Lenguaas meaning

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1. The Definition of Meaning

The definition of the meaning is especially difficult due to the complexity of the process by which language and human consciousness serve to reflect the reality and adopt it to human needs. Nowadays there is no universally accepted definition of the meaning, or rather a definition all the basic features of meaning and being simultaneously time operational. The branch of lexicology devoted to the study of meaning is called semasiology.Meaning is a realization of a notion or a motion by means of definite language system.The modern approach to semasiology is based on the assumption that the inner form of the word presents a structure which is called the semantic structure of the word. The basic principle of a structural semantic approach is that words do not exist in isolation. The meanings of words are defined through the sense relations they have with other words. There are different approaches to define the meaning of the word.


2. Types of meaning

Word-meaning is not homogeneous. It is made up of various components. These components are described as types of meaning. The two main types of meaning are the grammatical (categorical) meaning and the lexical (material) meaning.

The grammatical meaning is defined as an expression in speech of relationship between words. GM is the component of meaning recurrent in identical sets of individual forms of different words: the tense meaning (asked, thought, walked); the case meaning (girl's, boy's, night's); the meaning of plurality (joys, tables, places). Grammatical meaning is generalized in the most abstract part of the meaning of the word; it is common to all the words belonging to this part of speech. It is that part of meaning which recurs in the identical forms of different words of the same class, e.G., big, bigger, the biggest.


The lexical meaning is the meaning proper to the given linguistic unit in all its forms and distributions. The word-forms go, goes, went, going, gone possess different grammatical meanings of tense, person, number, but in each form they have one and the same semantic component denoting 'the process of movement'.

Lexical meaning is not indivisible, it may be analyzed in three components: denotational, connotational, and pragmatic.

One part of meaning expressing a notion is called denotation. Denotational meaning establishes correlation between the name and the object, process or characteristic feature of concrete reality (or thought) which is denoted by the given word. Denotation expresses a notion. Denotation is objective, it reflects objective reality through notions. The other part of meaning may express a personal attitude of the speaker to the object of speech, or it may characterize the role of the speaker in the process of communication. The subjective part of meaning is the connotation of the word. Connotations are subjective, they characterize the speaker, his attitude, his social role.

Semantic change changes of both synchronic and diachronic nature, which concerns the semantic content of the word. New meanings would appear by means of semantic shift (q.V.) and semantic transference (q.V.), which lead to the growth of polysemy. Causes for s.Ch. Can be both extralinguistic and linguistic.

There are many causes of semantic change:

1) Historical causes.
According to historical principle, everything develops changes, social institutions change in the course of time, the words also change.
Ex.: “car” which goes back to Latin “carfus” which meant a four wheeled (vehicle) wagon, despite of the lack of resemblance.
2) Psychological causes.
Taboos of various kinds.
Words are replaced by other words, sometimes people do not realize that they use euphemisms.
Ex.: “lady’s room” instead of the “lavatory”
3) Linguistic causes
Tendency of a language to borrow a particular metaphorical development of a word from another language.

The nature of semantic change.

Metaphor accounts for a very considerable proportions of semantic changes.
Language is full of so-called fossilized (trite-банальный, избитый, неоригинальный) metaphors, which no longer call up the image of an object from which they were borrowed.

Ex.: the leaf of a book; hands of a clock; a clock face; hands of a cabbage.

Metonymy is the tendency of certain words to occur in near proximity & mutually influence one another.

He drinks 2 cups (tea, coffee) every morning.

He has eaten 2 plates (porridge) today.

Semantic change -2

“Bureau” (French origin)

When it appeared in the language, meant “thick green cloth” usually tables were covered with it, it became associated with a writing table. (BrE)

AmE: 2 further stages

- an office furnished with writing tables

- an office

1) The substitution of cause, form effect
- sleeping sickness is diseases which causes sleep & vice versa.

2) Catachresis is a gradual planting of one sense for another for a large or short period of time.

Ex.:  - sermon (early) – any conversation
                        (now) – religious conversation

One of the chief consequences of semantic change is the change in the area meaning.
Each word has an area of meaning, it has certain limits.

As a result of semantic change this area of meaning can be restricted (ограниченный, узкий) or expended (тратить, расходовать (на что-л. - for, on, in)).


1. Restriction of meaning:
- names for classes of animals
“deer” – earlier included all wild animals
                    now only deer
       “fowl” – earlier - birds in general
                      now – poultry & wild fowl (дичь)
-  a number of Anglo-Saxon words shrunk under the influence of Norman words
“pond” – from Latin “pontus” (sea or large stretch of water).
Due to its confrontation with word “lake” “pond” changed its meaning to “пруд”.

2. Expansion of meaning.
         It happens as a result of chance situations.
         The word “вокзал’ came to Russian from English word “Vauxhall” as the general name of all main railway stations. Now – автовокзал, ж/д вокзал, м/р вокзал.
The same thing happens very often with loan words (заимствованное слово).


Sound interchange is the way of word building when some sounds are changed to form a new word. It is non-productive in Modern English; it was productive in Old English and can be met in other Indo-European languages.

The causes of sound interchange can be different. It can be the result of Ancient Ablaut which cannot be explained by the phonetic laws during the period of the language development known to scientists., e.G. To strike - stroke, to sing - song etc. It can be also the result of Ancient Umlaut or vowel mutation which is the result of palatalizing the root vowel because of the front vowel in the syllable coming after the root (regressive assimilation), e.G. Hot - to heat (hotian), blood - to bleed (blodian) etc.

In many cases we have vowel and consonant interchange. In nouns we have voiceless consonants and in verbs we have corresponding voiced consonants because in Old English these consonants in nouns were at the end of the word and in verbs in the intervocal position, e.G. Bath - to bathe, life - to live, breath - to breathe etc.


It is the way of word building when imitating different sounds forms a word. There are some semantic groups of words formed by means of sound imitation

a) Sounds produced by human beings, such as: to whisper, to giggle, to mumble, to sneeze, to whistle etc.

b) Sounds produced by animals, birds, insects, such as: to hiss, to buzz, to bark, to moo, to twitter etc.

c) Sounds produced by nature and objects, such as: to splash, to rustle, to clatter, to bubble, to ding-dong, to tinkle etc.

The corresponding nouns are formed by means of conversion, e.G. Clang (of a bell), chatter (of children) etc


This comparatively new way of word-building has achieved a high degree of productivity nowadays, especially in American English. Shortenings (or contracted words-сокращенные) are produced in two different ways. 1. The first is to make a new word from a syllable (rarer, two) of the original word. The latter may lose its beginning (as in phone made from telephone, fence from defence), its ending (as in hols from holidays, vac from vacation, props from properties, ad from advertisement) or both the beginning and ending (as in flu from influenza, fridge from refrigerator). 2. The second way of shortening is to make a new word from the initial letters of a word group: U.N.O. From the United Nations Organisation, B.B.C. From the British Broadcasting Corporation, M.P. From Member of Parliament. This type is called initial shortenings. They are found not only among formal words, such as the ones above, but also among colloquialisms and slang. So, g. F. Is a shortened word made from the compound girl-friend. The somewhat odd-looking words like flu, pram, lab, M. P., V-day, H-bomb are called shortenings, contractions or curtailed words and are produced by the way of word-building called shortening (contraction). The shortening of words involves the shortening of both words and word-groups. Distinction should he made between shortening of a word in written speech (graphical abbreviation) and in the sphere of oral intercourse (lexical abbreviation). ABBREVIATION Lexical abbreviations may be used both in written and in oral speech. Lexical abbreviation is the process of forming a word out of the initial elements (letters, morphemes) of a word combination by a simultaneous operation of shortening and compounding. Clipping consists in cutting off two or more syllables of a word. Words that have been shortened at the end are called apocope (doc-doctor, mit-mitten, vet-veterinary). Words that have been shortened at the beginning are called aphaeresis (phone-telephone). Words in which some syllables or sounds have been omitted from the middle are called syncope (ma'm - madam, specs - spectacles).


Sometimes a combination of these types is observed (tec-detective, frig-refrigerator). Blendings (blends, fusions or portmanteau words) may be defined as formation that combine two words that include the letters or sounds they have in common as a connecting element (slimnastics < slim+gymnasttcs;="" mimsy="">< miserable+flimsy;="" galumph="">< gallop+triumph;="" neutopia="">< new+utopia).="" the="" process="" of="" formation="" is="" also="" called="" telescoping. ="" graphical="" abbreviations="" are="" the="" result="" of="" shortening="" of="" words="" and="" word-groups="" only="" in="" written="" speech="" while="" orally="" the="" corresponding="" full="" forms="" are="" used.="" they="" are="" used="" for="" the="" economy="" of="" space="" and="" effort="" in="" writing.The="" oldest="" group="" of="" graphical="" abbreviations="" in="" english="" is="" of="" latin="" origin.="" in="" russian="" this="" type="" of="" abbreviation="" is="" not="" typical.="" in="" these="" abbreviations="" in="" the="" spelling="" latin="" words="" are="" shortened,="" while="" orally="" the="" corresponding="" english="" equivalents="" are="" pronounced="" in="" the="" full="" form,e.G.="" for="" example="" (latin="" exampli="" gratia),="" a.M.="" -="" in="" the="" morning="" (ante="" meridiem),="" no="" -="" number="" (numero),="" i.="" e.="" -="" that="" is="" (id="" est)="" etc.="" some="" graphical="" abbreviations="" of="" latin="" origin="" have="" different="" english="" equivalents="" in="" different="" contexts,="" e.G.="" p.M.="" can="" be="" pronounced="" "in="" the="" afternoon"="" (post="" meridiem)="" and="" "after="" death"="" (post="" mortem).There="" are="" also="" graphical="" abbreviations="" of="" native="" origin,="" where="" in="" the="" spelling="" we="" have="" abbreviations="" of="" words="" and="" word-groups="" of="" the="" corresponding="" english="" equivalents="" in="" the="" full="" form.="" we="" have="" several="" semantic="" groups="" of="" them="" :="" days="" of="" the="" week,="" e.G.="" mon="" -="" monday="" names="" of="" months,="" e.G.="" apr="" -="" april.="" names="" of="" counties="" in="" uk,="" e.G.="" yorks="" -="" yorkshire="" names="" of="" states="" in="" usa,="" e.G.="" ala="" -="" alabama.="" names="" of="" address,="" e.G.="" mr.,="" mrs.="" military="" ranks,="" e.G.="" capt.="" -captain,="" col.="" -="" colonel.="" scientific="" degrees,="" e.G.="" b.A.="" -="" bachelor="" of="" arts,="" units="" of="" time,="" length,="" weight,="" e.G.="" f.="" ft="" -foot/feet,="" sec.="" –="" second.="" initial="" abbreviations.="">

Assimilation of Borrowings-1. Assimilation is a process of adjusting in Phonetics and Lexicology. The term Assimilation in Etymology is used to denote a partial or total conformation of a borrowed word to the phonetical (graphical and morphological standards and the semantic system of the receiving language (язык-реципиент).

There are three main types of Assimilation:

  1. Phonetic Assimilation– the adjusting of the phonetic structure of a borrowed word to the phonetical system of the recipient language. Loan words not assimilated phonetically retain their foreign pronunciation like most of the French borrowings of the latest time, e.G. Police, machine, ballet;

  2. Grammatical Assimilation – a conformation of a borrowed word to the morphological standards of the receiving language. Grammatically assimilated loan words acquire English grammatical categories and paradigms, e.G. To count-counted-counting, sputnik-sputniks. Loan words not assimilated grammatically retain their foreign grammatical forms like some nouns borrowed from Latin which keep their original plural inflexions, e.G. Phenomenon – phenomena.

  3. Lexical Assimilation – a conformation of a borrowed word to the lexico-semantic system of the receiving language. It means that a borrowed word may participate in word building and develop its semantic structure, e.G. Sputnik – to out sputniks, sputnikists. Foreign polysemantic words become monosemantic in the receiving language but a borrowed word may develop a new meaning in the receiving language, e.G. Palate (the roof of the mouth) has developed a new meaning in English = taste, inclination and interest; and the new derivatives – palatable (tasty) and etc. There is a noticeable group of words which are not completely assimilated graphically, e.G. Ballet, café (with diacritic mark).


Degree of Assimilation depends on the following factors:

  • The time of borrowing. The older the borrowing is, the more thoroughly it’s assimilated

  • The frequency of usage

  • The way in which the word was adopted. Oral borrowings are assimilated more rapidly and more completely than literary borrowings, e.G. Borrowings through writing.

Types of Assimilation

According to the degree of Assimilation, borrowings are subdivided into:

  1. completely/fully assimilated words. They correspond to all phonetic, morphological and semantic laws of English and do not felt as borrowings. They are found in all the layers of older borrowings (Latin, Scandinavian, French). Many of them belong to the native word stock of English (cheese, street – Latin; husband, to die, to take – Scandinavian; table – French).

  2. partially assimilated borrowed words. They’ve retained:

    1. foreign pronunciation (vase, restaurant)

    2. foreign morphological characteristics (datum – data)

    3. they are not assimilated semantically denoting notion of foreign cultures, nature, customs (steppe, taiga, sombrero). These are foreign realies which have no corresponding equivalents in English.

  3. barbarisms (unassimilated borrowed words). These are foreign words used by English people in oral speech or in writing but not assimilated in any way. They usually have corresponding English equivalents, e.G. “Chao” (Italian), “adio”

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