The Structure of the Lexical Meaning

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There are a lot of definitions of the lexical meaning. In our country the definition given by V.V. Vinogradov is commonly used: it is his subject – real content, decorated according to the laws of grammar of the language, and being part of the common vocabulary of the semantic system of the language.
As for the structure of the lexical meaning, most of the scholars differentiate denotational and connotational (pragmatic) components. But some scholars distinguish connotative and pragmatic meanings.
Different scholars distinguish different components of this structure. Almost all of them use significative and denotative components. Arnold distinguishes also connotational meaning. According to Nikitin it should be distinguished implicational and semiotic meanings. The last include ...


Introduction 3
The main text 4
1. The definition of the lexical meaning 4
2. The structure of the lexical meaning 5
Conclusions 12
References 13


Language is primarily a means of communication, the most important means of communication. This is why the main category of linguistics is meaning.
In the lexicology exists a special branch which is called semasiology. It studies word meaning and semantic relations between words. The major fields of study of semasiology are:
 the word meaning, its structure and components (lexical and grammatical meaning);
 meaning change, development of meanings, the nature of polysemy;
 semantic relations between words: synonymy, antonymy, hyponymy-hyperonymy, holonymy-meronymy, etc.
There are a lot of difficulties in defining the word meaning. It is unfortunate, however, that the term 'meaning' turns out to be elusive and is used to cover a variety of linguistic and extralinguistic aspects. This is t he reason why there is no general agreement either about what meaning is or about the way in which it should be described.
The word meaning is not homogeneous, but it consists of several components, which are considered as types of meaning. The scholars distinguish 2 types of meaning to be found in words and word forms:
 the grammatical (categorial) meaning;
 the lexical (material) meaning.
In this essay, the lexical meaning of a word is discussed.

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Connotative meanings are to some extent a social phenomenon. They are developed by the community. The connotation of the name can be compared with the attribute or attributes which could be used to describe the name. The denotation of the name is any object to which the name applies. For example, the word city connotes the attributes of largeness, populousness. It denotes individual objects such as London, New York, Paris.
Some scholars distinguish connotative and pragmatic meanings. They define the pragmatic meaning as the part of lexical meaning that conveys information on the situation of communication. This information can include:
the ‘time and space’ relationship of the participants. For example, the words come and go can indicate the location of the speaker who is usually taken asthe zero point in the description of the situation of communication.
In this case the time element is fixed indirectly. Indirect reference to time implies that the frequency of occurrence of words may change with time and in extreme cases words may be out of use or become obsolete. Thus, the word behold – ‘take notice, see (smth. unusual)’ as well as the noun beholder – ‘spectator’ are out of use now but were widely used in the 17th century.
the participants and the given language community. The language may indicate the social status of a person, his education, profession, etc. The pragmatic aspect of the word also may convey information about the social system of the given language community, its ideology, religion, system of norms and customs.
the tenor of discourse. They may reflect how the addresser interacts with the addressee. Tenors are based on social or family role of the participants of communication.
the register of communication. The register defines the general type of the situation of communication grading the situations in formality (Беляева, эл.).
Three main types of the situations of communication are usually singled out: formal, neutral and informal. Thus, the pragmatic aspect of meaning refers words like cordial, fraternal, anticipate, aid to formal register while units like cut it out, to be kidding, stuff, hi are to be used in the informal register.
One more variant of the structure of the lexical meaning is offered by M.V. Nikitin. First of all he distinguishes the implicational and semiotic components of the lexical meaning.
Implicational meaning is based on a natural linkage of objects in reality. In this case the two things, events or phenomena are combined in the consciousness by means of implicational dependency, reflecting their natural (natural) connection in reality. Thus implicational meaning is characterized by cultural and territorial bounds (Никитин, 1983, 24). For example:
Summer – hot, green, sunny – associations connected with a name.
The author distinguishes four types of implicational meaning:
rigid implication (жесткий имплекционал), which includes highly probable features of summer (for Russia – жара, солнце)
strong implication, which includes probable features of summer (засуха, дожди)
weak implication which includes unlikely features of summer – листопад;
negative implication which includes features that can never be applied to this referent (снег, мороз).
In the case of semiotic meaning the two things, events or phenomena are combined in the consciousness by means of arbitrary and conventional link, especially established for the sake of communication. Thus, the link between the sign and the referent do not exist in reality (Никитин, 2007, с. 27-28). For example:
summer (June – August); cat.
Semiotic meaning according to M.V. Nikitin includes pragmatic and cognitive meanings.
Pragmatic component presents our subjunctive attitude towards the world and its elements (depends on our life experience). This valuation is represented in oppositions: good – bad; interesting – indifferent – not interesting; beautiful – ugly etc. (Никитин, 2007, с. 28).
Cognitive meaning represents the information about the world (the referent).
Pragmatic and cognitive meanings or only one of them is represented in the structure of lexical meaning:
words can be pragmatically neutral so only cognitive component in the structure of their meaning exist:
Ex: table, window, door – they are free from expressing subjunctive attitude to the referent;
“fascist” – cognitive and pragmatic components are included;
sometimes cognitive components are switched off and pragmatic component plays the leading role (Никитин, 2007, с. 28-29).
The author the following example:
старик, старец и старикашка
These three words are differentiates by there pragmatic meanings: neutral valuation in the first case, positive in the second and negative in the third. As for cognitive component in the word cтарик, it is common for all three words – мысль (понятие) о старом мужчине; старец includes also благочестивую, благообразную старость, старикашка includes meaning старик малозначительный, никчемный (Никитин, 2007, с. 29).
In its turn the cognitive meaning includes extensional and contentional meanings. The difference between extension and contention lies in the difference between the contents and the volume of the notion.
Contentional meaning reflects the structure of essential features of the notion.
Extension: a number of denotater to which its name refers: godfather, biological father, father-in-law.
Both components are variable. Some names of properties (признаковые слова) (verbs, adjectives, adverbs) – don’t have the extensional meaning, because they are non-referential (Никитин, 2007, с. 30).
Contention has denotative and significative components.
If a name represents a representative of a class so it has a denotative meaning.
If it represents the class in general it has significative meaning.
Proper names can represent only a representative of a class. They can’t represent a the class in general. They have no intentional. They have only denotative meaning.
This structure of the lexical meaning may be presented as a following scheme (look Pic.1)
Pic.1. The structure of the lexical meaning
This typology is structurally and logically consistent. It resolves the problem of distinguishing denotative and significative meanings, their relationship within the meaning of the word, and creates a strong foundation for the distinction of object vocabulary, that can be employed a denotative and a significative meaning, and indicative vocabulary or signifying having only significative meaning (verbs, adjectives , etc.).
According to Academician V.V. Vinogradov lexical meaning comprises the following types of meanings:
nominative which refers to objects of extralinguistic reality in a direst way. E.g. “a head”

Список литературы

1. Арнольд И.В. Лексикология современного английского языка: Учеб. для ин-тов и фак. иностр. яз. — 3-е изд., перераб. и доп. — М.: Высш. шк., 1986. — 295 е.
2. Беляева Е.П. Курс лекций по лексикологии. Электронный ресурс. Режим доступа: http://gendocs.ru/v5928/лекции_на_английском_языке_-_лексикологияlexicology_беляева_е.п (дата обращения 15.02.2014)
3. Виноградов В.В. Основные типы лексических значений слова // Виноградов В. В. Избранные труды. Лексикология и лексикография. – М., 1977. – С.162-189.
4. Лексикология английского языка: Учебник для ин-тов и фак. иностр. яз. / Р.3. Гинзбург, С.С. Хидекель, Г.Ю. Князева и А.А. Санкин. – 2-е изд., испр. и доп. – М.: Высш. школа, 1979. – 269 с.
5. Минаева Л.В. Лексикология и лексикография английского языка / English. Lexicology and Lexicogfaphy.– М.: АСТ, Астрель, 2007. – 142 с.
6. Никитин М.В. Лексическое значение слова (структура и комбинаторика). – М.: Высшая школа, 1983. – 127 с.
7. Никитин М.В. Курс лингвистической семантики. – СПб.: Изд-во РГПУ им. А.И. Герцена, 2007. – 819 с.
8. Crystal D. English vocabulary. The Structure of the Lexicon: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language / David Crystal. – Cambridge University Press, 1995. – 490 p.
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