Lexical meaning

every word (lexical unit) has . . . something that is individual, that makes it different from any other word. And it is just the lexical meaning which is the most outstanding individual property of the word. (Zgusta, 1971:67)

The lexical meaning of a word or lexical unit may be thought of as the specific value it has in a particular linguistic system and the ‘personality’ it acquires through usage within that system. It is rarely possible to analyse a word, pattern, or structure into distinct components of meaning; the way in which language works is much too complex to allow that. Nevertheless, it is sometimes useful to play down the complexities of language temporarily in order both to appreciate them and to be able to handle them better in the long run. With this aim in mind, we will now briefly discuss a model for analysing the components of lexical meaning. This model is largely derived from Cruse (1986), but the description of register (2.2.3 below) also draws on Halliday (1978). For alternative models of lexical meaning see Zgusta (1971: Chapter 1) and Leech (1974: Chapter 2). According to Cruse, we can distinguish four main types of meaning in words and utterances (utterances being stretches of written or spoken text): propositional meaning, expressive meaning, presupposed meaning, and evoked meaning

Mona Baker (1992) In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation, Routledge: London and New York, pp. 12-13.

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