The Enrichment of the Context of Word Meaning
Abstract : On the study of the context and word meaning , linguists mainly focused on the function of context on solving the ambiguity of word meaning. There are a great number of papers, home or abroad, concerning about this topic. And indeed context contributes a lot to the understanding of word meaning. However, in return, does word meaning, in some degree, effect the generation of context, if it can? Few papers or books have thrown light upon this topic. In this paper, a general analysis will be given to show how word meaning works on the enrichment of the context based on certain context.
Key words : word meaning; connotation; denotation; physical context; linguistic context
Ⅰ Some theories concerning about the study of word meaning . 1.
Classifications of word meaning
On the analysis of word meaning, we should turn to Semantics, which refers to the study of the meaning of linguistic unit, words and sentences in particular (Hu Zhuanglin; 2001:158). When referring the classification of word meaning, the ideas vary, for example, according to Leech, there are 7 types of word meaning: conceptual meaning(denotative meaning), social meaning, connotative meaning, affective meaning, reflected meaning, collective meaning, and thematic meaning.(Hu Zhuanglin; 2001:159). While according to Cruse, we distinguish four kinds of word meaning: proposed meaning, expressive meaning, presupposed meaning, and evoked meaning(Baker;2000: 13). In Yule, he descr ibes the word meaning as two parts, that is conceptual meaning (denotative meaning) and associative meaning (connotative meaning) (2000:114). The same classification can be seen in the book A New Coursebook on Chinese-English Translation (Chen Hongwei & Li Yadan;2010: 52). In this paper, the last classification will be adopted as the base of analysis. Conceptual Meaning, in other words denotative meaning or denotation, a part of the meaning of a word or phrase that relates it to phenomena in the real world or in a fictional or possible world (Longman Dictionary of Teaching & Applied Linguistics ;148). Some may explain it as the meaning of word listed in dictionaries or the basic meaning of a word. For example, the denotation of the word "needle" is "thin, sharp, s teel instrument". It is stable.
Connotative Meaning, or Connotations (Associative Meaning), the additional meaning that a word or phrase has beyond its central meaning ( Longman Dictionary of Teaching & Applied Linguistics; 108). Some may define it as t he additional meaning during the actual use words or sentences by an individual or a speech
community. For example, when referring the "needle", one may associate it with "pain", "thread" etc. And as for the color "red", it is seen as the symbol of happy events of something happy by Chinese; however it will be connected with "blood", "murder" o r "death" by British. It varies among different speech communities. 2.
The theory of meaning which refers the meaning of words to the thing (it ca n be events, people, actions or p henomena ) it refers to, or stand for, is known as the referential theory (Hu Zhuanglin; 2001,106). For instance, in the sentence "The Xing Zhi Building in Tai Yuan Normal University is named after the great educator Tao Xingzhi ", here we know that "The Xing Zhi Building" refers to a concrete building in "Taiyuan Normal University", a university in Taiyuan, and " Tao Xingzhi" as is known to all refers to a great Chinese educator who devoted himself to the development of Chinese education.
According to Yule, context includes 2 parts, co - text(上下文 ) ,also known as linguistic context, and physical context or situational context. The co- text of a word is the set of other words used in the same phrase or sentence (2000:129). In a more broad sense, the phrases or sentences before and a fter could also be the co- text of a word. They are things...
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