Types of meaning.




Semasiology - is the branch of linguistics that is devoted to the study of meaning.


Meaning is a certain reflection in our mind of objects, phenomena or relations, which makes inner-faced part of linguistic sign, the sound form functions as its out-faced part.


There are 2 approaches to meaning.

1. Referential formulates the essence of meaning by establishing the dependence between words and things and concepts they denote.

2. Functional studies functions of the word in speech, less concerned with what meaning is, rather with how it works.


All works on the theory of meaning are based on referential approach. The essential feature of this approach is that it distinguishes between 3 components, closely connected with meaning:

The sound form of the sign

The concept, underlining this sound form

The actual referent aspect of reality to which the linguistic sign refers.


The referential model of meaning is called basic triangle. It underlines the semantic system of all principles of this school.



Concept (bird)



Sound form Referent (a particular bird )


Sound form of the linguistic sign dove is connected with our concept of the bird, which denotes the actual referent.

So, the common feature of referential approach is implication that meaning is in some case connected with the referent.


Functional approach claims that a linguistic study of meaning is the investigation of the relation of sign to sign only. The meaning of linguistic units may be studied through their relation to other linguistic units, not through relation to concept or referent.

So, meanings of words move and movement are different because they function in speech differently.


1. Grammatical is a component of meaning, recurrent in identical sets of individual forms of words (e.g. plural of nouns, Past Indefinite etc.).

2. Lexical meaning has denotational and connotational components.


The denotational component expresses notional content of a word and makes communication possible.

Denotation expression of main meaning, meaning proper of a linguistic unit, in contrast to its connotation.

Connotational component additional semantic meaning.


Types of connotation:



Connotation of duration and cause.


Connotation supplementary meaning and stylistic shade that is added to the words main meaning and express all sorts of emotional, expressive overtones.



A word having several meanings is called polysemantic.

The ability of words to have more than one meaning is named polysemy.

The system of meanings of every polysemantic word develops gradually, over the centuries. As more meanings are added, some of old meanings may be lost.


There are 2 levels of analysis of semantic structure of polysemantic words.

1. The semantic structure of a word is treated as the system of meanings.

E.g.: fire 1) flame ()

2) an instance of destructive burning ()

3) burning material in the stove, fireplace ()

4) the shooting of guns ( )

5) strong feeling, passion

6) strong pain.


Meaning 1 is a dominant, describes concept in the most general way, other meanings are associated with special aspects of the same phenomenon. Meaning 1 is a centre of semantic structure and is the main meaning. Meanings 2-6 are secondary meanings and can be associated with one another.


2. Each meaning can be divided into semantic components.




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() | Transference (metaphor and metonymy).

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