Scientifically speaking, the lexical meaning of the word — is the content of the word is displayed in the minds of view about the subject property, process or phenomenon. In simple words — this is what the word stands for. Glossary of any «live» the language is changed every day and replenished with new lexical meaning has long been known to us the words. Word tend to have more than one lexical meaning. For example, the word «language» also has several lexical meanings:
- speech, the ability to speak
- historically established system of sound vocabulary and grammar tools
- a system of signs (sounds, signals) that transmit information
You could even say that the more often the word is used in everyday life, the more value it has. There are many reasons why the words change their lexical meaning. One of the biggest is the very nature of the language, which involves the acquisition of new words, meanings, depending on the life situations in which they are used. Also, change the lexical meaning of the word under the influence of cultural and socio-cultural changes in society speakers.
Science lexicology highlights such trends as the lexical meaning of the word:
- extension of the word (extension of meaning or generalization)
- narrowing of the word (narrowing of meaning or specialization)
- improvement of the word (elevation of meaning or amelioration)
- the deterioration of the word (degradation of meaning or pejoration)
Now lets proceed with every trend separately.
Extension of the word (extension of meaning or generalization)
Extension of the word refers to the expansion of a number of words with the same lexical meaning. This means that the original word in the language had only one lexical meaning and was used in a narrow sense, and now it has a broader meaning, and has more than one lexical meaning, it has become more frequently used in speech. For example:
- The English word originally meant only wretch exile (exile), and now it refers to any miserable or vile person (of any accident or despicable person).
- Word barn originally meant only a place for storing barley (barley storage space), now this word means «any barn, shed or barn.»
- The word paper originally stood an Egyptian plant (Egyptian plant), and now this word refers to «any type of paper.»
- The word originally meant a journal daily (daily newspaper), and now the word is used to mean «any periodic publication».
- The adjective originally stood ready prepared for a ride (ready to ride), is now the word has a broader meaning and refers to «ready for anything».
Narrowing of the word (narrowing of meaning or specialization)
In the process of narrowing the wide meaning of the word value becomes narrow, special. In other words, the original variety of objects or phenomena known as a word, but with the passage of time the word became known only one object or phenomenon. For example:
- The English word deer, which originally meant «any beast», now means only the «deer».
- The word girl, which originally meant «any young person of either sex, girl or boy», now represents only the «girl.»
- The word wife, which was once meant just «any woman», now acquired the narrow meaning of «wife.»
- Word of meat, which originally meant «eating or drinking» in general, now represents only «meat».
- Word worm, which once meant «any insect or reptile», now means only a «worm.»
Improving the word (elevation of meaning or amelioration)
In the process known in English as the elevation of meaning or amelioration word with the original meaning of the word negative over time to improve it and become a positive. For example:
- The English word originally had a negative nice value foolish (stupid), and eventually acquired a positive meaning «cute.»
- Word fame once meant rumour (rumor, rumor), now acquired the value of «glory.»
- The word originally meant marshal horse-servant (the groom), and now the word means «the highest military rank in the army.»
- Word minister once mattered servant (servant), and now it is «important public face.»
- Word chiffon initially mattered a rag (rag), and eventually acquired the meaning «chiffon».
- The word actor in Shakespearean times perceived as an insult to rogue (bastard) or vagabond (a tramp), in our own times, the word has significantly improved its lexical meaning, which today sounds like «actor».
Deterioration of the word (degradation of meaning or pejoration)
The process, known in English as the degradation of meaning or pejoration, is the opposite of the process of improving the value of words and meaning of the word implies a change for the worse. Decent words take on a negative or even offensive meaning. For example:
- The English word idiot originally had a positive value a private person (individual), over time it has acquired a negative connotation the word «fool.»
- Word silly previously meant happy (happy), and now has acquired a negative connotation «stupid.»
- The word originally meant sommon vulgar, ordinary (common), and over time acquired the meaning «vulgar, rude.»
- The word gossip originally stood for a god parent (godfather, godmother), and today has become to «gossip.»
- Churl word originally meant «man», and the confluence of the time gained to «rude, ill-mannered person.»
Changing the meaning of the word is an established regularity language. Without the existence of science lexicology and trends prevailing in it any «live» the language has evolved to be «dead.»