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The Meating of English Words(реферат), стр. 2

the lan­guage's expressive resources.

When analysing the semantic structure of a polyse­mantic word, it is necessary to distinguish between two levels of analysis.

On the first level, the semantic structure of a word is treated as a system of meanings. For example, the semantic structure of the noun “fire” could be roughly presented by this scheme (only the most frequent meanings are given):


The above scheme suggests that meaning (I) holds a kind of dominance over the other meanings conveying the concept in the most general way whereas meanings (II)—(V) are associated with special circumstances, as­pects and instances of the same phenomenon.

Meaning (I) (generally referred to as the main mean­ing) presents the centre of the semantic structure of the word holding it together. It is mainly through meaning (I) that meanings (II)—(V) (they are called second­ary meanings) can be associated with one another, some of them exclusively through meaning (I) - the main meaning, as, for instance, meanings (IV) and (V).

It would hardly be possible to establish any logical associations between some of the meanings of the noun “bar” except through the main meaning[1]:

Bar, n

Meaning's (II) and (III) have no logical links with one an­other whereas each separately is easily associated with meaning (I): meaning (II) through the traditional barrier dividing a court-room into two parts; meaning (III) through the counter serving as a kind of barrier be­tween the customers of a pub and the barman.

Yet, it is not in every polysemantic word that such a centre can be found. Some semantic structures are ar­ranged on a different principle. In the following list of meanings of the adjective “dull” one can hardly hope to find a generalized meaning covering and holding to­gether the rest of the semantic structure.

Dull, adj.

1. A dull book, a dull film - uninteresting, monotonous, boring.

2. A dull stu­dent - slow in understanding, stupid.

3. Dull weather, a dull day, a dull colour - not clear or bright.

4. A dull sound - not loud or distinct.

5. A dull knife - not sharp.

6. Trade is dull - not active.

7. Dull eyes (arch.) - seeing badly.

8. Dull ears (arch.) - hearing badly.

There is something that all these seemingly miscellaneous meanings have in common, and that is the implication of deficiency, be it of colour (m. III), wits (m. II), interest (m. I), sharpness (m. V), etc. The implication of insufficient quality, of something lacking, can be clearly distinguished in each separate meaning.

Dull, adj.

1. Uninteresting - deficient in interest or ex­citement.

2. ... Stupid - deficient in intellect.

3. Not bright- deficient in light or colour.

4. Not loud - deficient in sound.

5. Not sharp - deficient in sharpness.

6. Not active - deficient in activity.

7. Seeing badly - deficient in eyesight.

8. Hearing badly - deficient in hearing.

The transformed scheme of the semantic structure of “dull” clearly shows that the centre holding together the complex semantic structure of this word is not one of the meanings but a certain component that can be easily singled out within each separate meaning.

On the second level of analysis of the semantic structure of a word: each separate meaning is a subject to struc­tural analysis in which it may be represented as sets of semantic components.

The scheme of the semantic structure of “dull” shows that the semantic structure of a word is not a mere sys­tem of meanings, for each separate meaning is subject to further subdivision and possesses an inner structure of its own.

Therefore, the semantic structure of a word should be investigated at both these levels: 1) of different meanings, 2) of semantic components within each sepa­rate meaning. For a monosemantic word (i. e. a word with one meaning) the first level is naturally excluded.

Types of Semantic Components

The leading semantic component in the semantic structure of a word is usually termed denotative compo­nent (also, the term referential component may be used). The denotative component expresses the concep­tual content of a word.

The following list presents denotative components of some English adjectives and verbs:

Denotative components

lonely, adj. - alone, without company …

notorious, adj. - widely known

celebrated, adj. - widely known

to glare, v. - to look

to glance, v. - to look

to shiver, v. - to tremble

to shudder, v. - to tremble

It is quite obvious that the definitions given in the right column only partially and incompletely describe the meanings of their corresponding words. They do not give a mor

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