1. The subject of semantics and other fields of linguistics. Semantics as a branch of Linguistics

A. The subject of semantics and other fields of linguistics

Semantics (from Ancient Greek:  sēmantikós, "significant") is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relationship between signifiers—like words, phrases, signs, and symbols—and what they stand for, their denotation.

Linguistic semantics is the study of meaning that is used for understanding human expression through language. Other forms of semantics include the semantics of programming languages, formal logics, and semiotics. In international scientific vocabulary semantics is also called semasiology.

The word semantics was first used by Michel Bréal, a French philologist. It denotes a range of ideas—from the popular to the highly technical. It is often used in ordinary language for denoting a problem of understanding that comes down to word selection or connotation. This problem of understanding has been the subject of many formal enquiries, over a long period of time, especially in the field of formal semantics. In linguistics, it is the study of the interpretation of signs or symbols used in agents or communities within particular circumstances and contexts. Within this view, sounds, facial expressions, body language, and proxemics have semantic (meaningful) content, and each comprises several branches of study. In written language, things like paragraph structure and punctuation bear semantic content; other forms of language bear other semantic content.

The formal study of semantics intersects with many other fields of inquiry, including lexicology, syntax, pragmatics, etymology and others. Independently, semantics is also a well-defined field in its own right, often with synthetic properties. In the philosophy of language, semantics and reference are closely connected. Further related fields include philology, communication, and semiotics. The formal study of semantics can therefore be manifold and complex.

Semantics contrasts with syntax, the study of the combinatorics of units of a language (without reference to their meaning), and pragmatics, the study of the relationships between the symbols of a language, their meaning, and the users of the language. Semantics as a field of study also has significant ties to various representational theories of meaning including truth theories of meaning, coherence theories of meaning, and correspondence theories of meaning. Each of these is related to the general philosophical study of reality and the representation of meaning.

B. Semantics as a branch of Linguistics - ilinguisticssemantics is the subfield that is devoted to the study of meaning, as inherent at the levels of words, phrases, sentences, and larger units of discourse (termed texts, or narratives). The study of semantics is also closely linked to the subjects of representation, reference and denotation. The basic study of semantics is oriented to the examination of the meaning of signs, and the study of relations between different linguistic units and compoundshomonymysynonymyantonymyhypernymyhyponymy,meronymymetonymyholonymy, paronyms. A key concern is how meaning attaches to larger chunks of text, possibly as a result of the composition from smaller units of meaning. Traditionally, semantics has included the study of sense and denotative reference,truth conditions, argument structure, thematic rolesdiscourse analysis, and the linkage of all of these to syntax.


2. Phonological, syntactic and semantic level of language

It is common procedure to treat the various levels of language separately (this is how they are treated in textbooks on linguistics, including this one). This has the tuitional advantage that one can deal with them concisely and neatly in separate sittings of a course. However, one should emphasise that the division is not something people are usually aware of when speaking. Because of this they do not always expect language to be divided into levels in linguistics. Arguments in favour of the psychological reality of the different levels can be put forward, for example by showing that the rules of phonology are quite separate from those of syntax despite the interface which exists between the two levels. These matters will be touched on presently.
1) Phonetics, Phonology - this is the level of sounds. One must distinguish here the set of possible human sounds, which constitutes the area of phonetics proper, and the set of system sounds used in a given human language, which constitutes the area of phonology. Phonology is concerned with classifying the sounds of language and with saying how the subset used in a particular language is utilised, for instance what distinctions in meaning can be made on the basis of what sounds.

2) Morphology - this is the level of words and endings, to put it in simplified terms. It is what one normally understands by grammar (along with syntax). The term morphology refers to the analysis of minimal forms in language which are, however, themselves comprised of sounds and which are used to construct Raymond Hickey Levels of language Page 3 of 115 words which have either a grammatical or a lexical function. Lexicology is concerned with the study of the lexicon from a formal point of view and is thus closely linked to (derivational) morphology.

3) Syntax - this is the level of sentences. It is concerned with the meaning of words in combination with each other to form phrases or sentences. In particular it involves differences in meaning arrived at by changes in word order, the addition or subtraction of words from sentences or changes in the form of sentences. It furthermore deals with the relatedness of different sentence types and with the analysis of ambiguous sentences. Language typology attempts to classify languages according to high-order principles of morphology and syntax and to make sets of generalisations across different languages irrespective of their genetic affiliations, i.e. of what language family they belong to.

4) Semantics - this is the area of meaning. It might be thought that semantics is covered by the areas of morphology and syntax, but it is quickly seen that this level needs to be studied on its own to have a proper perspective on meaning in language. Here one touches, however, on practically every other level of language as well as there exists lexical, grammatical, sentence and utterance meaning.

5) Pragmatics - the concern here is with the use of language in specific situations. The meaning of sentences need not be the same in an abstract form and in practical use. In the latter case one speaks of utterance meaning. The area of pragmatics relies strongly for its analyses on the notion of speech act which is concerned with the actual performance of language. This involves the notion of proposition – roughly the content of a sentence – and the intent and effect of an utterance.

3. System and structure of semantics

4. Levels of Language Representation and Their Basic Units (Phonetic, syntactic and semantic representation)

A. Levels of Language Representation

Primary Disciplines
- phonetics and phonology, conc. with the sound: the lowest level; phonology established as a discipline in the 20th c. by the Prague Linguistic Circle
- morphology and syntax, or morpho-syntax, conc. with the grammar: syntax sometimes as an upper form of morphology, in the analytical non-inflectional E very closely connected
- lexicology, conc. with the vocabulary
+ semantics, conc. with the meaning: present in all the levels, impossible to isolate it

Secondary Disciplines
- pragmatics: the infl. of situation on the interpretation of utterances (i.e. the organisation of a text according to the communicative intention of a speaker)
- stylistics: the variations in different situations and different styles of speech
- dialectology: the variations in the same language in different region; often as a branch of sociolinguistics
- sociolinguistics: the interaction btw language and society
- psycholinguistics: the behaviour of human beings in their production and perception of language; from the half of the 20th c.
- etymology
+ language acquisition: children’s acquisition of their 1st language
+ applied linguistics: the acquisition of a 2nd language
(1.3) Phonetics and Phonology
- both describe the sounds + the combinatory possibilities of the sounds and the prosody of the language (how pitch, loudness and length work to produce accent, rhythm, and intonation)

B. Phonetics
- describes the speech sounds that occur in the languages of the world
- conc. with the concrete characteristics of the sounds (articulatory, acoustic, auditory)
- determines the nature of the sounds, their patterns, and aspects of the sounds necessary for conveying the meaning
- phone = the basic unit of phonetics, the smallest identifiable unit found in a stream of speech that is able to be transcribed with an IPA symbol, a concrete realisation of a phoneme
- allophone = a phonetic variant of a phoneme in a particular language, the basis for narrow phonetic transcription []

- describes the systems and patterns of sounds in a language
- conc. with the function of the sounds in a systemic way in a particular language
- determines its distinctive sounds, establishes a set of rules to describe the changes in these sounds in different relationships with other sounds
- the phonology of a language = the set of rules describing the changes in the underlying sounds (or, phonemes) occurring in speech
- phonemics = the traditional approach to phonology, analyses the stream of speech into a sequence of contrastive segments ("contrastive" = "contrasting with other segments which might change the meaning")
- phoneme = the basic unit of phonology, an abstract unit, not a single sound but a group of sounds used to differentiate words
- the smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language, defined according to its allophones and environments (American structuralist tradition) or as a set of distinctive features (generative tradition)
- the basis for writing down a language to record the variations btw sounds used to differentiate meaning = broad phonemic transcription //
- a word can be realised by a single phoneme (e.g. I, oh, ah)

C. Morphology
- a part of grammar
- morphology = conc. with the word form, inner structure of the word and word formation
- syntax = conc. with the sentence
- x a close connection btw morphology and syntax: morphological forms one of the means of expressing syntactic relations

Units of Morphology
- word = a unit of the morphological level
- word as a means of naming: a unit of the lexical level
- word as a part of a sentence: a unit of the syntactic level
- x a word form = a specifically morphological unit
- morpheme (a part of langue) = the basic unit of morphology
- morph (a part of parole) = a concrete realisation of a morpheme in case of an only one possibility of realisation
- allomorph (a part of parole) = a concrete realisation of a morpheme in case of more possibilities of realisation
- monomorphematic words = realised by a single morpheme (door, look, fault)
- x polymorphematic words

- free morphemes
(a) functional: synsemantic words = their grammatical meaning realised only within the context (AUX do, proform you)
(b) lexical: autosemantic words (look)
- bound morphemes: cannot exist alone, bound with free lexical morphemes, realised by affixes, i.e. prefixes and suffixes
(a) derivational: create a new word fitting into a new word category, contribute to the modification of meaning (happy > happi|ness)
(b) inflectional: create a new form within the same paradigm (dog > dog|s)
- morphological homonymy = the same morpheme used in different functions (-s > possessive, plural, 3rd person sg simple present tense)
- morphological synonymy = the same function expressed by different allomorphs (plural > -s, -es, -en, 0, alternation of a stem vowel)

D. Syntax
 - a part of grammar
- conc. with the word categories and the set of rules governing the structure of phrases, clauses and sentences in terms of order and constituency
- units of syntax: sentence, phrase, syntagma, sentence member

- sentence = a formation ordered according to the particular language specific rules, an abstract language unit (a part of langue)
- utterance = a communicative discourse unit, a concrete realisation of a particular sentence type (a part of parole)
- sentence structure
(a) simple: with a single predication
(b) non-simple = composite: with more predications
(a') compound sentence (souv. souřadné): paratactic relation, i.e. relation of coordination
(b') complex sentence (souv. podřadné): hypotactic relation, i.e. relation of subordination
(c') multiple sentence (souv. složené)
- clause = a part of a composite sentence
- main, superordinate, clause
- dependent, subordinate, clause

- a couple with a relation based on domination x but: one member does not need to govern the other
- phrasal grammar founded by N. Chomsky
- immediate constituent analysis (Structuralism): sentence made up by NP – MOD/AUX (NEG) – VP, other phrases of lower rank AJP, AdvP, PP
(1.5.3) Syntagma
- a couple within a sentence with a relation based on domination, one clausal constituent governs the other

Sentence Member (= Sentence Element)
- sentence function
- obligatory sentence members: subject => no subjectless clauses in E (unlike in CZ)
- non-obligatory (= facultative) sentence elements: all the others

E. Lexicology
- conc. with the vocabulary (= lexis)
- describes the vocabulary and establ. a system
- lexicology: an open system with a number of subsystems
- grammar and pronunciation: closed systems

Concepts of Lexicology
- vocabulary always refers to sth existing
- the extralinguistic reality = things, people or ideas, its main feature is vagueness
- reality processed in its essential features by human consciousness as a concept
- concept (= denotation) = a unit of thinking, an abstraction forming the nucleus of the lexical meaning (= the cognitive meaning)
- concept (pojem): a term from psychology x meaning (význam): a linguistic term
- notion (představa): a term from psychology, more subjective than concept (a child's notion of water is different from a scientist's notion x their concept basically the same)
- NO direct relationship btw the word and the item of extralinguistic reality, btw the form and its content (= meaning): words do not name (nepojmenovávají) or signify (neznamenají) objects, they only refer to them
- the naming of an object based on convention = arbitrary naming

Units of Lexicology
- lexeme = a lexical unit or lexical item
(a) the word realised by several morphological words (do, does, did, done, doing as five "versions" of the one verb do)
(b) the word composite in structure (throw out, stamp collector, take part), word-formation clusters and phrasal clusters as know a thing or two, be in the know, etc.
- word: as an element of speech language-specific (Latin amaverunt = two or three words in E they loved, they have loved)
(a) phonological words
(b) orthographic words (before the rules of spelling became stabilised, merry was also spelled myry, myrie, murie, mery)
(a) full word = content word
(b) grammatical (= function, structure, form) word: AUX, COP, CONJ, DET, PRON, particle

F.  Semantics
- conc. with the meaning of words, the relationship btw their meanings and the way such meanings are combined to give the meaning of sentences

Disciplines Analysing the Meaning
- semantics: more or less synonymous with semasiology
- semasiology: proceeds from word to concept (dictionaries)
- onomasiology: proceeds from concept to word (thesauruses)
- semiotics: studies and analyses signs (= sth that stand for sth else) and symbols (= partly arbitrary signs accepted by society; cross = suffering and Christianity) as part of communication

Components of Meaning
- denotation (= cognitive meaning): a finite set of discrete features of meaning
- connotation
(a) expressivity: an affective element
(b) stylistic value: neutral, poetic, formal, informal, slang, taboo, technical
(c) associations: reminders of other meaning
- collocability: semantic and syntactic cohesiveness, the way the words are linked
- inner form: the word-structure
- integration in the lexical subsystem

Analysis into Semantic Elements
(a) encyclopaedic approach: distinguishes btw the centre and the periphery only (E – E dictionary)
(b) semantic analysis: decomposition into semantic elements > s. components > semantic features > classification semes etc. (concrete or abstract? if concrete, individual or mass? if individual, animate or inanimate? etc.)
- structural semantics: conc. with the language as a structure to be analysed => conc. with the semantic analysis
- sememe: a semantic unit; a set of meanings of a polysemantic word or a single meaning with a monosemantic word
- seme: the smallest basic semantic unit; an abstraction of semantic components constituting the meaning

5. Lexical semantics

Lexical semantics (also known as lexicosemantics), is a subfield of linguisticsemantics. The units of analysis in lexical semantics are lexical units which include not only words but also sub-words or sub-units such as affixes and even compound words and phrases. Lexical units make up the catalogue of words in a language, the lexicon. Lexical semantics looks at how the meaning of the lexical units correlates with the structure of the language or syntax. This is referred to as syntax-semantic interface.

The study of lexical semantics looks at: 
- the classification and decomposition of lexical items
- the differences and similarities in lexical semantic structure cross-linguistically
- the relationship of lexical meaning to sentence meaning and syntax.

Lexical units, also referred to as syntactic atoms, can stand alone such as in the case of root words or parts of compound words or they necessarily attach to other units such as prefixes and suffixes do. The former are called free morphemes and the latter bound morphemes. They fall into a narrow range of meanings (semantic fields) and can combine with each other to generate new meanings.

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