Meanings of Language Units: A General Division

All language means contain meaning – generally acknowledged grammatical and lexical meanings, others beside these contain specific (stylistic) meanings.

As for lexical units, words are used on the one hand 'to record, clarify and communicate' thoughts, whereas they are used on the other hand to show or create feelings, or to provoke people act in a certain way. The first kind of use has been termed "descriptive", the second "dynamic". Each word in particular, together with its prime (basic/denotative/dictionary/general) meaning, has got some connotative (stylistic/figurative/pragmatic) meaning as well, eg. That’s a fox. (basic). What a fox of a friend you are! (figurative).

Meanings of Language Units

General: denotative (logical), lexical, grammatical.

Additional (Stylistic, pragmatic, contextual): expressive, emotive, evaluative.

The two aspects of meaning that may be given approximate analyses are the connotative relation and the denotative relation. The connotative relation is the relation between signs and thei r interpretant signs. The denotative relation is the relation between signs and objects.


In general linguistics the problem of meaning deals mainly with such aspects of the term as the interrelation between meaning and concept, meaning and sign, meaning and referent. The general tendency is to regard meaning as something fixed at a given period of time.

Logical (denotative, referential) meaning is the precise naming of a feature or an idea, a phenomenon or an object, with the name of which we recognize the whole of the concept. Logical meanings are liable to change. As a result the logical meanings of one word may denote different concepts. It is therefore necessary to distinguish between primary and secondary logical meanings.

It is essential for stylistics to distinguish between the primary and the secondary logical meanings, as some SDs are built on the interplay between them, e.g. What lies at the bottom of the sea and trembles? /An old wreck/ Meanings: a wrecked ship and a person with mental disorders.

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