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1. 3. The Interaction of Meanings and Functions
Key words: • interaction, academic scholarly writing, general scientific vocabulary, stock meanings, meanings in context, metaphors we live by, conventional items, creative individual metaphors, dictionary meanings, ‘static’ and dynamic’ dimensions, core primary meanings, ‘dynamic’ uses
What is the difference between intellective writing (non-fiction) and fiction? • In intellective communication the speaker’s or writer’s aim is to pass on information while in fiction the writer is concerned chiefly with the way the utterance is arranged or constructed, the poetic function of language as well as all kinds of additional expressive-emotionalevaluative overtones coming to the fore.
What is the best example of informative style? • The best example of ‘informative language’ is the academic scholarly writing. It presents the general scientific vocabulary which systematically covers the main stages in the development of research; e. g. the subject of research, methods of investigation, convincing evidence, to collect the data, to make conclusions, to solve a problem, etc.
What are stock meanings of words opposed to? Illustrate with examples. • On the lexical level we can single out stock meanings of words and meanings in context. • See the example p. 37 (strike) • Another example of stock meanings and uses is ‘metaphors we live by”, ‘speech formulas”, “fixed-form expressions” or “phrasal lexical items” (p. 37)
What is the difference between metaphors we live by and creative individual metaphors? • Metaphors we live by are typical ways of talking about things in everyday situations. They belong to the commonly shared body of English vocabulary. These conventional items should be kept apart from creative individual metaphors of the writers of fiction.
What is the dictionary meaning of words? What is not registered in the dictionary? • Dictionary meanings (the semantic structure of the word fixed in dictionaries) are only part of the actual picture when it comes to using words in communication. When used in different contexts they may have additional shades of meaning which are not registered in the dictionary. Here we can speak of the interaction of meanings and functions.
Which meanings are static? What are ‘free meanings’? • The semantics of the word has both ‘static’ and dynamic’ dimensions (aspects). ‘Conventionalised’ meanings are static as they remain part of the word’s semantic structure. Dynamic-creative meanings are extensions of the word’s semantic potential. They are ‘free meanings’.
What are the two types of meanings realized in any text? • Almost any text includes both types. On the one hand, there are words used in their core primary meanings which serve to introduce the subject, to tell the story, to give the reader the factual information. On the other hand, there are ‘dynamic’ uses which express the speaker’s individual views.
How does the tendency towards ‘dynamic’ uses change in terms of genres? • In a variety of genres (1 academic scholarly prose, 2 journalism, 3 essays) different types of lexical items will prevail. The meanings of words are affected by the genre of the utterance, the type of discourse and functional style. The number of dynamic uses increases as we pass on from ‘the informative’ to ‘the imaginative’. The tendency towards individuality culminates in genres based on aesthetic impact.
1. 4. REGISTERS: SPOKEN/ WRITTEN, FORMAL/ INFORMAL VARIETIES OF ENGLISH
Key words: • Functional styles, academic discourse, register, formal/ informal, written and spoken varieties, feedback, interlocutor, human voice, dialogue, monologue, specific vocabulary, semantic and communicative appropriateness, stylistic values of words, conceptual space, functional-communicative space
What is a functional style? Give examples • Functional styles refer to major varieties of language such as the functional style of fiction, academic discourse, everyday speech. However, the main dichotomy in terms of functional styles is formed by the opposition of the informative and the imaginative, something that has a specific literary value and something that is aimed at passing on some factual information.
What is a register? Give examples • Register is a variety related to a particular use of the language, a particular subject or occupation. It is a situationally distinct use. Registers can be associated with speech acts in which words not only express meanings but also perform functions, i. e. ‘do things’; e. g. in conversation the speaker’s first duty is to establish contact with the listener and hence they use: you know, by the way, I see, anyway, well, etc.
What is the role of register features in communication? • Semantically there can be a number of ways of referring to a given thing or event, but in communication the options are reduced to a single variety depending on the situation. Our messages are worded differently depending on the immediate social situation. The relationship between speaker and listener in terms of age difference, social status, degrees of intimacy is associated with levels of style such as formal/ informal. Another relevant feature is the distinction between written and spoken varieties.
What are the principal differences between written and spoken varieties of language? • Depending on the purpose of communication written and spoken varieties can be singled out within vocabulary. The situation in which the spoken variety is used and in which it develops, can be described as the presence of the listener or the interlocutor. Therefore there is always the possibility of feedback between the speaker and the listener. The written variety presupposes the absence of the interlocutor; communication is one way only. There is no feedback during the interchange.
What are the principal differences between written and spoken varieties of language? • The spoken language is maintained in the form of a dialogue, the written – in the form of a monologue. The spoken language has a considerable advantage over the written in that the human voice comes into play. Human voice, all kinds of gestures, intonation give additional information. The written language is more formal than the spoken one and has a more specific vocabulary.
What do we mean by semantic and communicative appropriateness of words? • It is taken for granted that the right choice of words depends not only on their meanings but also on their semantic and communicative appropriateness in a given context. There are certain types of text and communicative functions to which lexical items are appropriate. Words are conventionally associated with a particular type of situations and registers. Every register has its own vocabulary but at the same time register features are also embraced by words as part of their semantic content.
How are dictionaries helpful in choosing an appropriate word? • The stylistic values of words, such as literary, slang, old use etc have always been indicated in most unilingual dictionaries. However more subtle distinctions are only found in some of the latest editions, like LLA, for example. It specifies the typical contexts and patterns of usage with which words are commonly linked and which become a feature of their semantic content. (examples p. 43) • Semantic and functional peculiarities of words can be specified with respect to the frequency of their usage in particular registers.
What is the conceptual space of the word? • The conceptual space is the fragment of reality which is covered by a given word; its semantics or denotation: what it denotes; e. g. sprinkler 1 a piece of equipment used for scattering water on grass or soil 2 a piece of equipment on a ceiling that scatters water if there is a fire
What is the functionalcommunicative space of the word? • The functional-communicative space is the characteristics of the word in terms of registers. The communicative space is the register and the speech situation covered by the lexical item. (providential-lucky; p 45)