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Lecture 2.

A word and its meaning. Change of meaning in the english and ukrainian languages

  1. The semantic structure of English and Ukrainian words.

2. Semantic change in English and Ukrainian.

    1. The socio-linguistic classification of semantic change.

    2. The psychological classification of semantic change.

    3. The logical classification of semantic change.

  1. The semantic structure of English and Ukrainian words

Word-meaning is not homogeneous but is made up of various components, or types of meaning. They are as follows.

The g r a m m a t i c a l meaning is the component of meaning in identical sets of individual forms of different words, as e.g., the tense meaning in the word-forms of verbs (asked, thought walked, etc. or in Ukrainian - їхав, йшов, говорив) or the meaning of plurality (books, intentions, phenomena, столи, вікна, etc.).

The l e x i c o – g r a m m a t i c a l meaning (part-of-speech meaning) is the common meaning of words belonging to a lexico-grammatical class of words, it is the feature according to which they are grouped together. The interrelation of the lexical and the grammatical meaning varies in different word-classes. In some parts of speech the prevailing component is the grammatical type of meaning (e.g., in prepositions), in others – the lexical (e.g., in nouns, verbs, etc.).

The l e x i c a l meaning is the component of meaning proper to the given linguistic unit in all its forms and distributions. E.g., in the forms go, goes, went, gone (читає, читав, читатиме) we find one and the same semantic component denoting the process of movement.

Both the lexical and the grammatical meanings make up the word-meaning as neither can exist without the other.

Lexical meaning is not homogeneous either; it includes denotative and connotative components.

The d e n o t a t i v e component of lexical meaning expresses the conceptual content of a word. Fulfilling the nominative and the communicative functions of the word, it is present in every word and may be regarded as the central factor in the functioning of the language.

The c o n n o t a t i v e component of lexical meaning expresses the pragmatic communicative value the word receives depending on where, when, how, by whom, for what purpose and in what contexts it is used. Unlike the denotative component, the connotative component is optional. There are four main types of connotation. They are stylistic, emotive, evaluative and expressive, or intensifying.

When associations concern the situation in which the word is uttered (formal, familiar, etc.), the social relationships between the interlocutors (polite, rough), the purpose of communication (poetic, official), the connotation is s t y l i s t i c. E.g., parent (bookish) – father (neutral) – dad (colloquial); чоло (poetical) – лоб (neutral) – макітра (low colloquial)

An e m o t i v e connotation is acquired by the word because the referent named in the denotative meaning is associated with emotions. In the synonyms, e.g., large, big, tremendous and like, love, worship (подобатися, любити, обожнювати) the emotive charge of the words tremendous and worship is heavier than that of the other words. Cf. голівонька, серденько, матуся.

An e v a l u a t i v e connotation expresses approval or disapproval, e.g., clique – group, magic – witchcraft (вітервітрюга; козаккозаченько).

A fourth type of connotation is the i n t e n s i f y i n g connotation (also expressive, emphatic). Thus, magnificent, splendid, superb (вітервітерецьвітрищевітрюга) are all used colloquially as terms of exaggeration.

Words may be monosemantic or polyse­mantic. Monosemantic words are sometimes represented by a whole lexico-grammatical class, as it is in case of all pronouns, numerals, conjunctions and various nomenclature words (terms). E.g.: we, she, nobody, ten, thir­ty, and, or, atom, oxygen, sugar, today; він, вони, десять, перший, і/та, чи, кисень, цукор, сьогодні, торік, etc.

The semantic structure of the bulk of English polyse­mantic nouns, e.g., is richer than that of the Ukrainian nouns. Thus, the English noun boat can mean човен, судно/корабель, шлюпка; the noun coat in English can mean верхній одяг, пальто, піджак, кітель, хутро (тварин), захисний шар фарби на предметі. Ukrainian words may sometimes have a complicated semantic struc­ture as well. E.g., the noun подорож may mean cruise, jour­ney, travel, trip, tour, voyage; or the word ще may mean still, yet, as yet, more, any more, again, else, but.

  1. Semantic Change in English and Ukrainian

The meaning of the word does not remain stable. Different changes of word meaning can be classified according to the social causes that bring about change of meaning (socio-linguistic classification), the nature of these changes (psychological classification), and the results of semantic changes (logical classification). Causes, nature and results of semantic changes should be viewed as three essentially different but inseparable aspects of one and the same linguistic phenomenon as any change of meaning may be investigated from the point of view of its cause, nature and its consequences (results).

    1. The socio-linguistic classification of semantic change

The causes of semantic changes may be subdivided into two groups: a) extra-linguistic and b) linguistic.

E x t r a – l i n g u i s t i c causes of semantic changes are:

1) changes in social life of a community, resulting in the appearance of new words, e.g., sputnik, lunokhod, computer, space-ship; cosmo­drome, glasnost, perestroika, Rukh movement, hryvnia,, Rada (the Verkhovna Rada), salo and others. Comparatively new borrowings from the English language in present-day Ukrainian are комп 'ютер, дисплей, дискета, касета, менеджмент, маркетинг, бартер, імпічмент, інтернет, кліп, сканер, серфінг, валнеологія, ґрант, офшорний, провайдер, траст, пабліситі, тренінг, фрістайл, боді шейпінґ, пауерліфтинґ, фітнес, кікбоксинґ, плеймейкер, топ-шоу, памперси, блюз, рекет, офіс/офісний, ретро, сервіс, аудит, стільниковий зв'язок, мобільний телефон, і-мейл, гамбургер, чізбурґер (frоm English), піцца (from Italian), бістрó/бистрó (from French) and several others.

2) Changes of things the names of which are retained, e.g., the word car from Latin “carrus” which meant “a four-wheeled wagon”, but now it denotes “a motor-car”, “a railway carriage”. Cf. зелені (амер. долари), телек (телевізор), шкура (шкіряна куртка), Бушові стегенця (стегенця американських бройлерів), кравчучка (вер­тикальний/легенький двоколісний візок), кучмовоз (більший і міцніший двоколісний вертикальний візок типу тачки), попса (американські чи інші естрадні пісні низької якості), стречі (вузькі дівчачі штани), капрі (дівочі штани-кльош із розрізом унизу), фритюр (смажіння), мондіаль (світовий чемпіонат), вісаж (косметичний і художній догляд за обличчям).

Linguistic causes, i.e. factors acting within the language system, may be of paradigmatic and syntagmatic character. The commonest form of the syntagmatic semantic changes depending on the context is ellipsis. In a phrase made up of two words one of these is omitted and its meaning is transferred to its partner, e.g., the verb to starve had the meaning “to die” and was used with the word “hunger” (ME “sterven of hunger”). Already in the 16th century the verb itself acquired the meaning “to die of hunger”. Similarly, propose instead of propose marriage, be expecting instead of be expecting a baby, a weekly (newspaper), a monthly (magazine), a stereo (receiver). An example of linguistic cause of paradigmatic character is discrimination of synonyms. It is a gradual change observed in the course of language history. E.g., the words time and tide used to be synonyms, then tide was applied to the shifting waters and time is used in the general sense.

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