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Lecture 5

MEANING

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sign and system are mutually conditioning. Models of the linguistic sign I. Saussure’s approach -language is a system of signs. -the linguistic sign itself has two sides: a given notion (concept) that is associated in the brain with a certain phonic image (acoustic image). -the linguistic sign is binary. -meaning (content) = a concept and therefore a mental entity. since it consists of two parts. 2 . since a sign only derives its value from within the system on the basis of its relation to other signs.

Ogden and Richards’ ‘Semiotic Triangle’ THOUGHT (‘reference’) SYMBOL (‘word’) (‘thing’) REFERENT Figure 2.II. Ogden and Richards’ ‘triangle of signification’ 3 .

----------. concept flower sign -----------. -------------- acoustic FLOWER FLOWER image 4 .

affective m. quoted in Lipka. thematic meaning. conceptual meaning (sense) MEANING = a.Geoffrey Leech (1981) (quoted in Lipka. thematic meaning Figure 3. connotative m. associative meaning b. namely descriptive meaning. these are correlated with the descriptive. sense 2. communicative 2. -John Lyons (1977. For him. The second category may itself be further divided into a number of subgroups. 1990:46) distinguishes three kinds of meaning. Leech's classification of meaning 5 . 1990:46) identifies meaning in the widest sense with communicative value. . This comprehensive notion can be split up into three groups: 1. stylistic m. collocative m. d.THE MEANING OF SIGNS -Ogden and Richards' book entitled The Meaning of Meaning (published in 1949) where a list of 22 definitions of meaning is given. social and expressive functions of language. e. reflected m. 3. social meaning and expressive meaning. associative meaning and 3. as shown in the following diagram: 1. value c.

Get down to work! (treabă. (trebăluială) d. (operă) 6 .. b. He gets good money for his work. (lucru) f. WORK = muncă.e. organised lexical – phonetical – grammatical structures expressing our thoughts and feelings. A woman’s work is never done. they are connected and interconnected within the framework of sentences. efort fizic a. What sort of work do you do? e. Is he at home or at work? (serviciu) g. i. a new combination of words would exercise and spread an influence over the neighbouring words.strict linguistic sense →a determiner. Shakespeare’s work is known all over the world. (muncă) c. concrete situations.general sense→ extralinguistic factors such as gestures. passage or paragraph. the social background of the speaker. Words are not isolated in human speech. Context: . etc. lucru) h. His work is strenuous. . phrase. He went out to look for work. sentence.CAUSES OF CHANGING OF MEANING a) The influence of context: irrespective of its length. which is so closely connected to a word as to affect its meaning.

au`gust (adj) `minute vs. stress will differentiate -verbs from nouns. as in: im`port (vb) vs. 7 . `import (n) re`bel vs. mis`conduct pro`ject vs.b) Stress By placing stress on different syllables of identical strings of sounds we can get different meanings of words belonging to different word classes. as in: `August (n) vs. `project -nouns from adjectives. mi`nute. Thus. `rebel miscon`duct vs.

TO GO: to fail.c) The process of passing from concrete to abstract CONCRETE a.TO GO: to proceed. to depart b. to give way ABSTRACT c. to pass along. to leave. to move.TO GO: to harmonize 8 . to collapse.

any class or group of similar or related things GENERAL 9 .parents and children PARTICULAR -a group of persons connected by blood or marriage -a group of persons forming a household . d) The process of passing from particular to general FAMILY: .

e) Analogy (association) stage I: originally. a word has a certain form (n) and a certain meaning (S): S (sense/meaning) n (name) stage II: in the course of time. the linguistic item acquires a second meaning: S + S1 S S1 n n (polysemous word) (change of meaning) 10 .

widening) of meaning. b) narrowing (specialization). 11 .DIRECTIONS IN WHICH CHANGES OF MEANING OCCUR • Range: a) extension (generalization. • Evaluation: c) elevation (amelioration): d) degradation (pejoration) of meaning.

to escape = ‘to get out of one’s clothing.a) Extension of meaning = the sense may expand to include more referents than it formerly had Contemporary ='belonging to the same time or period’. fashionable. Fee : Anglo-Saxon feoh (‘cattle’)= one of the main means of making payments – fees – such as those to physicians. lawyers. up-to-date. modern. originally meant broad street → a part of space → any locality. 12 . nowadays → to get oneself free from confinement or control’. Place (Latin ‘platea’). etc. to lose one’s cape while fleeing’.

b) Narrowing of meaning = the process by which a word of extensive usage is restricted to a special object (it becomes 'specialized'). the Dimbovita (if in Bucharest) . . . nowadays = the place where cars are kept.Garage =‘any safe place’. 13 .River = ‘a large amount of water that flows towards the sea’.Channel = The Channel = the English Channel if used by English people. the River = the Thames (if in London).The referential scope of the word is reduced.

Little ones were called ‘tartlets’. 14 . but both terms now connote a woman of loose morals. poor. • Silly (derived from the German selig or the Anglo-Saxon soelig) = ‘happy.d) Degradation of meaning = the process according to which neutral words acquire deprecatory meaning. and 'wench' just meant 'young woman'. stupid’. at present = ‘foolish. • Villain =‘a peasant’ ←French term 'villein' ← Latin villa. Among the Cockneys in the 1860s it was ‘a term of approval applied to a woman’. • Tart was a term of endearment: the girl was sweet like a jam-tart. Australia = a sweetheart. • Hussy was once a perfectly respectable housewife. innocent’. meaning ‘farm-house’. →‘a slave attached to one’s toiling place’ →a term of contempt and was used in connection with a person who did not belong to the gentry →a low fellow . pejorative meaning around 1900.

• Minister was used initially to refer to a servant. The Old French nice meant ‘foolish/simple’. delightful’. 15 . nowadays it refers to 'man awarded a non- hereditary title (Sir) by a sovereign'. Nowadays the word means ‘agreeable.d) Elevation of meaning = the process by which a word acquires a higher status than it initially had • Knight (Old English ‘cniht’) originally meant ‘boy’. • Nice ise derived from the Latin nescius meaning ‘ignorant’. whereas now it means ‘an important public official’.