Реферат Word and Meaning /english/ (WinWord)
Moscow State Linguistic University
Department of Humanity and applied sciences
Theme: Word and Meaning
The word may be described as the basic unit of language. Uniting meaning and form, it is composed of one or more morphemes, each consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation. The combinations of morphemes within words are subject to certain linking conditions. When a derivational suffix is added a new word is formed, thus, “listen” and “listener” are different words.
When used in sentences together with other words they are syntactically organized. But if we look at the language “speech”, it becomes apparent that words are not neatly segmented as they are by spaces in graphological realization. The pauses in speech do not consistently correspond with word-endings; many languages, including English, do not make it clear to a foreign listener where the utterance is divided into words.
The definition of a word is one of the most difficult in linguistics because the simplest word has many aspects. All attempts to characterize the word are necessarily specific for each domain of science and are therefore considered one-sided by the representatives of all the other domains and criticized for incompletness. The variants of definitions were so numerous that some authors collecting them produced works of impressive scope and bulk.
A few examples will suffice to show that any definition is conditioned by the aims and interests of its author.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), one of the great English philosophers, revealed a materialistic approach to the problem of nomination when he wrote that words are not mere sounds but names of matter. Three centuries later the great Russian physiologist I.P. Pavlov (1849-1936) examined the word in connection with his studies of the second signal system, and defined it as a universal signal that can be substitute any other signal from the environment in evoking a response in a human organism. One of the latest developments of science and engineering is machine translation. It also deals with words and requires a rigorous definition for them. It runs as follows: a word is a sequence of graphemes which can occur between spaces, or the representation of such a sequence on morphemic level.
Within the scope of linguistics the word has been defined syntactically, semantically, phonologically and by combining various approaches.
It has been syntactically defined for instance as “the minimum sentence” by H.Sweet and much later by L.Bloomfield as a “minimum free form” – the smallest unit of meaning that can exist in isolation, but this does not help us unreservedly. Is “newspaper-seller” a word, or “petrol-station”, or computer-programmer? They certainly convey bits of meaning which we do not automatically break into smaller units when we meet them in common use.
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