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2.2.5 Emotive Charge and Stylistic Reference

Stylistic reference and emotive charge of words are closely connected and to a certain degree interdependent. As a rule stylistically coloured words, i.e. words belonging to all stylistic layers except the neutral style are observed to possess a considerable emotive charge. That can be proved by comparing stylistically labelled words with their neutral synonyms. The colloquial words daddy, mammy are more emotional than the neutral father, mother; the slang words mum, bob are undoubtedly more expressive than their neutral counterparts silent, shilling, the poetic yon and steed carry a noticeably heavier emotive charge than their neutral synonyms there and horse. Words of neutral style, however, may also differ in the degree of emotive charge. We see, e.g., that the words large, big, tremendous, though equally neutral as to their stylistic reference are not identical as far as their emotive charge is concerned.


 

Chapter 3. Word meaning and motivation

From what was said about the distributional meaning in morphemes it follows that there are cases when we can observe a direct connection between the structural pattern of the word and its meaning. This relationship between morphemic structure and meaning is termed morphological motivation.

The main criterion in morphological motivation is the relationship between morphemes. Hence all one-morpheme words, e.g. sing, tell, eat, are by definition non-motivated. In words composed of more than one morpheme the carrier of the word-meaning is the combined meaning of the component morphemes and the meaning of the structural pattern of the word. This can be illustrated by the semantic analysis of different words composed of phonemically identical morphemes with identical lexical meaning. The words finger-ring and ring-finger, e.g., contain two morphemes, the combined lexical meaning of which is the same; the difference in the meaning of these words can be accounted for by the difference in the arrangement of the component morphemes.

If we can observe a direct connection between the structural pattern of the word and its meaning, we say that this word is motivated. Consequently words such as singer, rewrite, eatable, etc., are described as motivated. If the connection between the structure of the lexical unit and its meaning is completely arbitrary and conventional, we speak of non-motivated or idiomatic words, e.g. matter, repeat.

It should be noted in passing that morphological motivation is “relative”, i.e. the degree of motivation may be different. Between the extremes of complete motivation and lack of motivation, there exist various grades of partial motivation. The word endless, e.g., is completely motivated as both the lexical meaning of the component morphemes and the meaning of the pattern is perfectly transparent. The word cranberry is only partially motivated because of the absence of the lexical meaning in the morpheme cran-.

One more point should be noted in connection with the problem in question. A synchronic approach to morphological motivation presupposes historical changeability of structural patterns and the ensuing degree of motivation. Some English place-names may serve as an illustration. Such place-names as Newtowns and Wildwoods are lexically and structurally motivated and may be easily analysed into component morphemes. Other place-names, e.g. Essex, Norfolk, Sutton, are non-motivated. To the average English speaker these names are non-analysable lexical units like sing or tell. However, upon examination the student of language history will perceive their components to be East+Saxon, North+Folk and South+Town which shows that in earlier days they .were just as completely motivated as Newtowns or Wildwoods are in Modern English.

Motivation is usually thought of as proceeding from form or structure to meaning. Morphological motivation as discussed above implies a direct connection between the morphological structure of the word and its meaning. Some linguists, however, argue that words can be motivated in more than one way and suggest another type of motivation which may be described as a direct connection between the phonetical structure of the word and its meaning. It is argued that speech sounds may suggest spatial and visual dimensions, shape, size, etc. Experiments carried out by a group of linguists showed that back open vowels are suggestive of big size, heavy weight, dark colour, etc. The experiments were repeated many times and the results were always the same. Native speakers of English were asked to listen to pairs of antonyms from an unfamiliar (or non-existent) language unrelated to English, e.g. ching – chung and then to try to find the English equivalents, e.g. light – heavy, big – small, etc.), which foreign word translates which English word. About 90 per cent of English speakers felt that ching is the equivalent of the English light (small) and chung of its antonym heavy (large).

It is also pointed out that this type of phonetical motivation may be observed in the phonemic structure of some newly coined words. For example, the small transmitter that specialises in high frequencies is called ‘a tweeter’, the transmitter for low frequences ‘a woofer’.

Another type of phonetical motivation is represented by such words as swish, sizzle, boom, splash, etc. These words may be defined as phonetically motivated because the soundclusters [swi∫, sizl, bum, splæ∫] are a direct imitation of the sounds these words denote. It is also suggested that sounds themselves may be emotionally expressive which accounts for the phonetical motivation in certain words. Initial [f] and [p], e.g., are felt as expressing scorn, contempt, disapproval or disgust which can be illustrated by the words pooh! fie! fiddle-sticks, flim-flam and the like. The sound-cluster [iŋ] is imitative of sound or swift movement as can be seen in words ring, sing, swing, fling, etc. Thus, phonetically such words may be considered motivated.

This hypothesis seems to require verification. This of course is not to deny that there are some words which involve phonetical symbolism: these are the onomatopoeic, imitative or echoic words such as the English cuckoo, splash and whisper: And even these are not completely motivated but seem to be conventional to quite a large extent (cf. кукареку and cock-a-doodle-doo). In any case words like these constitute only a small and untypical minority in the language. As to symbolic value of certain sounds, this too is disproved by the fact that identical sounds and sound-clusters may be found in words of widely different meaning, e.g. initial [p] and [f], are found in words expressing contempt and disapproval (fie, pooh) and also in such words as ploughs fine, and others. The sound-cluster [in] which is supposed to be imitative of sound or swift movement (ring, swing) is also observed in semantically different words, e.g. thing, king, and others.

The term motivation is also used by a number of linguists to denote the relationship between the central and the coexisting meaning or meanings of a word which are understood as a metaphorical extension of the central meaning. Metaphorical extension may be viewed as generalisation of the denotational meaning of a word permitting it to include new referents which are in some way like the original class of referents. Similarity of various aspects and/or functions of different classes of referents may account for the semantic motivation of a number of minor meanings. For example, a woman who has given birth is called a mother; by extension, any act that gives birth is associated with being a mother, e.g. in Necessity is the mother of invention. The same principle can be observed in other meanings: a mother looks after a child, so that we can say She became a mother to her orphan nephew, or Romulus and Remus were supposedly mothered by a wolf. Such metaphoric extension may be observed in the so-called trite metaphors, such as burn with anger, break smb’s heart, jump at a chance, etc.

If metaphorical extension is observed in the relationship of the central and a minor word meaning it is often observed in the relationship between its synonymic or antonymic meanings. Thus, a few years ago the phrases a meeting at the summit, a summit meeting appeared in the newspapers.

Cartoonists portrayed the participants of such summit meetings sitting on mountain tops. Now when lesser diplomats confer the talks are called foothill meetings. In this way both summit and its antonym foothill undergo the process of metaphorical extension.


 

Chapter 4. Word meaning and meaning in morphemes

In modern linguistics it is more or less universally recognised that the smallest two-facet language unit possessing both sound-form and meaning is the morpheme. Yet, whereas the phono-morphological structure of language has been subjected to a thorough linguistic analysis, the problem of types of meaning and semantic peculiarities of morphemes has not been properly investigated. A few points of interest, however, may be mentioned in connection with some recent observations in “this field.

It is generally assumed that one of the semantic features of some morphemes which distinguishes them from words is that they do not possess grammatical meaning. Comparing the word man, e.g., and the morpheme man-(in manful, manly, etc.) we see that we cannot find in this morpheme the grammatical meaning of case and number observed in the word man. Morphemes are consequently regarded as devoid of grammatical meaning.

Many English words consist of a single root-morpheme, so when we say that most morphemes possess lexical meaning we imply mainly the root-morphemes in such words. It may be easily observed that the lexical meaning of the word boy and the lexical meaning of the root-morpheme boy — in such words as boyhood, boyish and others is very much the same.

Just as in words lexical meaning in morphemes may also be analysed into denotational and connotational components. The connotational component of meaning may be found not only in root-morphemes but in affixational morphemes as well. Endearing and diminutive suffixes, e.g. -ette (kitchenette), -ie(y) (dearie, girlie), -ling (duckling), clearly bear a heavy emotive charge. Comparing the derivational morphemes with the same denotational meaning we see that they sometimes differ in connotation only. The morphemes, e.g. -ly, -like, -ish, have the denotational meaning of similarity in the words womanly, womanlike, womanish, the connotational component, however, differs and ranges from the positive evaluation in -ly (womanly) to the derogatory in -ish (womanish): Stylistic reference may also be found in morphemes of different types. The stylistic value of such derivational morphemes as, e.g. -ine (chlorine), -oid (rhomboid), -escence (effervescence) is clearly perceived to be bookish or scientific.

The lexical meaning of the affixal morphemes is, as a rule, of a more generalising character. The suffix -er, e.g. carries the meaning ‘the agent, the doer of the action’, the suffix-less denotes lack or absence of something. It should also be noted that the root-morphemes do not “possess the part-of-speech meaning (cf. manly, manliness, to man); in derivational morphemes the lexical and the part-of-speech meaning may be so blended as to be almost inseparable. In the derivational morphemes -er and -less discussed above the lexical meaning is just as clearly perceived as their part-of-speech meaning. In some morphemes, however, for instance -ment or -ous (as in movement or laborious), it is the part-of-speech meaning that prevails, the lexical meaning is but vaguely felt.

In some cases the functional meaning predominates. The morpheme -ice in the word justice, e.g., seems to serve principally to transfer the part-of-speech meaning of the morpheme just – into another class and namely that of noun. It follows that some morphemes possess only the functional meaning, i.e. they are the carriers of part-of-speech meaning.

Besides the types of meaning proper both to words and morphemes the latter may possess specific meanings of their own, namely the differential and the distributional meanings. Differential meaning is the semantic component that serves to distinguish one word from all others containing identical morphemes. In words consisting of two or more morphemes, one of the constituent morphemes always has differential meaning. In such words as, e. g., bookshelf, the morpheme -shelf serves to distinguish the word from other words containing the morpheme book-, e.g. from bookcase, book-counter and so on. In other compound words, e.g. notebook, the morpheme note- will be seen to possess the differential meaning which distinguishes notebook from exercisebook, copybook, etc. It should be clearly understood that denotational and differential meanings are not mutually exclusive. Naturally the morpheme -shelf in bookshelf possesses denotational meaning which is the dominant component of meaning. There are cases, however, when it is difficult or even impossible to assign any denotational meaning to the morpheme, e.g. cran- in cranberry, yet it clearly bears a relationship to the meaning of the word as a whole through the differential component (cranberry and blackberry, gooseberry) which in this particular case comes to the fore. One of the disputable points of morphological analysis is whether such words as deceive, receive, perceive consist of two component morphemes. If we assume, however, that the morpheme -ceive may be singled out it follows that the meaning of the morphemes re-, per, de- is exclusively differential, as, at least synchronically, there is no denotational meaning proper to them.

Distributional meaning is the meaning of the order and arrangement of morphemes making up the word. It is found in all words containing more than one morpheme. The word singer, e.g., is composed of two morphemes sing- and -er both of which possess the denotational meaning and namely ‘to make musical sounds’ (sing-) and ‘the doer of the action’ (-er). There is one more element of meaning, however, that enables us to understand the word and that is the pattern of arrangement of the component morphemes. A different arrangement of the same morphemes, e.g. *ersing, would make the word meaningless. Compare also boyishness and *nessishboy in which a different pattern of arrangement of the three morphemes boy-ish-ness turns it into a meaningless string of sounds.


 

Conclusion

So in this work word-meaning is viewed as closely connected but not identical with either the sound-form of the word or with its referent. Proceeding from the basic assumption of the objectivity of language and from the understanding of linguistic units as two-facet entities we regard meaning as the inner facet of the word, inseparable from its outer facet which is indispensable to the existence of meaning and to intercommunication.

The two main types of word-meaning are the grammatical and the lexical meanings found in all words. The interrelation of these two types of meaning may be different in different groups of words. Lexical meaning is viewed as possessing denotational and connotational components. The denotational component is actually what makes communication possible. The connotational component comprises the stylistic reference and the emotive charge proper to the word as a linguistic unit in the given language system. The subjective emotive implications acquired by words in speech lie outside the semantic structure of words as they may vary from speaker to speaker but are not proper to words as units of language.

Lexical meaning with its denotational and connotational components may be found in morphemes of different types. The denotational meaning in affixal morphemes may be rather vague and abstract, the lexical meaning and the part-of-speech meaning tending to blend.

It is suggested that in addition to lexical meaning morphemes may contain specific types of meaning: differential, functional and distributional.

We pointed out different motivations. Morphological motivation implies a direct connection between the lexical meaning of the component morphemes, the pattern of their arrangement and the meaning of the word. The degree of morphological motivation may be different varying from the extreme of complete motivation to lack of motivation. Phonetical motivation implies a direct connection between the phonetic structure of the word and its meaning. Phonetical motivation is not universally recognised in modern linguistic science. Semantic motivation implies a direct connection between the central and marginal meanings of the word. This connection may be regarded as a metaphoric extension of the central meaning based on the similarity of different classes of referents denoted by the word.


 

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