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The first concepts

Symbol: sth which we use to represent another thing (a picture, a letter, a spoken or a written word)


Referent: The thing identified by the symbol (a

dog, freedom, unicorns)

Words Things [Plato 427-347 BC] Words Concepts Things

[C.K.Odgen & I.A.Richards 1923]


S s.....r R Triangle


Words name or refer to things Problem:

There must be existing referent in the physical world. It will be less clear when applied to abstraction, verbs, adjectives.


There is no direct connection of symbol and referent, but an indirect connection in our minds. For each word there is a related concept.

What this concept is - How it can exist apart from the word concept is independent of particular language symbols. concepts before the words: hovercraft, Internet. symbols change, concepts remain (radio [wireless], Hoover [vacumm cleaner]

S s.....r R

A stimulus (S) leads to someone to a response (r), which is a speech act. To the hearer the speech act is also a stimulus (s), which leads to a response (R), which may be an action of understanding. e.g. Jill is hungry and Jack
bring her an apple.

Jack doesnt bring the apple because of a quarrel years before. Jack brings several apples and a glass of beer.

Ogden & Richards' triangle


/ Categorization


/ \ LANGUAGE - - - - - - - - - - - WORLD

Ogden and Richards



The denotation of a word is its meaning in the narrowest logical and semantic sense: what a word denotes is what it refers to. E.g.: the denotation of the word winter corresponds to the season between autumn and spring (no matter whether it is cold or snowing).


A word can have multiple denotations. For example, the dictionary lists more than 20 distinct meanings for the word low. As a result, you can say, "A low wall bordered the field," and you can also say, "John was feeling low today." The same word, used in two different contexts, may have MANY distinctly different meanings



Denotation is the strict dictionary meaning of a word. [what it refers to] Connotation is the emotional and imaginative association surrounding a word. A words connotation is not what it refers to, but what it evokes. (positive, neutral, negative)

Denotations vs. connotation


The belief systems of sub-groups. connotation for a particular person in the light of particular experience. connotation that develop within a text. part of sense/ meaning


America Home Love

Give some words you can think of when you think about

full of love and sharing

a happy end

a life-long commitment

A relationship of two independent individuals, who enter marriage as equals.

having hard work and losing freedom






recent origin

better, improved

snake adequate

round reptile good enough


horrible beast not very good

weak reason

Does connotative meaning reflect

Social Racial stereotypes?


Connotation represents the various social overtones, cultural implications, or emotional meanings associated with a sign. Denotation represents the explicit or referential meaning of a sign. Denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word, the dictionary definition. Words have both denotations (literal meanings) and connotations (suggestive meanings).

Have a swan song

Product of context

Denotation or connotation? Or both?

Connotation is often a product of context. Depending on how it is used, a word might have a positive, neutral, or negative connotation to it. The pastor preached yesterday. (neutral connotation) Joe preached at me about book buying. (negative connotation.) This place is crawling with bugs! (negative connotation.) Fred is as cute as a bug. (positive connotation)

Denotation is also often a product of context. Sally, please put on a Beethoven record. put on a Beethoven T-shirt. put on Junior's tennis shoes. put on your perfume. put on a smile. put on few airs. put on the dinner plates. put on Harry. put on the television.


house compare

home - living accommodation childlike - childish - juvenile girl - woman - lady - chick - bird child - kid - youngster boss - superior - manager - supervisor adult - grown up naked - nude single girl - unmarried woman - spinster boyfriend - steady guy - male companion taste - flavor cheap - inexpensive rich - wealthy - loaded

Sense and Reference

Sense and reference are two aspects of denotation. A words reference is the set of things in the real world that it can be used to refer to; a words sense is the property or characteristic it describes. Reference tree (lexical item) has reference

Sense and Reference

a. Sue is looking for a dog; I hope she finds it. Its name is Fido. b. Sue is looking for a dog; I hope she finds one. She hasnt decided yet whether she wants a retriever or a spaniel. In (a), the word dog is being used for its reference; a dog in this sentence refers to a particular actual dog. In (b), dog is being used for its sense; a dog means anything that has the property of doghood rather than any specific dog.

sense vs. reference

The sense of a word is its meaning in terms of the rest of the language. Its reference is the entity or experience in the nonlinguistic world to which it relates in a particular utterance.

Compare: There is a tree in my garden.

I am thinking of planting a tree in my garden


variable reference. constant reference one referent. no reference. many senses


The reference of an expression vary according to

(a) circumstances (time, place, etc.), in which the expression is used. (b) the topic of the conversation in which the expression is used. The present Prime Minister has variable reference (1982, 1944) >< constant reference (the moon, The Peoples Republic of China, Angola, Halleys Comet, etc.)


Give an example of an expression that could have variable


Give an example of an expression that always (in normal everyday conversation) has

constant reference

Give an example of different expressions having

one referent.

Give an example of an expression that has

no reference.

Give an example of an expression that has

many senses


Denotation Connotation Structural meaning Categorial meaning

structural meaning

Collocative Associative Thematic


Collocation refers to the restrictions on how words can be used together, for example which prepositions are used with particular verbs, or which verbs and nouns are used together. Collocations should not be confused with idioms.

False teeth Fake cook Imitative jewellery Sour milk Stale bread



Categorial meaning

Verbs, Nouns, Adjectives, etc.



grammatical meaning

want wanted happy happier book books select selection go gone love hate

Different in what?