In its classical form componental analysis was applied to the so-called closed subsystems of vocabulary, mostly only to kinship and colour terms. The analysis as a rule was formalised only as far as the symbolic representation of meaning components is concerned. Thus, e.g. in the analysis of kinship terms, the component denoting sex may be represented by A — male, A — female, В may stand for one generation above ego, В — for the generation below ego, С — for direct lineality, С — for indirect lineality, etc. Accordingly the clusters of symbols ABC and ABC represent the semantic components of the word mother,and fatherrespectively.
In its more elaborate form componental analysis also proceeds from the assumption that word-meaning is not an unanalysable whole but can be decomposed into elementary semantic components. It is assumed, however, that these basic semantic elements which might be called semantic features can be classified into several subtypes thus ultimately constituting a highly structured system. In other words it is assumed that any item can be described in terms of categories arranged in a hierarchical way; that is a subsequent category is a subcategory of the previous category.
The most inclusive categories are parts of speech — the major word classes are nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs. All members of a major class share a distinguishing semantic feature and involve a certain type of semantic information. More revealing names for such features might be “thingness” or “substantiality” for nouns, “quality” for adjectives, and so on.
All other semantic features may be classified into semantic markers — semantic features which are present also in the lexical meaning of other words and distinguishers — semantic features which are individual, i.e. which do not recur in the lexical meaning of other
words. Thus, the distinction between markers and distinguishers is that markers refer to features which the item has in common with other items, distinguishers refer to what differentiates an item from other items. The componental analysis of the word, e.g., spinster runs: noun, count-noun, human, adult, female, who has never married. Noun of course is the part of speech, meaning the most inclusive category; count-noun is a marker, it represents a subclass within nouns and refers to the semantic feature which the word spinster has in common with all other countable nouns (boy, table, flower, idea, etc.) but which distinguishes it from all uncountable nouns, e.g. salt, bread, water, etc; human is also a marker which refers the word spinster to a subcategory of countable nouns, i.e. to nouns denoting human beings; adult is another marker pointing at a specific subdivision of human beings into adults & young or not grown up. The word spinster possesses still another marker — female — which it shares with such words as woman, widow, mother, etc., and which represents a subclass of adult females. At last comes the distinguisher who has never married which differentiates the meaning of the word from other words which have all other common semantic features. Thus, the componental analysis may be represented as a hierarchical structure with several subcategories each of which stands in relation of subordination to the preceding subclass of semantic features.
This may be represented in the graphic form as
Componental analysis with the help of markers and distinguishers may be used in the analysis of hyponymic groups.1 In the semantic analysis of such groups we find that they constitute a series with an increasingly larger range of inclusion. For example, bear, mammal, animal represent three successive markers in which bear is subordinated to mammal and mammal to animal. As one ascends the hierarchical structure the terms generally become fewer and the domains — larger, i.e. the shift is from greater specificity to greater generic character. Words
1 See ‘Semasiology’, § 49, p. 58. 256
that belong to the same step in the hierarchical ladder are of the same degree of specificity and have all of them at least one marker — one component of meaning in common. They constitute a series where the relationship between the members is essentially identical.
Componental analysis is also used in the investigation of the semantic structure of synonyms. There is always a certain component of meaning which makes one member of the synonymic set different from any other member of the same set. Thus, though brave, courageous, fearless, audacious,etc. are all of them traditionally cited as making up a set of synonymic words, each member of the set has a component of meaning not to be found in any other member of this set. In a number of cases this semantic component may be hard to define, nevertheless intuitively it is felt by all native speakers. For instance, that is how the difference in the meaning components of the words like, enjoy, appreciate,etc. is described. Analysing the difficulty of finding an adequate translation for John appreciates classical music; he doesn't appreciate rockthe author argues that “... appreciateis not quite the same as enjoyor likeor admireor take an interest inthough quite1 a number of semantic components making up their meaning is identical. To appreciateis to be attuned to the real virtue X is presupposed to have and not to appreciateis to fail to be attuned. It is not to deny that X has virtues. In short, appreciateseems to presuppose in the object qualities deserving admiration in a way that like, admire,and so on do not."
Componental analysis is currently combined with other linguistic procedures used for the investigation of meaning. For example, contrastive analysis supplemented by componental analysis yields very good results as one can clearly see the lack of one-to-one correspondence not only between the semantic structure of correlated words (the number and types of meaning) but also the difference in the seemingly identical and correlated meanings of contrasted words.
For example, the correlated meanings of the Russian word толстый and the English words thick, stout, buxomthough they all denote broadly speaking the same property (of great or specified depth between opposite surfaces) are not semantically identical because the Russian word толстый is used to describe both humans and objects indiscriminately (cf., толстая женщина, (книга), the English adjective thickdoes not contain the semantic component human. Conversely stoutin this meaning does not contain the component object (cf. a thick bookbut a stout man).The English adjective buxompossesses in addition to human the sex component, and namely, female which is not to be found in either the English stoutor in the Russian толстый. It can be inferred from the above that this analysis into the components animate / inanimate, human male / female reveals the difference in the comparable meanings of correlated words of two different languages — Russian and English — and also the difference in the meaning of synonyms within the English language.
The procedure of componental analysis is also combined with the semantic analysis through collocability or co-occurrence as the components of the lexical (or the grammatical) meaning may be singled out
by the co-occurrence analysis. It is assumed that certain words may co-occur in a sentence, others may not. The co-occurrence of one word with another may be treated as a clue to the criterial feature of the concept denoted by the word. Thus, for example, if one learns that a puffin flies,one can assume that a puffinis animate and is probably a bird or an insect.
A close inspection of words with which the prepositions occur brings out the components of their meaning. Thus, e.g., down the stairsis admitted *down the dayis not; during the dayis admitted but *during the stairsis not. We may infer that time feature is to be found in the preposition duringbut not in the meaning of down.We can also see that some prepositions sharethe features of space and time because of their regular co-occurrence with the nouns denoting space and time, e.g. in the city / country, in July/ in1975, etc.
A completion test in which the subjects have a free choice of verb to complete the sentences show that, though in the dictionary definitions of a number of verbs one cannot find any explicit indication of constraints, which would point at the semantic component, e. g. animate — inanimate, human — nonhuman, etc., the co-occurrence of the verbs with certain types of nouns, functioning as subjects, can be viewed as a reliable criterion of such components. For example, in the sentences of the type The cows — through the fields, The boys — through the fields,etc. various verbs were offered stray, wander, ran, lumber, walk, hurry, stroll,etc. The responses of the subjects showed, however, the difference in the components of the verb-meanings. For example, for all of them strollis constrained to human subjects though no dictionaries include this component (of human beings) in the definition of the verb.
The semantic peculiarities of the subcategories within nouns are revealed in their specific co-occurrence. For example, the combination of nouns with different pronouns specifies the sex of the living being denoted by the noun. Cf. The baby drank his bottleand The baby drank her bottlewhere the sex-component of the word-meaning can be observed through the co-occurrence of the noun babywith the possessive pronouns hisor her.
Componental analysis may be also arrived at through transformational procedures. It is assumed that sameness / difference of transforms is indicative of sameness / difference in the componental structure of the lexical unit. The example commonly analysed is the difference in the transforms of the structurally identical lexical units, e.g. puppydog, bulldog, lapdog,etc. The difference in the semantic relationship between the stems of the compounds and hence the difference in the component of the word-meaning is demonstrated by the impossibility of the same type of transforms for all these words. Thus, a puppydogmay be transformed into ‘a dog (which) is a puppy’, bull-dog,however, is not ‘a dog which is a bull’, neither is a lapdog ‘a dog which is a lap’. A bulldogmay be transformed into ‘a bulllike dog’, or ‘a dog which looks like a bull’, but a lapdogis not ‘a dog like a lap’, etc.
Generally speaking one may assume that practically all classifications of lexical units implicitly presuppose the application of the the-
ory of semantic components. For instance the classification of nouns into animate — inanimate, human — nonhuman proceeds from the assumption that there is a common semantic component found in such words as, e.g., man, boy, girl,etc., whereas this semantic component is nonexistent in other words, e.g. table, chair, pen,etc., or dog, cat, horse,etc.
Thematic classification of vocabulary units for teaching purposes is in fact also based on componental analysis.
Thus, e.g., we can observe the common semantic component in the lexico-semantic group entitled ‘food-stuffs’ and made up of such words as sugar, pepper, salt, bread,etc., or the common semantic component ‘non-human living being’ in cat, lion, dog, tiger,etc.
§ 7. Method of Semantic Differential
All the methods of semantic analysis discussed above are aimed mainly or exclusively at the investigation of the denotational component of the lexical meaning.
The analysis of the differences of the connotational meaning is very hard since the nuances are often slight, difficult to grasp and do not yield themselves to objective investigation and verification.
An attempt to establish and display these differences was developed by a group of American psycholinguists.1 They set up a technique known as the semantic differential by means of which, as they claim, meaning can be measured. It is perfectly clear, however, that what semantic differential measures is not word-meaning in any of accepted senses of the term but the connotational component of meaning or to be more exact the emotive charge.
Their technique requires the subjects to judge a series of concepts with respect to a set of bipolar (antonymic) adjective scales. For example, a concept like horseis to be rated as to the degree to which it is good or bad, fast or slow, strong or weak, etc.
The meaning of the seven divisions is, taking as an example the first of the scales represented above, from left to right: extremely good, quite good, slightly good, neither good nor bad (or equally good and bad) slightly bad, quite bad, extremely bad.
In the diagram above horseis described as neither good nor bad, extremely fast, quite strong, slightly hard, equally happy and sad.
1C. E. Osgood, G. J. Suci and P.H. Tannenbaum. The Measurement of Meaning. USA, 1965.
The responses of the subjects produce a semantic profile representing the emotive charge of the word.
The degree of agreement between the answers is treated as a significant and reliable factor.
It may be argued that the data with which they deal in these investigations are essentially subjective. Objectivity, however, concerns the role of the observer. In other words, each person records his own, entirely subjective reactions, but by the time the analysis has been completed the result will represent a kind of semantic average reached by purely objective statistical methods.
Some conclusions of considerable interest may be drawn from these experiments.
1. It was found that synesthesia or transfer across sensory modalities is apparently a common occurrence. For example, terms, such as “dark — heavy”, “slow — low” tend to be grouped together by a vast majority of subjects and likewise terms such as “bright — light”, “quick — sharp". Synesthesia is also commonly observed in regard to colour responses to music, when, e.g., the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualisation of a certain colour. As a result physical sensations are felt as connected with psychological phenomena.
It seems clear from their studies that imagery found in synesthesia is intimately tied up with language metaphor and that both represent semantic relations. In fact words likewarm, cold, heavy, light, bright, dullare universally applied to psychological qualities of temperament or intellect, e.g. to the quality of a voice as well as to sensations.
Practically everyone speaks of warmth in a voice, narrowness of mind and smoothness of manners. Logically it would seem that thermal cold in the skin has nothing to do with coldness heard in a voice or seen in a face. All languages, however, have words that designate physical-psychological pairings. This does not imply that the pairings are identical in all languages. A word denoting a given physical property may develop psychological meanings that are peculiar to this or that language. There is, however, an undeniable kinship in the range of meanings. All seem to involve hightened activity and emotional arousal. No case was discovered in which the word with the denotational meaning ‘hot’ named a remote, calm manner.
2. The comparison of responses by native speakers of different languages to denotationally “equivalent” words revealed that they have different semantic profiles.
It follows that learners of a foreign language can hardly expect that words will have the same connotation for them as they do for native speakers. This naturally concerns first of all the emotive charge of the lexical units. Thus, e.g., it was found that the word raintends to be described as rather happy by all the subjects of the Southwest Indian groups. The same word was described as rather sad by the overwhelming majority of English subjects.
The new technique, however, has not been properly developed or extended to an adequate sample of vocabulary and consequently is of little use in lexicological analysis.
§ 8. Summary and Conclusions
1. Acquaintance with the currently used procedures of linguistic investigation shows that contrastive analysis and statistical
analysis are widely used in the preparation of teaching material and
are of primary importance for teachers of English.
2. The selection of this or that particular procedure largely depends on the goal set before the investigator.
The Immediate Constituent analysis is mainly applied to find out the derivational structure of lexical units. The distributional and the transformational procedures are of help in the investigation of sameness / difference of meaning of words and word-groups and also in the analysis of word-formation. Componental analysis brings to light the set of sememes which make up the denotational meaning of lexical units. Componental analysis may be combined with transformational procedures and also with the distributional and co-occurrence analysis.
3. The method of semantic differential is regarded as an interesting attempt to get a better insight into the problem of the connotational meaning. This method, however, has not been as yet properly elaborated and therefore is scarcely ever used in applied lexicology.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface to the First Edition................................................................................. 3
Preface to the Second Edition........................................................................................ 5
§ 1. Definition. Links with Other Branches of Linguistics........................................... 7
§ 2. Two Approaches to Language Study.......................................................... 7
§ 3. Lexicology and Sociolinguistics.................................................................. 8