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Chapter Two Chapter Two The Scope of Semantics. 2.1 Naming Communication is defined as a system with the signifier, on one hand, and the signified, on.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter Two Chapter Two The Scope of Semantics. 2.1 Naming Communication is defined as a system with the signifier, on one hand, and the signified, on."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter Two Chapter Two The Scope of Semantics

2 2.1 Naming Communication is defined as a system with the signifier, on one hand, and the signified, on the other. The signifier is a word in the language and the signified is the object in the world that it stands for, refers to or denotes. Words are names or labels for things.

3 Two terminological terms may be made 1. EXPRESSION: sequence of words with a grammatical identity. 2. DENOTATION vs. REFERENCE: the former indicates the class of persons, things, etc., the latter the actual persons, things, etc. Difficulties with this naming view: 1- It seems to apply only to nouns. It is difficult to extend the theory of naming to include other parts of speech.

4 2- Some nouns do not denote objects in the world, e.g. Unicorn, goblin, fairy. As a solution, we distinguish two kinds of worlds, the real and that of fairy tales. 3- Some nouns do not refer to physical objects at all, e.g. love, hate, inspiration. 4- The meaning of the relevant word is by no means the same as its denotation. E.g. the evening star and the morning star. Both denote a single object, the planet Venus, but hardly have the same meaning.

5 5- Even when words are linked to visible objects in the world, they often denote a whole set of rather different objects. E.g. chair, settee, stool. The classification of objects in terms of the words used to denote them differs from language to language. E.g. p.21 One way out of all our difficulties is to say that: only some words actually denote objects. The others have a meaning derived from the more basic use.

6 Russell suggested two kinds of words: 1- object word and 2- dictionary word Object words are learned ostensibly, i.e., by pointing at objects. Dictionary words are defined in terms of the object words. Thus object words have ostensive definition. 2.2 Concepts Another view is to relate words through the mediation of concepts of the mind.

7 Two of the best-known versions are the ‘sign theory’ of de Saussure and the ‘semiotic triangle’ of Ogden & Richards. According to de Saussure the linguistic sign consists of a signifier and signified, a sound image and a concept both linked by a psychological associative bond. Ogden & Richards saw the relationship as a triangle (figure 1), The symbol is the linguistic element (word, sentence, etc), the referent the object in the world, while

8 thought or reference is concept Thought or Reference Symbol Referent There is no direct link between symbol and referent (language and the world)- the link is via thought or reference, the concept of our minds.

9 This theory avoids many of the problems of naming- the classification, for instance, need not be natural or universal, but merely conceptual. The problem with this theory: what is precisely the associative bond or the link between symbol and concept? An answer can be that it is a psychological one, that when we think of a name we think of the concept & vice versa, i.e.,

10 that meaning consists of associating one with the other. However it is not clear what exactly is meant by ‘thinking of’ a concept. All this theory is doing is to set up entities that are by definition mirror images of the words that they are supposed to explain. The problem of semantic is not the search for an elusive entity called ‘meaning’, but an attempt to understand how it is that words and sentences can mean at all.


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