Meaning Level Of The Text And The Way To Its Analysis

Abstract

The study represents an attempt to introduce the way to analysis of a meaning level of a literary text. The actual multilevel text division is presented, five text levels are defined. The study of a meaning level of a text is carried out allowing the meaning level to be a complex, self-sufficient element of a text, nevertheless due to its qualities occupying the prior position in the level paradigm, and thus able to regulate the work of other levels and the structure of a text in general. The necessity of a complex and profound analysis of the meaning level of a text is stated. The possible outcomes of the analysis and ways of conducting it are defined. The most efficient way of analysis results to be in developing an invariant integral model of a meaning level of a text that wouldallowanalysingthemechanismsofsynthesisofmeaningplaneelementsintoa complex structure. The basic elements of the meaning level of a literary text are named; their brief characteristic as well as their prior functions are given. The material for the study is presented by the novels of the dystopia genre of Russian, English and American writers, belonging to the period of the first half of the 20-th century. The reasons for choosing the dystopia genre are indicated, the results of analysis carried on the novels chosen are provided.

Keywords: Text levelsmeaning levelintegral modeldystopiameaning plane

Introduction

The attempts of interpreting of a literary text, even in case of detailed and profound analysis, do not always result in objectifying the meaning component of the text. The problem of meaning identification remains a mounting question even after many years of linguistic research studies. Literary text represents a succession of lexical units, the choice of which is initially determined by author’s intention, for out of a multitude of lexemes he chooses those, which possess the potential to embody his ideas and carry them unaltered to an addressee. The aim of are aderis to see in to author’s motives and to perceive the text as not just a receptacle of plot lines, but as a code. A reader’s comprehension of a literary text is based on his ability of explication of meanings, previously implicated into that text by addresser, the implementation of meaning elements (lexemes) is realized through selection and analysis of the most prominent units, marked by context and, consequently, by its author.

The most essential problem in the analysis of meaning is that the process of meaning formation and meaning reception has not been well developed in terms of modern linguistics.

Problem Statement

The study deals with the problem of multilevel structure of literary text, distinguishing five text levels. The ways to the meaning level analysis are being suggested.

Nowadays a number of aspects connected with studies of meaning formation and meaning reception appear to be common for many of the theories operating the concepts of implication and explication of meaning. One of the basic suggestions, common for studies in that field, is revealing the multilevel nature of the literary text structure. The levels introduced, their nature and character differ from one research to another, though it provides possible to single out aspects, common to many of them. The most general division of a literary text corresponds with language stratification and results in recognition of six text levels: phonetic, morphological, lexical, syntactical, compositional and stylistic. In terms of our study we suggest that the structure of the literary text is represented by five levels: phonetic, lexical, syntactical, pragmatic and meaning. The meaning level, being the most complex and the most informative among the levels, requires scrupulous attention and profound analysis.

Research Questions

The study represents an attempt to introduce actual multilevel text division. Special attention is paid to the meaning level of a text; the ways of its analysis are being suggested. The basic elements of the meaning level of a literary text are named; their brief characteristic as well as their prior functions are given.

Purpose of the Study

The study aims at developing an invariant integral model of a meaning level of a text that would allow analysing the mechanisms of synthesis of meaning plane elements into a complex structure. The analysis of a meaning level of a text is carried out allowing the level in question to be a complex, self-sufficient element of a text, nevertheless due to its qualities occupying the prior position in the level paradigm, and thus able to regulate the other levels and the structure of a text in general. The analysis of the meaning level is carried out through an attempt to build an integral model of meaning and elements, constituting it. Among those elements we primarily distinguish meaning planes, which contain one of the partial ideas of an addressee, develop accordingly to the development of a text and contain all units, reflecting author’s partial idea. The material for the study are the novels of the dystopia genre of Russian, English and American writers, belonging to the period of the first half of the 20-th century.

Research Methods

Among the research methods applied in the study are: the method of semantic analysis of a text, contextual analysis and componential analysis. Methods of communicative-functional approach, methods of quantitative analysis.

Findings

The levels of the text.

In terms of our study we suggest that the structure of literary text is represented by five levels: phonetic, lexical, syntactical, pragmatic and meaning levels. Phonetic level allows the reader to elicit additional information of emotionality and stylistic features (rhymed combinations, tone painting, phonetic repetition, rhyme, intonation). Lexical level is represented by lexical units, selected by the author of the text and necessary for the realization of topical communicative situation. Analysis of the lexical level is based on identifying the cases of lexical repetition, lexical compression or lexical redundancy, overacted employment of some lexical units, etc. Syntactical level implies syntactic relationship between lexemes, their combinations and position. This level provides possible recognition of syntactic patterns, employment of typical for author syntactic constructions, inversion, omission of lexical units, presence of elliptical sentences, parallel constructions, breaches of sentence closedness, etc. Meaning level realizes actualization of those problems in the text, which an author has a concern in, and due to which a text is created. On this level partial meanings and initial meaning can be distinguished. Partial meanings realize partial ideas, initial meaning contains the core, basic idea of a text. Initial meaning can be objectified by the complex of partial ideas. Pragmatic level reflects author’s modality towards topical communicative situation, revealed in a text. Pragmatics of a text implies author’s attitude to the object of communication, to the act of communication and through it to the addressee. Pragmatic level“conveys the pragmatic intention of the text, and the pragmatic effect planned” (Soboleva, 2008, p. 55). All five levels coexisted penetrate in to each other, thus making it difficult to denote well-defined borders between them. Due to the multifunctional nature of lexical units they can perform semantic, syntactic, pragmatic and meaning-forming functions. Pragmatic and meaning text levels are identical in reference to their function of phrasing the text intention and programming the prospective effect upon a reader.

The meaning level of the text and its elements.

Meaning level of a text is of highest interest, considering the points the study aims at. Meaning level, as any other level, consists of elements, which interact with each other not chaotically but in accordance with some rules. The character and nature of latest require systematic description, classification and profound analysis, that’s why we conclude reasonable the elaboration of an integral model of the meaning level of a text, that will allow us to analyse the mechanisms of synthesis of semantic elements into a complex, united structure, just as to research the processes of explication of the meaning elements by addressee and their implication by addresser. The main purpose of a description of a text meaning in terms of linguistic approach is now not only observation and evaluation, but a development of elaborated and functioning system of meaning, which could be put in practice regarding any literary text existing. Modelling the meaning level of the text will enable us in acquiring a relatively certain understanding of what ideas the addresser intended to develop in the text, reveal the constitutive essence of the text, its underlying task. It will also help in more detailed reconstruction of the mental world of the author; in studying the mechanisms of implication of author’s ideas into the body of the text and the ways of their influence on the reader; in revealing the methods of brining the reader’s conscious into identity with the author’s thinking; in identifying parts of a text with highest and lowest meaning intensity and singling out text intervals with the highest system priority. Weal so tend to register the coefficient of realization of meaning planes in the text plane and detect dominating meanings of the text.

In order to make modelling of the meaning level possible it is essential to define its structure units, among which we distinguish: beta-functor, functor, vectorialsemantics, complexmeaningunit, meaningconstruct, meaning plane, partial meaning and initial meaning.

Initial meaning, being homotropal with the objective development of the text plane, regulates all the elements of the text structure. Initial meaning is the organizing parameter of the text at all its levels. We define initial meaning as the most general and core (global) meaning the addresser implements in the text, pursuing the main aim of transmission of the former to the addressee. Due to the fact that initial meaning presents a multidimensional complex idea, which frequently provides impossible for verbalisation, in the text it divaricates on partial meanings, composing it. Partial meanings are not as compound and deliver aspects of idea to the addressee more effectively. Relatively complete description of initial meaning reveals possible through integration of partial meanings, representing it. Partial meanings are disposed in meaning planes, and present meaning constructs, developing in proportion to the deployment of the text plane. Meaning plane can be describe dasaninformations pace, in which the meaning construct of one partial idea is disposed together with all its elements that exist in the text plane and in the meaning plane simultaneously. Meaning construct is a formation, constantly developing through meaning increment, implemented by revealing new lexical units in the text, that realize in their semantics meanings, identical to one of the partial meanings. Complex meaning unit is the element of the text plane, that consists of one or few sentences, united by common meaning, which is explicated through vectorial semantics of beta-functors and functors, located in these sentences. Complex meaning units contain the main ideas of the textand “clarify them on the one hand, but on the other hand they create vertical meaning context, which becomes possible by linking thematically identical complex meaning units” (Shtekhman, 2014, p. 53). Functor is a lexical unit of the text, which functions as means of projection of semantics of text units into the space of a meaning plane. Functors are unevenly distributed in the text plane and irradiate a sheaf of semantic meanings, which but for one or few can be nullified by context, and as a result under the influence of the context the lexical unit is deprived of its polysemantic quality and shrinks to monosemantic state. Lexical units that can reduce or enforce semantic valency of a functor we identify as beta-functors.

Meaning planes of dystopian novels.

The novels of the dystopia genre of Russian, English and American writers were chosen as a research material for several reasons. Due to some peculiar characteristics typical for the novels of this genre (of which it shall be noted further) the process of developing an integral model of the meaning plane becomes a more determined and impersonal process. Dystopia novels belong to the field of modern fiction. Literary text is the most complex and elaborated form of communication (between the addresser and the addressee). The main purpose of a literary text is transmission of meanings, ideas and experience. This is the hyper task of any author.

In terms of the study purpose we consider a literary text from the point of communicative-functional approach and define it as a complex unit of communication, whichpossessesstructuralandsemanticunityandrealizesgeneralcommunicativetaskoftransmissionofmeaningsfromaddressertoaddresseethroughimplicationsof non-linear meaning concatenations of text lexemes, that regulates the meaning perception of the text by the addressee.

Study of the materials of five most popular and well-known dystopia novels of the 20-th century seems perspective. The novels are: “We”by Yevgeny Zamyatin (Zamyatin, 2013); “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley (Huxley, 2008); “1984”by George Orwell (Orwell, 1977); “Player Piano” by Kurt Vonnegut (Vonnegut, 2006); “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury (Bradbury, 2013).

The reasons that brought us to the choice of the novels of this genre are several. Most of that reasons take their roots in the origins of the genre. Dystopia genre has developed from the genre of utopian literature, but instead of developing it, dystopia became the opposite of utopia. In dystopia genre we find most of the utopia motives turned upside down and even distorted. Utopia gives its reader an ideal society, which is regulated by rules, based on equality, fairness and justice. Dystopia presents the society totally wretched and miserable, in which inequality and injustice prevail. The main aim of dystopia novels is to warn its readers about things, that should be prevented, for the attempts to bring utopia society to life always result in getting a dystopia, due to the corrupt and wicked nature of a human. Imperfection of human nature always leads to mutation of such categories as equality and justice, for they are treated wrong then the question comes to personal benefit. The idea that comes from it is that the initial task of dystopian novels is to warn its reader against any attempts to build a utopia world in modern society, as they will inevitably result in dystopia, which is depicted as a variation of totalitarian regime in most of the novels. This idea of coming to an exceedingly unequal society instead of a fair and equal one is what we consider the initial meaning of all dystopia novels. The initial meaning is developed through implication in the body of a text of partial meanings, such as inhumane nature of totalitarian regime, unification of people and their lives, denying the value of a single human life in favour of the life of a society, denying a person in right on privacy, regimentation of interpersonal relations, strict regimentation of private life, etc. In the course of the study we have singled out twenty partial meanings, which provided to occur more frequently than others and which had been realized in most of the novels chosen.

As a result of analysis carried on the novels chosen it was defined that in the novel “We”(Zamyatin, 2013) 20 meaning planes out of 20 were actualized; in the novel“Brave New World”(Huxley, 2008) - 18 meaning planes; in the novel “1984”(Orwell, 1977) - 19; in the novel “Player Piano”(Vonnegut, 2006) - 18; in “Fahrenheit 451”(Bradbury, 2013) - 16. The interpretation of the results allows us to state that all the novels mentioned possess a certain amount of identity, an assumption to be made is that it happened due to the common historical and political background and common ideas circulating in that time period. The earliest novel published among those mentioned was “We” byYevgeny Zamyatin(Zamyatin, 2013). All the meaning planes, covered by our research are present at this novel, but in fact there are much more partial meanings and meaning plains in this novel. The novel differs significantly from its predecessors in this genre; in fact it created a model of new, modern dystopian novel, which was further applied in many of the literary works of the genre. Some meaning planes, introduced by Zamyatin are still present even in the novels of modern authors. Literary worlds of later works of the genre apply new forms, plots and characters, but the core ideas, on the basis of which the literary world is build, alter insignificantly, though some new partial planes appear in each of the new novels. These core planes are: the idea of realization of dystopian society in future, the idea of implanted ideology, totalitarian regime that once proclaimed itself a socialism, but was twisted and distorted into tyranny, the idea of controlling the citizens and following them, the idea of denying personal rights and freedoms, unification of society and regimentation of interpersonal relations.

This brings us to a conclusion, that Zamyatin’s dystopia novel can be considered as anarchtypal text, that enriched the semiotic field of the dystopiagenre with new meaning paradigm, which gave an impulse to new literary work spartially similar in meanings and ideas conveyed.

The later works of the generealize archetypal planes, as well as new ones, implemented in accordance with author’s individual design. Passing new literary contexts, archetypal meaning planes expand their space, acquiring new meaning elements. The further in historical aspect the textis from the archetypalone, the less space is provided in it to archetypal meaning planes and the greater space is devoted to new, up-to-date problems and meanings.

At present state of our study we conduct a quantitative analysis of functors, actualizing the meaning planes in all five novels. The results of it will allow us to register meaning planes with the highest and lowest coefficient of realization in the text and detect dominating meanings of the text as well as minor ones. The results of quantitative analysis will provide possible the development of an integral model of the meaning level of a text, and give us a clue to better understanding and interpretation of ideas, conveyed by each of the texts.

The unique aspect of the genre in question is that in terms of analysis notonly inductive reconstruction of meanings is possible, when the synthes is of partial elements results in obtaining amoregeneral and complex idea, but the possibility of deductive approach becomes available as well. It means a possibility of analysis from more general aspects to more partial ones, due to the fact that the initial idea of adystopia novel is determined by the origins of the genre. By that approach text is considered as a single unit, representing the problematic communicative situation, and the text in its unity, integrated by the parameter of initial idea, is defined as the starting point of analysis, from which the research may be conducted to the deeper levels, i.e. to the elements, constituting it.

Conclusion

The meaning level of a text is multidimensional,a number of meaning planes can be realized in it simultaneously. Through the alternating harmony of meaning planes the polyphony of meaning is realized in a text.

Text is a code, which is created in accordance with some definite author’s design, and according to this design it shall be read. Literary text being a variation of a text in general, possesses all the characteristics of it and presents primarily a means of transmission of addresser’s thoughts, ideas and meanings to an addressee. Literary text has a multilevel structure, the core element of which, from the point of communicative-functional approach, is the meaning level. The analysis of the meaning level, its elements and principles of their co-existence and interaction will allow defining the mechanisms of meaning formation in a literary text and the ways of delivering ideas and meanings from addresser to addressee. The quantitative analysis of functors will make it possible to register meaning planes with the highest and lowest coefficient of realization in the text and detect dominating meanings of the text as well as minor ones. It will open the way to building an integral model of the meaning level of a text, and give us a clue to better understanding and interpretation of ideas, implied by an author.

References

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Publisher

Future Academy

First Online

18.12.2019

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2018.04.02.68

Online ISSN

2357-1330