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Flashcards in Semantics & Pragmatics Deck (27)
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Additional meaning which arises due to the associations a word has.



The relationship between a word and the non-linguistic, 'outside' world. For instance one could say that the denotation of cup is a small vessel-like object for holding beverages.



A reference to certain adjectives which can show a degree of a quality rather than presence or absence, for instance small is gradable as one can say 'quite small', 'fairly small'. This term contrasts explicitly with non-gradable.



Any two (or more) words which are written the same, though the pronunciation may be different, e.g. lead, a verb, and lead, a noun.



Any set of words which share their form but have different meanings, e.g. bar 'legal profession' and bar 'public house'. The formal similarity is an accident of phonological development and the forms do not share a common historical root, contrast this situation with that of polysemy.



A set of words which always co-occur and where the meaning is not necessarily derived by concatenating the individual parts of the idiom, e.g to take coals to Newcastle 'to do something entirely superfluous'.


indirect speech act

Any utterance where there is a discrepancy between literal and intended meaning, e.g. It's cold in here said in a room with the window open in winter where the intention of the speech act would be to have the window closed.


lexical meaning

The meaning of a word which is specifiable independently of other words — ultimately with reference to the non-linguistic world — and which is independent of the grammar of the language.


meaning, grammatical

A type of meaning which is determined by the grammatical context in which a form occurs. Typical elements with grammatical meaning are prepositions, articles or conjunctions.


meaning, lexical

A type of meaning which is specifiable independently of other words or of grammatical context. The lexical meaning of table is 'a piece of furniture with a horizontal surface designed to be sat at'.


meaning, sentence

A further type of meaning in which the sentence structure together with lexical and grammatical meaning determines what is meant. For instance the sentence role of a noun as subject or object is significant in determining the meaning of an entire sentence.


meaning, utterance

A kind of meaning which refers to the context in which a sentence is spoken and where the latter determines what is actually meant, for instance the sentence It's draughty in here can be taken to have utterance meaning as a request to close a window or door; see indirect speech act.



The study of language in use in interpersonal communication. Apart from the purely linguistic approach there is a philosophical type of pragmatics, as developed in the late 19th century by American philosophers such as William James and Charles Peirce.



Any information which is taken for granted in a discourse situation, for instance the sentence Did you enjoy your breakfast? assumes that the interlocutor already had breakfast.



A statement which can be assessed as being true or false, e.g. The sun is shining contains the proposition that 'the celestial body at the centre of the solar system is casting its light directly on the surface of the earth' and in any given situation this statement is either true or false.



Any term which serves to indicate an amount such as all, some, a few, or the set of numerals in a language.


semantic field

A collective term for sets of meanings which are taken to belong together, e.g. colour, furniture, food, clothes. Most of the vocabulary of any language is organised into such fields, i.e. there are few if any words which are semantically isolated.



The study of meaning in language. This is an independent level and has several subtypes, such as word, grammatical, sentence and utterance meaning.


sense relations

The semantic relationships which obtain between words as opposed to those which hold between words and the outside world.



A linguistic item which signifies something; contrasts with signifié which is what is signified. The term derives from Ferdinand de Saussure.


speech act

The act of speaking with another individual. This has become a discipline in its own right since the pioneering work of Austin in the early 1960's. It was put on a firm linguistic footing by Searle at the end of the decade and has since become part of the standard repertoire of all linguists.



A word which is taken to have the same meaning as one or more other words. The collocations in which words occur may — indeed usually do — differ as seen with cranium and skull which are distinguished according to register: the former is a medical term, the latter an everyday one.



That part of a sentence which is the focus of interest and usually introduced at the beginning.



A term applied to the new information conveyed in a sentence.



A reference to any linguistic form which is the most general and least specific of its kind. For instance the present tense is unmarked vis à vis the subjunctive, the nominative vis à vis the genitive, the singular vis à vis the plural, a positive form (clean) vis à vis a negative one (unclean), unround front vowels vis à vis rounded front vowels, etc. Forms which are unmarked in this conceptual sense tend indeed to be formally less marked, i.e. the plural usually involves the addition of an ending, the genitive has more phonetic substance than the nominative, etc.



Any stretch of spoken speech, a sentence or phrase with emphasis on the characteristics of the spoken medium in contrast either with the written form or with more abstract forms of a linguistic analysis.



is the study of meaning in language.