BEHAVIOURISM). or entity) (b) as assertion or predication which is made about the argument. Propositions consist of (a) something which is named or talked about (known as the argument. The friend’s name is Tony.foreign language. Second language acquisition (in APPLIED LINGUISTICS) the process by which people develop proficiency in a second or foreign language. Techniques used include longitudinal studies of language learners as well as experimental approaches. the study of other aspects of language development. to help identify stages in the developmental process. psychologists and applied linguists to enable them to understand the processes used in learning a language. who is a dentist. SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION. and communicative competence. Tony. and to give a better understanding of the nature of language. A sentence may express or imply (see PRESUPPOSITION) more than one proposition. grammar. The term “second language acquisition” has been used particularly in the USA by researchers interested in: a. Tony is a dentist. vocabulary. likes apples. For example: sentence Maria’s friend. Language acquisition is studied by linguists. underlying propositions Maria has a friend. CASE STUDY) b.

a warning. e. such as request. There are many different kinds of speech acts. In language teaching. B’s reply in: . a promise). This is the effect the utterance or written text has on the reader or listener. Utterance (in DISCOURSE) what is said by any one person before or after another person begins to speak. such as the speech act of requesting above. Indirect speech acts are often felt to be more polite ways of performing certain kinds of speech act.g. A speech act is a sentence or utterance which has both propositional meaning and illocutionary force. The illocutionary force is the effect the speaker wants the utterance to have on the listener. It may be intended as a request for something to drink. e. the use made of the sentence in communication. an utterance may consist of: a. FUNCTIONAL SYLLABUS). one word. Speech act an UTTERANCE as a functional unit in communication. illocutionary meaning (also known as illocutionary force). in I am thirsty the prepositional meaning is what the utterance says about the speaker’s physical state.e.g. and its illocutionary force (i. In speech act theory. For example. A speech act which is performed indirectly is sometimes known as an indirect speech act. complaints. such as requests and refusals. orders. speech acts are often referred to as “functions” or “language functions” (see NOTIONAL SYLLABUS. commands. b. promises (see SPEECH ACT CLASSIFICATION). For example. utterances have two kinds of meaning: a. as a request.Tony likes apples. and SYLLABUS design. In SPEECH ACT theory a distinction is made between the propositional meaning of a sentence. propositional meaning (also known as locutionary meaning). This is the basic literal meaning of the utterance which is conveyed by the particular words and structures which the utterance contains (see PROPOSITION. LOCUTIONARY ACT).

c.g. one sentence. I’ve told you several times to wash your hands before a meal.g.A: Have you done your homework? B: Yeah. etc. more than one sentence. saying the sentence Shoot the snake is a locutionary act if hearers understand the words shoot. (threat) I’ll take you to the movies tomorrow. commands. commissive: a speech act that commits the speaker to doing something in the future. For example Shoot the snake may be intended as an order or a piece of advice. e. An illocutionary act is using a sentence to perform a function. For example. such as a promise or a threat. A’s question and B’s answer in: A: What’s the time? B: It’s half past five. Austin’s three-part distinction is less frequently used than a two-part distinction between the propositional content of a sentence (the PROPOSITION(S) which a sentence expresses or implies) and the illocutionary force or intended effects of speech acts (their function as requests. listen… Locutionary act A distinction is made by Austin in the theory of SPEECH ACTS between three different types of act involved in or caused by the utterance of a sentence. Speech act classification The philosopher Searle established a five-part classification of SPEECH ACTS: a.). orders. snake and can identify the particular snake referred to. e. For example: If you don’t stop fighting I’ll call the police. A’s complaint in: A: Look. A perlocutionary act is the result or effects that are produced by means of saying something. Why don’t you do as you’re told? B: But Mum. the. A locutionary act is the saying of something which is meaningful and can be understood. For example. I’m really fed up. (promise) . b. shooting the snake would be a perlocutionary act.

to congratulate someone. Signs. Connotation is the additional meaning that a word or phrase has beyond its central meaning. For example. What is second language acquisition? . Reference is (in SEMANTICS) the relationship between words and the things. that is. What is first language acquisition? 3. a request. e. in linguistics. Why don’t you close the window. the assertion: This is a German car. actions. events. expressive: a speech act in which the speaker expresses feelings and attitudes about something. For example: Please sit down. declarative: a speech act which changes the state of affairs in the world. such as an assertion. For example. other things.b. a claim. a report. A concept is the general idea or meaning which is associated with a word or symbol in a person’s mind. Questions 1. are the words and other expressions of a language which signify. What is language acquisition? 2. or a command. during the wedding ceremony the act of marriage is performed when the phrase I now pronounce you man and wife is uttered. For example: The meal was delicious. Denotation is that part of the meaning of a word or phrase that relates it to phenomena in the real world or in a fictional or possible world. Highlights Semantics is the study of MEANING. representative: a speech act which describes states or events in the world. such as a suggestion. and qualities they stand for. a complaint. such as an apology. “stand for”. c. directive: a speech act that has the function of getting the listener to do something. to thank someone. d.

What is a proposition? 5. What is the five-part classification of speech acts? . What is an utterance? 7. What is a locutionary act? 8.4. What is a speech act? 6.

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