In stylistics meaning assumes prime importance. Because meaning is applied not only to words, word-combinations, sentences but also to the manner of expression. At certain moment meaning was excluded from observation in language science because it was considered an extra-linguistic category. The term “semantic invariant” was proposed as a substitute for meaning by R. Jakobson. The main problem of meaning which deals with is the interrelation between meaning and concept, meaning and sign, meaning and referent.
Contextual meaning is a meaning viewed as a category which is able to acquire meanings imposed on the words by context. In stylistics is important discriminate shades and nuances of meaning, the components of which are called semes. Lexical meaning differs from grammatical meaning. Lexical meaning refers to some concrete concept, phenomenon or thing of the objective reality (real or imaginary). Grammatical meaning refers to relations between words or constructions. It is also called “structural meaning” Polysemanticism is a linguistic category .
We perceive meaning as a representation of a definite concept by means of a word. But we state that the same concept may be expressed by different meanings that belong to the same word. Words have polysemantic meaning (several lexical meanings) . It becomes a crucial issue for stylistic studies to observe the multitude of meaning. And that is not limited in the dictionaries and no matter how rich in meaning a word may be leaves the door open for new shades and nuances and even for independent meanings. Semiotics is the science that deals with the general theory of signs.
A sign is a material object (phenomenon, action) appearing in the process of cognition and communication in the capacity of a substitute of another object(s) and used for receiving, storing, recasting and transforming information about the object. The signs are used in a system and that system is called a code. Sign’s conventional, arbitrary character is one of its most important features. The language system follows a certain distinctive features and they are : after been established it circulates for some period of time and it becomes resistant to substitutions.
The definition of a word is a unit of language functioning within the sentence by its sounds or graphic form expresses some notion. Words are capable of enriching its semantic structure by acquiring new meanings, or also could losing old meanings. The very nature of the word causes a difficulty to be explained the semantic structure. In stylistics a word has almost no limit for acquiring new meanings, whereas in lexicology is restricted.
And here comes the issue well-known contradiction between the scientific (abstract) perception of a phenomenon and the secondary artistic perception of the same phenomenon. Max Born, a physicist, has it somewhat differently : “The representatives of one group do not want to reject or to sacrifice the idea of the absolute and therefore remain faithful to everything subjective. They create a picture of the world which is not the result of a systemic method, but of the unexplained activity of religious, artistic or poetic expressions of other people.
Here reign religious zeal, aspirations to brotherhood, and often fanaticism, intolerance and the suppression of intellect…The representatives of opposing group, on the contrary, reject the idea of the absolute. They discover frequently with horror that inner feeling cannot be expressed in comprehensible forms. ” Adjectives are more abstract in meaning than nouns. Adverbs are considered to be more abstract than adjectives. Conjunctions and prepositions got higher degree of abstractness. Meanings could be divided into three types: logical, emotive and nominal.