Reconstruction Of The Word Meaning And Its Emotive Component
The article deals with the study of the possibility to apply the semantic reconstruction method for identification of a word emotive meaning. According to the modern theory of emotivity, the emotional meaning of a word adds by the context. In our opinion, emotive meanings initially present in the word implicitly or explicitly and reveal in contexts. To confirm this hypothesis, we studied OE dryht / driht in Old English poem Exodus. The social significance of the word and the poem for the Anglo-Saxons determined the choice. An analysis of Old English and etymological dictionaries, as well as the semantic reconstruction of PGmc *druhti-, showed that the emotive component in OE dryht / driht presented initially, that probably allowed the author to choose the words in the literary text consciously, not accidentally. The author intuitively feels the emotive meaning of the word, which reveals in a certain context. Thorough context analysis of Exodus establishes that OE dryht / driht has a positive connotation in the wider context and shows that all context words mainly refer to poetic vocabulary and carry a positive emotive component. However, the study of two from 19 contexts is not enough to set the positive/negative emotive connotation in OE dryht / driht, which determines the prospect of further research.
Keywords: Theory of emotivityconnotationsemantic reconstructionOE dryht / drihtExodus
Traditionally, semantic reconstruction is the procedure for restoring the ancient, or previous meaning of a word. The main difficulty in using the semantic reconstruction method is that these communication processes take place not only in a different culture but also significantly distant in time. The questions naturally arise: what material should the researcher work with, what principles, methods and procedures should use? A context/text is necessary for semantic reconstruction, since only a careful study of contexts, where the word for understudy appears in a variety of uses, can explain and motivate the convergence/divergence of meanings ( Kolomiiet, 2017). One should remember that when the context defines and clarifies one meaning of a word, other meanings potentially present in this word.
Linguistics is evolving. New directions emerge that enlighten some supposedly intractable problems from traditional approaches. Some of these problems include questions about an ancient word connotation existence, as well as its correct evaluation. Thus, to establish the emotive component of the ancient word meaning means a more detailed and specific semantic reconstruction.
Any literary text aims at evoking a certain emotional response among readers and force them to react in a particular way, creating a more vivid picture of reality. The emphasis on the emotive theory over the last decade has seen a significant amount of research but has recently shown greater interest in the procedure to clarify and identify the words with emotional meaning in modern texts.
According to Shakhovsky (2016, 2019), some words in the lexical system of the language express emotions and some call them. Emotional words can be affective, connotative and potentially emotive. Moreover, emotional semantics can manifest in the context explicitly or implicitly, through the increment of the emotive meaning. Besides, in the text, words can have positive / negative emotive meanings but can be ambivalent, when in different contexts the same word can have both negative and positive connotations. Thus, even denotative words with a neutral connotation in a certain context can acquire an emotional meaning.
The logical reasoning of V.I. Shakhovsky about potentials that add emotional meaning only in context leads us to the conclusion that emotional meanings are not embedded in potentials, but are “induced” (the term of Shakhovsky) from the context.
Our approach involves the development of his idea from the opposite perspective: emotive meanings initially present in the word implicitly or explicitly and only appear in contexts, i.e. emotive meanings exist in the word constantly. According to our assumption, if we consider the potentials from diachrony, initially they were all emotive, then they acquired an additional positive or negative connotation, becoming ambivalent.Over time, native speakers no longer perceive the words with an emotional component, dictionaries cease to fix their meanings, and the words become potentials, revealing the emotional meaning in the context. One should understand that the author makes choices about the words in the literary text consciously, not accidentally. The author intuitively feels the emotive meaning of the word, which reveals in a certain context.
A crucial question for our research to find out whether the context determines the appearance of an emotive connotation in a denotative word or the word inherits it since inception.
Another question also arises which words are potentially suitable for the analysis, from which contexts to choose them.
Particular attention needs to be paid to the question of how the concept of positive and negative meaning relates to the ancient word. It is equally important to clarify the degree of positive/neutral/negative evaluation of an ancient word connotation as in different eras it may vary significantly.
Purpose of the Study
Purpose of the article is to show a potential opportunity to determine an ancient word emotive component using a traditional historical-comparative method, i.e. semantic reconstruction. To achieve this goal, research material should meet several criteria. Firstly, the Old English text should affect the reader/listener through language means maximally, i.e. in terms of V.I. Shakhovsky to be emotiogenic. Secondly, words for research should be socially significant for Anglo-Saxons, which implies their emotional colouring.
The following research methods used in the article: the semantic reconstruction method to restore the ancient or previous meaning of a word, limited by a concrete historical epoch; methods of text and contextual analysis to establish emotive topics and the emotional structure of texts, the method of distributive analysis to consider emotive language tools and their combinations in the texts.
Any research begins with the selection of material that meets the goals. The choice of the Old English Christian poem Exodus, written approximately in the 8th or 9th century, presumably on the Northumbrian dialect ( McBrine, 2017, p. 322), is determined by the archaic epic features preserved in it. The author of the poem carefully selected vocabulary, maximising the impact on the reader, and used numerous synonyms, kennings, metaphors, epithets and allusions.
No less important for our study is that Old English Exodus is not a paraphrase of the original, but a poetic retelling of the history of Israel through the Anglo-Saxon idea of the world, good and evil, heroes and enemies, etc. with Germanic poetic devices.
The choice of Old English
Secondly, the friend-or-foe category is relevant in all societies at all times. Belonging to a group called
Thirdly, even though
To summarize the preliminary results on the dictionaries analysis, we can see that the presented information does not explain
For a better understanding of the probable meaning of the studied word, we need additional information about more archaic word meaning beyond the Old English language, which can be extracted with the help of semantic reconstruction method.
According to Levitsky ( 1994), semantic development of the root, to which
Our previous analysis of three ancient Germanic languages (Gothic, Old English, and Old Icelandic) allowed establishing for
All factors mentioned above indicate that data from various dictionaries and semantic reconstruction of
To confirm our assumption, we start by analysing Old English Exodus. It should be mentioned that in biblical Exodus there were only two lines ( Ex Exodus, 2020, p.13) describing Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea, by contrast, in Old English version 26 lines (from 71 to 97) used to depict it. The content of the passage seems uniquely emotionally coloured. The Lord showed a miracle to Israelites, protected them from the scorching rays of the sun. Traditionally, the phrase
According to the DOE dictionary
The texts and dictionaries analysis showed that the
To summarise: both the wider context and the analysis of the sentence show that all words mainly refer to poetic vocabulary and carry positive emotive components.
The second episode describes the death of Egyptians in the waves of the Red Sea. The sea wave destroyed the Egyptian army and under the onslaught of sea waves similar to an ancient sword,
According to Bosworth (n.d.),
Noteworthy in this regard another context from Exodus, in which not only
Thus, the phrase
It can be assumed that the author intentionally used a word with a clear positive meaning in a situation of sadness and sorrow to enhance the effect.It should be emphasised that for the ancient Germanic poetic tradition, the same words could be used both to describe positive and negative characters ( Zweck, 2019, p.238). Since the special valour for the Germanic people was to defeat not a weak enemy, but namely a strong, brave and worthy warrior ( Melnikova, 2018). Probably, therefore, the phrase understudy ends with
The information given above helps to conclude that besides the main denotative meaning
The study showed the possible use of semantic reconstruction method to identify the emotive meaning of the word. We found that
Researching two of 19 contexts is not enough to set positive/negative emotive connotations in
The reported study was funded by RFBR according to the research project №20-012-00418 А.
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VolumeEpSBS / Volume 86 - WUT 2020