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Types of Meaning

Semantics as one of the branches of pure linguistics is simply defined as the study of meaning in language. before going any further, first thing that you have to know is the word meaning itself, which becomes the focus of this study. Ferdinand de Saussure, one of the structuralism scholars introduces seven dichotomies in the effort to understand language, one of them is signifiant and signifie dichotomy. The first term refers to the form of language which is involved in a collection of phonemes, or in other words signifiant is the acoustic form of language or the basic form of phonological system of a language. Meanwhile, the second term refers to the mental image of a language, mental image refers to the intended meaning of it. De Saussure tried to tell us that in a language there must be symbols and thing that it's symbolized. The symbol can be so vary, it can be written, oral, and image, and the things  represented by those symbols are generally called meaning.

There are at least seven types of meaning (many linguists state their different categories of meaning) in semantic according Geoffrey Leech (1974), those are:

1. Conceptual meaning (logical, cognitive, or denotative content)
It refers to the dictionary meaning which indicates the concepts. In reading we can find many different words have the same conceptual meanings. Take the word walk as an example, the conceptual meaning or the primary dictionary meaning is to move forward by placing one foot in front of the other. There are also a few other words that, according to the dictionary, mean to move forward on foot, etc.

2. Connotative meaning (what is communicated by virtue of what language refers to)
It refers to the associations that are connected to a certain word or the emotional suggestions related to that word. The connotative meanings of a word exist together with the denotative meanings. The connotations for the word snake could include evil or danger.

3. Social meaning (what is communicated of the social circumstances of language use)
It refers to the usage of language in and by society which has big proportions in determining the meaning that certain speaker has to use and wants to convey, those factors include social class of the speaker and hearer and the degree of formality. Only part of the social meaning of a conversation is carried by words. Take saying hello or talking about the weather. Often such talk has little dictionary meaning. It is a way of being friendly or polite.

4. Affective meaning (what is communicated of the feeling and attitudes of the speaker/writer)
It refers to the speaker’s feeling / attitude towards the content or the ongoing context.It is important to remember that each individual will have a different affective meaning for a word. As such, only the person using a word will be aware of the particular affective meaning that they hold with the word. For example, we can discuss the word winter further. The word winter denotatively refers to a time period during which either the northern or southern hemisphere is furthest away from the sun.Different use of stress and intonation also provides a striking contrast in the feelings and attitudes communicated through an utterance.

5. Reflected meaning (what is communicated through association with another sense of the same expression)
It refers to terms which have more than one meaning surfaces at the same time, so there is a kind of ambiguity. It is as if one or more unintended meanings were inevitably thrown back rather like light or sound reflected on a surface. For instance, if I use the medical expression chronic bronchitis, it is difficult for the more colloquial emotive meaning of chronic, 'bad,' not to intrude as well. . . . Sometimes, such coincidental, 'unwanted' meanings cause us to change a lexical item for another.

6. Collocative meaning (what is communicated through association with words which tend to occur in the environment of another word)
It refers to the associations a word acquires on account   of   the   meanings of words which tend to occur in its environment.In other words, it is that part of the word-meaning suggested by the words that go before or come after a word in question, for instance, heavy news (a piece of sad news); heavy schedule (a very tight schedule); fast color (the color that does not fade); fast friend (a reliable friend); fast woman (a lady of easy virtue), etc.

7. Thematic meaning (what is communicated by the way in which the message is organized in terms of order and emphasis).
It relates to or constitutes a topic of discourse, the meaning that the word conveys is that of something that is connected with the theme of something
Types 2-6 are also categorized as associative meaning.

According to Charles Morris, there are three types of meanings: referential meaning (the relationship between signs and entities in the world), pragmatic meaning (the relationship between signs and their users; it includes identificational meaning, expressive meaning, associative meaning, social meaning, and imperative meaning), and intralingual meaning (the relationship between different signs; it includes phonological meaning, graphemic meaning, morphological or lexemic meaning, syntactic meaning, and discoursal or textual meaning).
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  1. It has been really helpful to me thanks. Please you need to acknoledge sources and do biblography of your work.

  2. thank you! but i think its better to add some examples too XD

  3. Please i want search about this subject...
    I want your help if you can

    1. Hey, the source of these meaning is the book "Semantics: The Study of Meaning by Geoffrey Leech"

      It has all the examples and much more. Do read this if you want to do research on this topic.

  4. you should add illustrative examples

  5. But all look the same...can u mail me some examples??

  6. Can I get the e-book of Geoffrey Leech? Been searching for it but found nothing. Thank you.

    1. reach me on this link http://awinlanguage.blogspot.co.id/2012/02/reported-discourse-meeting-ground-for.html

      hopefully I can do something for u

  7. It's a nice work but you should add more examples so that a learner(s)may understand easily.

  8. Thanks for the concise lesson.
    By the way, this branch of study should be spelled Semantics (with an 's' at the end).


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