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Theory of meaning. Types of meaning according Vinogradov.

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Meaningthe reverberation in the human consciousness of an object, a quality of extralinguistic reality (a phenomenon, a relationship, a quality, a process), which becomes a fact of language because of its constant indissoluble association with a definite linguistic expression. Meaning conveyed by a speaker is the speaker's communicative intent in using an expression, even if that use departs from the expression's meaning. Accordingly, any discussion of m. should distinguish speaker's m. from linguistic m. – See Sense.


There exist a number of definitions of meaning:

  • - a reciprocal relation between name and sense, which enables them to call up one another (St.Ullmann);
  • - function in a context. Meaning, then, we use the whole complex of functions which a linguistic form may have (J.R.Firth);
  • - a function of the descriptions at all levels (M.A.K.Halliday) and many others.

Vinogradov: the meaning of a word can be:

  • 1. Nominative.
  • 2. Nominative- derivative
  • 3. Collegationally and collocationally conditioned.
  • 4. Phraseologically bound.


1. Nominative is the basic meaning of a word, which refers to objects of extra linguistic reality in a direct way and reflects their actual relations.

2. Nominative-Derivative meaning comes into being when the word is “stretched out” semantically to cover new facts and extra linguistic phenomena.

When the speaker uses the word metaphorically he extends it’s content.
The metaphorical use is based on certain similarities observed by the speaker.
 Sweet not only taste, but pleasant, attractive
 Sweet face, voice, little baby.
 Here we speak

Different meaning- the identity of the word remains intact, because the difference in meaning is not great enough to split the word into 2 different units.

When the speaker observes similarities between the objects, the semantic content of a word is made elastic to be stretched out and cover new bits of reality.

Metaphoric meanings are registered in dictionaries.

Such meanings are often poetically present in the semantic structure of the word.

Some words (adj-s) are characterized by broad meaningness, it allows them to develop new meanings.
 cool, chilly, frozen, hot
 eyes were frozen with terror
For parts of the body:
 Hand- рука, стрелка часов  face-лицо, циферблат часов (of a clock)
 Foot- нога, подножие горы leg- нога, ножка стула
 Tongue-язык, языки пламени eye-глаз, ушко иголки (~of a needle)
If nominative meaning is a direct meaning: Nominative-Derivative meaning is a transferred meaning.

3. Collegiationally and collocationally conditioned meanings are not free, but bound.

a. Collegationally conditioned meaning is determined by morphosyntactic combinability of words. Some meanings are realized only without a given morphosyntactic pattern (colligation)
to tell- рассказать, сказать
In passive constructions means to order/to direct
 You must do what you’re told.
 To carry- нести
In passive construction= to accept
 The amendment to the bill was carried.
b. Collocationally conditioned meaning is determined by lexical- phraseological combinality of words.
There are meaning which depend on the word association with other words (collocation)
 A herd of cows, a flock of sheep
Collocation is used here as a typical behaviour of a word in speech.
Firth: U shall know a virt by the company he keeps.
Mccarthy: Collocation is a marriage contract between words; some words are more firmly married to each other than others.
Certain meanings belong only to a given collocation, q word is habitually associated with another word to form a natural sounding combinations.

4. Phraseologically bound meaning.

Collocations should be distinguished from idioms and phraseological units.
Idioms and phraseological units are devoid of referential meanings.
The meanings of the individual words can’t be summed together to produce the meaning of the idiomatic expression.
to kick the bucket = to die
This idiom is opaque (непрозрачный)

To pass the buck = to pass the responsibility
This idiom is semiopaque.
To see the light = to understand
This idiom is transparent.
The word combimation is literal in meaning, because its degree of idiomatic is low it’s called phraseological unit.


Typology of ms.:

  • - actual m. – opp. to virtual (systemic) m., actualized in speech, specified by linguistic and situational context;
  • - associative m. – similar to connotation (q.v.), weak implication, a conceptual entity to which the systemic m. of a given word merely hints, indirectly implies, which is triggered by association;
  • - bound m. – actualised by a word in a given phrase or context, predetermined by semantic or morphosyntactic combinability (or collocationally and colligationally bound)
  • - broad m. – resulting from generalization of m. (q.v.), when a word develops the broadest referential capacity possible (e.g. way. thing, body, do, have); further stage is deemantization and loss of purely lexical m., transformation of a lexical unit into a grammatical morpheme
  • - categorial m. – part-of-speech meaning;
  • - cognitive m. – a) same as conceptual or denotative or nominative or main meaning; b) the conceptual core, significative part of m. reflecting essential features of the referent conceptualised by our cognition; distinct from pragmatic m.;
  • - colligationally and collocationally conditioned m. (Acad. V.V. Vinogradov's term) – are not 'free' but 'bound' ones in the sense that they are determined by morphosyntactic and lexical-phraseological combinability. Some meanings are realised only within a given morpho-syntactic pattern (colligation), e.g. the verb to tell when used in a passive construction displays its colligationally conditioned meaning 'to order, to direct – You must do what you are told'. Similarly, there are meanings which depend on the word's association with other lexical units (collocation). Here the idiom principle is the leading one because the co-occurrence range of the word is determined not only by its meaning, but also, to a great extent, by the conventions of its use: e.g. milk is never rancid, but sour (see secondary signification). The verb to raise acquires a collocationally bound meaning ('to grow plants' or 'keep animals') when used in combinations, such as raise wheat/ pigs / cattle. When combine with the nouns hopes / consciousness / awareness, its meaning changes: The conference is intended to raise people's awareness of Aids. – See bound m.
  • - conceptual m. - same as cognitive or denotative or nominative or main meaning;
  • - connotative (connotational) m. – See Connotation
  • - contentional m. – reflects the structure of essential features of a notion, name.
  • - contextual (contextually-bound) m. – triggered/brought in by the contextual (both verbal and non-verbal) environment of the word; acquired on a definite occasion only;
  • - core m. – same as cognitive or denotative or nominative or main meaning;
  • - derived (derivational) m.
  • - direct m. – the main meaning of the word which appears in the act of primary semiosis; opp. to transferred (derived, figurative) m. which appears as a result of semantic derivation/semantic development processes (q.v.) and secondary nomination (q.v.).
  • - dynamic m. – actually, any m. is characterized by certain dynamism – ability to change either synchronically or diachronically, so that it would not be correct to discriminate between systemic (dictionary, virtual) m. as being static and speech (actual, actualized) m. as dynamic, although in a current speech event m. is necessarily subject to contextual (both linguistic and extralinguistic) influence hence actual is more dynamic than virtual/systemic m.;
  • - encyclopaedic m. – opp. to naive m. (q.v.), conveys the exhaustive information about an object, event or phenomenon, expert's knowledge of the denotatum which only professionals possess (cf. the meaning of the word 'atom' as understood by a physicist and by a actress). Lexical m. does not cover the e.m., actually, lexical m. has nothing to do with the e.m. To understand the m. of the word 'salt' you are not obligatorily to be an expert in chemistry and remember that NaCl is the chemical formula for salt and 'salts' are quite peculiar chemical substances not necessarily intended for cooking purposes.
  • - etymological m. – original m. of a word, which later on underwent semantic changes;
  • - expressive m
  • - extensional m. – a number of denotata to which a certain name refers to.
  • - further m. – m. or meanings within the prospective scope of semantic changes (only vaguely) predetermined by the current semantics of the word, the prospective sphere of its semantic variation;
  • - figurative m.
  • - free m. – nominative m. (q.v.) can be regarded as 'free' as distinct from the collocational and colligational meanings as bound (q.v.) ones;
  • - functional m. – grammatical meaning of a word (word-like unit) as an element of syntax, predetermined by its categorial (q.v.), subcategorial and individual lexical m.;
  • - generic m. – reflection in lexical m. of a generic concept, concept of the higher level of abstraction;
  • - grammatical m. – m. of a grammatical form of a word;
  • - idiomatic m. – m., actualized within a certain idiomatic expression only, idiomatically bound m.;
  • - lexical m. – m. of a lexical unit, comprises categorial m., subcategorial m. and individual m. of a lexeme; reflects a certain part of a corresponding concept on the level of language;
  • - lexico-grammatical m. – same as categorial m. (q.v.), part-of-speech m.;
  • - main m. – See nominative m;
  • - naive m. – lexical m. as represented in the mind of a common native speaker, not an expert in the field which includes the denotatum of the word – see encyclopaedic m.
  • - next m. – m. or meanings within the actual scope of semantic derivation of a lexeme, easily predetermined or expected by the core semantics (lexical prototype) of the word;
  • - nominative m. – also basic, main, direct, conceptual, cognitive m. of the word, referring to objects, phenomena, actions and qualities in extralinguistic reality (referent) and reflecting their general understanding by the speaker (can be correlated with referential, denotative, descriptive, factual, objective m.); realization of the word's nominative capacity (to serve as a name for some extralinguistic entity). The n.m. also has the following 'free' authentic equivalents in English: essential, central, domain, primary, focal, pivotal, common, usual – which are mostly used to avoid repetition in speech and not as technical terms;
  • - nominative-derivative m. – comes into being when the word is 'stretched out' semantically as a result of semantic derivation to cover new facts and phenomena of extralinguistic reality
  • - original m. – = etymological m.
  • - phraseological m. (phraseologically bound meaning) – also idiomatic m. (q.v.) the meaning which is realised only in some phrases and belongs only to a given collocation – when a word is habitually associated together with another word to form a 'natural-sounding' combination: e.g. to raise becomes part of the phrase meaning 'to show surprise' in to raise one's eyebrows (at smb.)
  • - pragmatic m. – semantic component of lexical m. (as distinct from conceptual m.) which reflects the attitudes, emotions of the speakers (either personal or communal), so it can be regarded a correlative term to connotation (q.v.);
  • - primary m. –  which to the greatest degree is dependent upon or conditioned by its paradigmatic links, while such meanings as display a greater degree of syntagmatic ties are secondary;
  • - referential m.
  • - secondary m.
  • - significative m.
  • - situational m.
  • - specific m. – opp. to generic m. (q.v.), m. of a specific term, correlates with the specific concept, a subordinate one in the hierarchical taxonomy;
  • - static m. – opp. to dynamic m. (q.v.)
  • - usual m. – m., accepted by the language-speaking community, fixed in dictionaries, reproduced in speech actualizations of the word;
  • - virtual m. - as opp. to actual m., systemic (fixed in dictionaries) m.

Прислала Алена Жильцова



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