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:
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.
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.
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:
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