Biosemiotics and Prototype Semantics in Understanding Lexical Polysemy: Implications for Applied Linguistics

Biosemiotics and Prototype Semantics in Understanding Lexical Polysemy: Implications for Applied Linguistics

Авторы: Новиков Дмитрий Николаевич, Песина Светлана Андреевна
Novikov, D.N., Pesina, S.A. Biosemiotics and Prototype Semantics in Understanding Lexical Polysemy: Implications for Applied Linguistics // The magic of innovation. New techniques and technologies in teaching foreign languages/Edited by Dmitry A. Kryachkov, Elena B. Yastrebova, Olga A. Kravtsova. Newcastle upon Tyne, 2015. P. 275 - 294


    The paper makes a case for the practical application of a new approach to investigating the nature of lexical polysemy, which is based on the tenets of bio-cognitive linguistics.



    Language  learners  are  known  to  have  difficulty  in  remembering  numerous  senses  of polysemantic  words.  With  this  in  mind,  mechanical  enumeration  of  all  possible  contexts  in which a word may appear is not a very productive way of vocabulary acquisition, as  it requires of a student much cognitive effort and considerable resources of memory.



    The authors’ approach to lexical polysemy is premised on the concept of language as a biological  phenomenon  based  on  semiotic  processes  connected  with  a  human’s  adaptive behaviour both in a natural and social environment. As a result of languaging experience, a semiotic system of lexemes takes shape in a human mind, with one form corresponding to one meaning only. Such meanings are invariant to all lexical-semantic variants to be found in dictionaries and serve as a sort of “prototypes” of all senses to be found in actual discourse.



    The  paper  articulates  the  criteria  for  identifying  systemic  meanings  of  polysemantic words. The proposed method provides a word ‘formula’, which remains unchanged in the stream of meaning variations.



    Dictionaries and “active vocabulary lists” in language coursebooks might,  in turn, start  their  vocabulary  entries  with  systemic  meanings  in  order  to  enhance  students’ understanding of all contextual senses of a word and their ability to distinguish a word from its homonyms and synonyms, thus allowing for a more effective acquisition and active use of  the word whenever the speech context corresponds with the features of the given prototype. Holding in mind such prototypes is no less important in the work of  translators and interpreters, who may often fail to find the exact contextual equivalent of a word in bilingual dictionaries.



     



Ключевые слова: polysemy, lexical invariant, lexical prototype, cognitive linguistics, meaning, vocabulary acquisition
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