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Collocative meaning

Collocative meaning

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Collocative meaning

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  1. Collocative meaning

  2. Collocative meaning consists of the associations a word acquires on account of the meanings of words which tend to occur in its environment.

  3. Pretty and handsome share common ground in the meaning "good-looking", but may be distinguished by the range of nouns with which they are likely to co-occur.

  4. Girl boy boy man woman car flower vessel pretty garden handsome overcoat colour airliner village typewriter etc. etc.

  5. The ranges may well, of course, overlap: handsome woman and pretty woman are both acceptable, although they suggest a different kind of attractiveness because of the collocative associations of the two adjectives.

  6. Further examples are quasi-synonymous verbs such as wander and stroll (cows may wander, but may not stroll ) or tremble and quiver (one trembles with fear, but quivers with excitement).

  7. Not all differences in potential co-occurrence need to be explained as collocative meaning: some may be due to stylistic differences, others to conceptual differences.

  8. It is the incongruity of combining unlike styles that makes " He mounted his gee-gee" or " He got on his steed "an improbable combination.

  9. On the other hand, the acceptability of “The donkey ate hay", as opposed to “The donkey ate silence", is a matter of compatibility on the level of conceptual semantics

  10. Only when explanation in terms of other categories of meaning does not apply do we need to invoke the special category of collocative meaning. Collocative meaning is simply an idiosyncratic property of individual words.

  11. 2.Weakpoints:

  12. According to Leech,pretty andhandsome both mean“nice-looking”,but their collocative meanings differ,because they co-occur with different words and they suggest two kinds of beauty.

  13. But how do we interpret such words as “good, strong and high” when they collocate respectively with “chance, likelihood, probability, possibility”?

  14. good likelihood strong likelihood *high likelihood *good probability strong probability high probability good possibility strong possibility *high possibility good chance *strong chance * high chance

  15. Leech might say:good goes with “chance, likelihood, possibility”,strong collocates with “likelihood, probability, possibility”,high modifies “likelihood, probability” ,The differences in collocations represent the differences in collocative meaning.

  16. If we say pretty and handsome will give rise to associations about different kinds of beauty,then what kind of “bigness” do “good, strong and high”convey in our mind?

  17. able When “able” is used predicatively, or when it is used as a modifier of another noun,it can be collocated with “very, really, quite”,not the words “perfectly, well, totally”,e.g.

  18. Mary is very (really, quite) able. Mary is a very (really, quite) able student. *Mary is perfectly (well, totally) able. *Mary is a perfectly (well, totally) able student.

  19. But in the pattern,“be able to do sth.”, it can not be collocated with “very”. It can,however, collocate with the words “really, quite, perfectly, well, totally, for example: *Mary is very able to give the lecture. Mary is really (quite, perfectly, well, totally) able to give the lecture.

  20. Leech’s collocative theory is a waste basket theory in the sense that when the combination of words cannot be explained, it will be thrown into the waste basket.

  21. Leech’s definition of collocative meaning seems to be clearcut. But when we use his definition to analyse collocative meaning, we often find it difficult to find a demarcation line between collocative meaning and other kinds of meaning.

  22. First,the seven kinds of meanings are not well defined in that very often there are overlapping between them. Let’s examine Leech’s comment on “pretty and handsome” again.

  23. “Pretty and handsome” share common ground in the meaning "good-looking", but may be distinguished by the range of nouns with which they are likely to co-occur.

  24. Girl boy boy man woman car flower vessel pretty garden handsome overcoat colour airliner village typewriter etc. etc.

  25. Then he points out: “The ranges may well overlap: handsome woman and pretty woman are both acceptable, although they suggest a different kind of attractiveness because of the collocative associations of the two adjectives.”

  26. Leech believes that both “handsome woman” and “pretty woman” are acceptable, but they are associated with different kinds of beauty. In fact, their co-occurrence can also be well explained with reference to conceptual meaning or to connotative meaning.

  27. In his discussion of connotative meaning,Leech points out: “In talking about connotation, I am in fact talking about the ‘real world’ experience one associates with an expression when one uses or hears it.” 见Leech的Semantics: the study of meaning 第12-13页

  28. He cites“woman” as an example,in the past woman has been burdened with such attributes as “frail, prone to tears, cowardly, emotional, irrational, inconstant, as well as gentle, compassionate, sensitive, hard working, etc..”All these have formed part of the connotations of the word “woman”.According to his theory of connotation, we can well conclude that the differences in “pretty’ and “handsome” are different associations that they give rise to in users’ mind.

  29. pretty [+delicacy, +superficial, -manliness,-big, -dignity] handsome [+vigor, +dignity, +big, +manliness] The differences in connotations have affected their collocations or co-occurrence.

  30. From the angle of conceptual meaning, Leech has neglected that the conceptual meaning is often affected by the collocation so that new meanings may be derived from the original meanings of a word.

  31. 事实上,词义发展的主要方式之一就是词与词在同现中词义间的相互影响。一个词初次被创造,一般都是单语义词,由于同现中联想的结果,使得语言使用者会把联想的成分注入到词的理性语义之中,一个词的理性意义就会受到影响。事实上,词义发展的主要方式之一就是词与词在同现中词义间的相互影响。一个词初次被创造,一般都是单语义词,由于同现中联想的结果,使得语言使用者会把联想的成分注入到词的理性语义之中,一个词的理性意义就会受到影响。 就pretty和handsome而言,许多字典编撰人员已经把它们的一些联想语义看成是理性意义的一部分,例如:

  32. handsome: A woman who is handsome has an attractive, smart appearance, especially with features that are large and regular rather than small and delicate and that are considered to show strength of character. • A building ,garden, etc., that is handsome is large and well made with an attractive appearance. (Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary)

  33. pretty: Someone ,especially a woman or girl, who is pretty is nice to look at and attractive in a delicate way. • A place or a thing that is pretty is nice to look • at in a rather conventional or superficial way. (Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary)

  34. handsome: (of a man) good-looking, esp. in having regular, pleasing and well-defined features. 2. (of a woman)fine-looking in a dignified way. 3.well-proportioned, stately, or comely ( Collins English Dictionary)

  35. pretty: 1.pleasing or appealing in a delicate or graceful way… 4. Informal: lacking masculinity; effeminate; foppish • ( Collins English Dictionary)

  36. handsome: 1. chiefly dial: appropriate, suitable 2.moderately large 3. marked by skill or cleverness 4. marked by graciousness or generosity 5. having a pleasing and usu. impressive or dignified appearance (Webster New Collegiate Dictionary)

  37. pretty: 1. artful and clever 2. a. pleasing by delicacy or grace b. Having conventionally accepted elements of beauty c. Appearing or sounding pleasant or nice but lacking strength force, manliness, purpose, or intensity… • (Webster New Collegiate Dictionary)

  38. 就理性意义而言,它的稳定性只是相对的,词的使用一旦与语言语境和非语言语境相联系就会产生许多语用性语义或临时性语义。这些语用性语义有时具有“累加性”,当语用性语义与语境的结合具有一定的稳定性时,旧的语言形式就会与新的内容之间形成超符号关系,产生新的理念语义。就理性意义而言,它的稳定性只是相对的,词的使用一旦与语言语境和非语言语境相联系就会产生许多语用性语义或临时性语义。这些语用性语义有时具有“累加性”,当语用性语义与语境的结合具有一定的稳定性时,旧的语言形式就会与新的内容之间形成超符号关系,产生新的理念语义。

  39. 由于理念语义尚存在动态变化,作为理念语义以外的各种具有开放性特征的附加语义更是如此。如何确定一个词与另一个词的结合属于搭配语义范畴或非搭配语义范畴就很难有一个明确的标准,专家各执己见,莫衷一是。由于理念语义尚存在动态变化,作为理念语义以外的各种具有开放性特征的附加语义更是如此。如何确定一个词与另一个词的结合属于搭配语义范畴或非搭配语义范畴就很难有一个明确的标准,专家各执己见,莫衷一是。 Leech列举了tremble和quiver在搭配语义上的不同,例句如下: 见Leech的Semantics: the study of meaning第17页

  40. Tremble with fear Quiver with excitement 但是字典对tremble 和quiver又是如何定义的呢?

  41. Tremble: to shake involuntarily from fear, excitement, etc. (Longman Modern English Dictionary) to shake involuntarily with fear, anger, cold, physical weakness, etc.) (The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English with Chinese Translations) to shake involuntarily as with cold or fear (Collins English Dictionary) to shake involuntarily as with fear or cold (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)

  42. Quiver: to tremble, to shake with a slight, rapid movement (Longman Modern English Dictionary) to tremble slightly or vibrate (The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English with Chinese Translations) to shake with a rapid tremulous movement (Collins English Dictionary) to shake or move with a slight trembling motion (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)

  43. 从以上可以看出,字典在对tremble进行释义时,语义较为具体、明确,几乎毫无例外都赋予tremble以[fear]的附加语义特征,而在对quiver进行定性时,并没有附加语义特征。从以上可以看出,字典在对tremble进行释义时,语义较为具体、明确,几乎毫无例外都赋予tremble以[fear]的附加语义特征,而在对quiver进行定性时,并没有附加语义特征。

  44. 虽然excitement 并不是tremble和quiver的区别性特征,但是由于人们已明确地把[fear]的附加语义特征看成是tremble语义特征的一部分,因此tremble with fear的搭配便是情理之中。

  45. 在Leech看来,有必要引进搭配意义的概念是因为它们词义之间的语义结合从其它语义关系中得不到解释。但是问题是一个词的理性语义所包含的区别性语义特征并不是一层不变的,词与词之间的搭配以及它们搭配时所具有的语境本身对词的区别性语义特征会产生影响。在Leech看来,有必要引进搭配意义的概念是因为它们词义之间的语义结合从其它语义关系中得不到解释。但是问题是一个词的理性语义所包含的区别性语义特征并不是一层不变的,词与词之间的搭配以及它们搭配时所具有的语境本身对词的区别性语义特征会产生影响。

  46. 在Charlotte Bronte的小说Jane Eyre中,作者共使用了shiver七次,它的搭配以及出现的情景语境都与cold紧密结合,如:

  47. …it was bitter cold, and I dressed as well as I could for shivering, … (chapter 5) • Mr. Mason, shivering as some one chanced to open the door, asked for more coal to be put on the fire,…(chapter 18)

  48. I was burdened with the charge of a little child: a very small creature, too young and feeble to walk, and which shivered in my cold arms… • (chapter 25) • I looked at my love: that feeling which was my master's- which he had created; it shivered in my heart, like a suffering child in a cold cradle; • (Chapter 26)

  49. 正因如此,许多字典已把[cold]这一语义特征附加到shiver的理性语义之中,如:正因如此,许多字典已把[cold]这一语义特征附加到shiver的理性语义之中,如: shiver :to shake or tremble as from cold or fear (Collins English Dictionary) shiver: to shake especially with cold or fear (Longman Modern English Dictionary) shiver: to tremble or shake, as with fear, cold or excitement (The Cassell encyclopaedia Dictionary)

  50. 虽然在The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English with Chinese Translations中可见quiver with cold这一搭配性使用,但是[cold]作为一个附加语义特征还没有注入到quiver的理性语义之中。因此,完全有理由认为,shiver和quiver的以上搭配同样是词汇语义不同的结果。