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Amelioration vs. Pejoration of Meaning.

The process by which a word becomes more respectable or its meaning becomes more pleasant is amelioration. The history of groom provides a good illustration. Marshal and constable were also raised in status from referring to horse grooms to referring to police officers. Cnicht, the Anglo-Saxon word for knight, started out meaning servant.

The opposite process, by which a word becomes disreputable or its meaning degenerates, is pejoration.Probably the best example of the pejorative process and its effects is the word ain't. Originally ain't was spelled an't and pronounced ahnt. It was a contraction for am not and used only with I. But untutored American settlers began using the word (by then pronounced ant) with he, she, and they, extending its meaning to are not, is not, and even have not.

12. Specialization vs. Generalization of Meaning.


Specialization and Generalization
Connotations can change a word's meaning in other ways besides raising or lowering its acceptability. A word's use in a particular context or situation can lead to the broadening or narrowing of semantic meaning.

When the meaning of a word is extended to cover a similar or related idea, it undergoes generalization. When its meaning becomes more specific, it undergoes specialization. In either case, the old meaning may be kept along with the new, or the original may become obsolete, being replaced entirely by the new meaning.

Generalization also occurs when the meaning of a word is broadened to include a related concept. Board, a flat piece of lumber, was extended to mean the table made from the board and later meals (served on the board) received as pay. Board was also extended in connection with another kind of table to mean a group of people in conference. Although board has not lost its original meaning, few people think of a piece of lumber when speaking of the chairman of the board.
Let's Review!

Processes Responsible for Semantic Changes

The lexical meaning of a word can change in the course of time. Changes of lexical meanings can be proved by comparing contexts of different times. Glad (OE) meant glad, bright SC is one of the most important ways of developing the vocabulary.

The causes of semantic changes can be extra-linguisticdifferent kind of change in its culture, knowledge, technology, arts lead to gaps appearing in the voc. Newly created objects concepts & phenomena must be named. e.g. the change of the lexical meaning of the noun «pen» was due to extra-linguistic causes. Primarily « pen» comes back to the Latin word «penna» (a feather of a bird). Carriage – a vehicle drowned by horses/ a railway car

The process of SC.2 types of transference are distinguishable and depend on the 3 types of logical associations. They are metaphor and metonymy.


It is a transfer of the meaning on the basis of comparison. Herman Paul points out that metaphor can be based on different types of similarity: a) similarity of shape, e.g. head (of a cabbage), bottleneck, teeth (of a saw, a comb);b) similarity of position, e.g. foot (of a page, of a mountain), head (of a procession); c) similarity of function, behaviour e.g. a whip (an official in the British Parliament whose duty is to see that members were present at the voting); d) similarity of colour, e.g. orange, hazel, chestnut etc.

In some cases we have a complex similarity, e.g. the leg of a table has a similarity to a human leg in its shape, position and function. Many metaphors are based on parts of a human body, e.g. an eye of a needle, arms and mouth of a river, head of an army. A special type of metaphor is when Proper names become common nouns, e.g. philistine - a mercenary person, vandals - destructive people, a Don Juan - a lover of many women etc.

Metonymy. It is a transfer of the meaning on the basis of contiguity. There are different types of metonymy: a) the material of which an object is made may become the name of the object , e.g. a glass, boards, iron etc; b) the name of the place may become the name of the people or of an object placed there, e.g. the House - members of Parliament, Fleet Street - bourgeois press, the White House - the Administration of the USA etc; c) names of musical instruments may become names of musicians, e.g. the violin, the saxophone;d) the name of some person may become a common noun, e.g. «boycott» was originally the name of an Irish family who were so much disliked by their neighbours that they did not mix with them, «sandwich» was named after Lord Sandwich who was a gambler. He did not want to interrupt his game and had his food brought to him while he was playing cards between two slices of bread not to soil his fingers. e) names of inventors very often become terms to denote things they invented, e.g. «watt» , «om», «rentgen» etc f) some geographical names can also become common nouns through metonymy, e.g. holland (linen fabrics), Brussels (a special kind of carpets) , china (porcelain) , astrachan ( a sheep fur) etc.


14 .What Are Meaning Relations? Relation of Reference vs. Sense Relation


In the narrow sense are semantic relations relations between concepts or meanings.

The concept [school] should be distinguished from the word ‘school’. [School] is a kind of [educational institution]. This indicates a hierarchical (or generic) relationship between two concepts or meanings, which is one kind among a long range of kinds of semantic relations.


The concept [School] may, for example, be expressed by the terms or expressions ‘school’, ‘schoolhouse’ and ‘place for teaching’. The relation between ‘school’ and ‘schoolhouse’ is a (synonym) relation between two words, while the relation between ‘school’ and ‘place for teaching’ is a relation between a word and an expression or phrase. The relations between words are termed lexical relations. 'School' also means [a group of people who share common characteristics of outlook, a school of thought]. This is a homonym relation: Two senses share the same word or expression: ‘school’. Synonyms and homonyms are not relations between concepts, but are about concepts expressed with identical or with different signs.


Relations between concepts, senses or meanings should not be confused with relations between the terms, words, expressions or signs that are used to express the concepts. It is, however, common to mix both of these kinds of relations under the heading "semantic relations" (i.e., Cruse, 1986; Lyons, 1977; Malmkjær, 1995 & Murphy, 2003), why synonyms, homonyms etc. are considered under the label "semantic relations" in in a broader meaning of this term.

Sense vs. Reference:
The reference of a word or phrase is the actual (real-world) object(s) denoted by that word, without any further connotations. 'Sense', however, encompasses the full meaning of a phrase, and so extends beyond the merely actual.

A 'rigid designator' is some phrase that refers to the same object throughout all possible worlds (and so lacks any deeper 'sense'). Names are the typical examples of rigid designators, whereas descriptions are the opposite.

As an example, compare the name 'George W. Bush' to the description 'President of the United States'. The phrases have identical reference (since both refer to the same actual person). However, they have a very different meaning (or 'sense'), since we can imagine other possible worlds where Al Gore (for example) is president instead. Note that 'George W. Bush' refers to the same person in all possible worlds where he exists, whereas the referent of 'President of the United States' will vary from world to world.

(Incidentally, I think sense/reference mirrors the de dicto/de re distinction that is crucial to the 'longer than it is' puzzle.)

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 2981

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