2. LEECH'S SEVEN TYPES OF MEANING
• Semantics in the broad sense of the term may
be considered to study 'all that is
communicated by language, But some
scholars would like to restrict semantics to
the study of logical or conceptual meaning i.e.
only those aspects of meaning which are
logically acceptable leaving out deviation and
abnormalities. Geoffrey Leech (1981, Ch.2.
p.9-23) in his book semantics breaks down
'meaning' in its widest sense into seven
different types giving primary importance
to logical or conceptual meaning.
3. The seven other types are
(1)Logical or Conceptual meaning
(2) Connotative meaning,
(3) Social meaning,
(4) Affective meaning,
(5) Reflected meaning
(6) Collocative meaning and
(7) Thematic meaning (Leech, 1981, p-23).
Here Leech discusses meaning as a whole
both sentential meaning and word
4. 1.CONCEPTUAL MEANING
• What Leech calls as conceptual meaning
is the same as what other scholars call
'denotative', or 'designative' or
'cognitive' or 'descriptive' meaning.
And this meaning is assumed to be the
central factor in linguistic
communication. Leech considers
conceptual meaning as primary, because
it is comparable in organization and
structure to the syntactic and
phonological levels of language.
5. • The two structural principles that seem
to be basis of all linguistic patterning
• the principle of contrastiveness and
• the principle of constituent structure
are also the basis of conceptual meaning.
• Contrastive features underlay
classification of sounds in phonology. "For
example, in that any label we apply to a
sound defines it positively, by what
features it possesses and also by
implication negatively by what features it
does not possess (Leech,1981, p.9,10)".
6. • The symbol of the English phoneme /b/ can
be explained as consisting of a bundle of
• +bilabial, +voiced, +stop, -nasal
these positive combination of features
differentiate this phoneme negatively
from the phoneme /p/ which has the
• + bilabial, -voiced, + stop, -nasal.
• It is assumed that the distinctive sounds or
phonemes of a language are identifiable in
terms of binary or largely binary contrastive
features. Similarly the conceptual
meanings of a language can be studied in
terms of contrastive semantic features.
7. • For example, the meaning of the English
word woman can be specified as
consisting of the semantic features
+ HUMAN, -MALE, +ADULT.
• This word is differentiated from the word
man having the features
+HUMAN, +MALE, and +ADULT and the
word boy having the features
+HUMAN, +MALE, and -ADULT.
The contrastive features of conceptual
meaning are the same as what Zgusta
(1971, p.27 -29) calls as criterial features
which constitute the designatum of
8. • The second principle, that of
constituent structure, is the principle by
which larger linguistic units are built
up out of smaller units. In other words it
is the principle by which a sentence can
be analysed into its constituent parts.
9. • words and morphemes and at the level of
phonology into constituent phonemes
(sound units), similarly semantic
structure of sentences can also be
• The two principles of contrastiveness and
constituent structure represent the way
language is organized. Contrastiveness
is the paradigmatic or selectional or
'choice' aspect of linguistic structure.
Constitnent structure is the
syntagmatic or combinatory or 'chain'
aspect of the linguistic structure.
10. • Explaining these two aspects in all the
levels of language organization called
phonological (sound structure), syntactic
(sentence structure) semantic (meaning) is
the work of the linguists. This done by
establishing, a‘ phonological representation', a‘
syntactic representation' and a 'semantic
representation' and the stages by which one level
of representation can be derived from another.
• At the level of semantic representation using
abstract symbols and contrastive features.
This will help us what we need to know to
distinguish a meaning of a particular sentence
from all other possible sentence meaning in the
11. 2.CONNOTATIVE MEANING
• Leech calls connotative meaning is the
communicative value an expression has by
virtue of what it refers to over and above its
purely conceptual contents.
• These are the features of the referent or
denotatum or segment of the real world which
are not included in the conceptual meaning.
Of the different features of the referent few
are contrastive or criterial features which
provide the basic criterion of the correct
use of the word. For example, the conceptual
meaning of the English word 'woman' has
the three contrastive features (+ Human, -
12. • From this we infer that the three
properties 'human', 'adult', and 'female'
must provide the criterion of the correct
use of that word. These contrastive
features in real world terms become
attribute of the referent or denotatum.
• This means that all persons to whom the
word, 'woman' is used to refer to will have
the properties 'human', 'adult', 'female'.
But the referent of the word woman will
have a large number of additional non-
criterial properties, which the users of
the word woman expect a referent of
woman to possess.
13. • Such properties include:
• physical characteristics (having two legs,
having a womb etc.,)
• psychological and
• sociological properties (having motherly
instinct, soft nature etc.,). Such properties
constitute the connotative meaning.
• As described above some of these properties
are typical of a woman. There are other
assumed properties or attributed properties
due to the view point adopted by an
individual or a group of people or a whole
14. • For example,
• woman may be considered to have the
properties' weak', 'prone to tears',
'emotional', etc., in addition to the
positive qualities like 'gentle',
'compassionate', 'sensitive', etc.
• The connotative meaning of a word may
vary from individual to individual and
from age to age (periods).
• For example, 'not wearing trousers or wearing
gown or skirt or saree (saree in the Indian
context) would have been the part of the
connotative meaning of woman a hundred
years ago, which is not connotative in the
15. • Leech's (1981) connotative meaning is
concerned with the real world experience one
associates with a linguistic expression one uses
or hears. Connotative meaning is peripheral
when compared with the conceptual
• It is also relatively unstable as it varies
according to culture, historical periods and
experience of the individual.
• Connotative meaning is indeterminate and open
ended. This is because this depends upon the
knowledge and beliefs of the speakers and may
belong to any characteristics of the referent, real
or imaginary as identified by the speaker. But
conceptual meaning consists of a closed set of
features which are finite in number.
16. • Leech's definition of connotative
meaning is quite different from Zgusta's
connotation as a component of lexical
meaning and John Lyon's use of
connotation in contrast to
denotation. What Leech calls social and
affective meaning are included by Zgusta
(1971) under connotation. Lyon's and
others call affective or emotive,
meaning as connotation.
17. 3.SOCIAL MEANING
• These two meanings are concerned with
two aspects of communication which
are derived from the situation or
environment in which an utterance or
sentence is produced in a language. Of
these two, social meaning is that
information which a piece of language
(i.e. a pronunciation variation, a word,
phrase, sentence, etc.,) conveys about
the social circumstances of its use.
18. • Social meaning is understood through
the recognition of different dimensions
and levels of style within the same
language. Aspects of language variation
like social or regional dialect variation,
style variation like formal, informal,
colloquial, slang etc., discussed as
belonging to connotation is treated here
as social meaning
19. • here Leech includes under social
meaning variation in all the aspects of
language structure like pronunciation,
intonation, sentence structure etc., as
revealing social meaning.
• Not only the difference between English
synonyms, died, pass away, decease
and kick the bucket and Tamil
synonyms caa, iRa, kaalamaaku,
all meaning to 'die' which belong to
different style but also the difference in
the pronunciation of the Tamil verb 'to
tell' as in the forms,
20. [sonnă:] 'said he' (standard dialect)
[čonnă:) 'said he' (Dalit-speech)
[sonnă:) 'said he' (Kongunad dialect)
where stress (Dalit speech) and pitch variation (Kongunad dialect) mark
the dialect identity of the speaker belong to social meaning.
Under social meaning Leech (1981 ,p, 15) also includes" what has been
called the illocutionary force of an utterance: for example whether
it is to be interpreted as request, an assertion, an apology, a
threat etc". In a social situation a functional meaning of a sentence
may differ from its conceptual meaning due to its illocutionary force.
For example while eating at restaurant, if one says.
(1) I haven't got a knife
this sentence which has a form and meaning of an assertion, in social
reality it has the force of a request such as 'Please bring me a knife'.
In the Tamil social situation while eating at a wedding feast, when
(2) pakkattu ilaikku paayacam pooTunka
'Please serve sweet liquid pudding to the next leaf (person)’it has the
implied social meaning 'Please serve sweet liquid pudding for me
21. • 4.Affective meaning
• Affective meaning is the aspect of meaning which
“reflects personal feelings of the speaker,
including his attitude to the listener or his
attitude to something he is talking about"
(Leech, 1981, p.15). As emotive meaning and
included as part of connotation as a component of
lexical meaning but
• Leech includes as in the case of social meaning,
not only differences in the use of words or lexemes
but also factors of intonation and voice-timber
referred to as tone of voice. When someone wants
to ask a group of people speaking loudly to be
quiet, he can say either of the following two
(3) I am sorry to interrupt; would you be so kind as
to lower you voice a little?
22. 5.REFLECTED MEANING is the meaning
which arises in cases when a word has
multiple conceptual meaning or
polysemous, when one sense of a word
forms part of our response ( or reaction)
to another sense.
23. • Especially in some cases of a word with
taboo meaning people find it difficult
use them even in the general meaning.
The English words cock, contact, and
erection which have tabooed senses
connected with the physiology of sex are
avoided by people even in their general
• The extreme case of this kind of reflected
meaning, is completely replacing the
word cock by the word rooster in
24. • In Tamil onRukuppoo 'urinate',
reNTukkupoo pass motion are originally
euphemisms for the corresponding tabooed
synonyms. Now these words themselves
are used for joking when they are used in
the general sense like onRukku 'for one
thing' and reNTuKKu 'for two things'
connecting them to their euphemistic
(word or phrase substituted for one
considered offensive) meaning.
25. 6.Collocative meaning - consists of the
associations a word acquires on account of
the meanings of words which tend to occur
in its environments (Leech, 1981,p.17).
The English words pretty and hand some
having the common meaning 'good-
looking' differ by the range of nouns with
which they co-occur or collocate though in
some cases they overlap.
27. • What Leech calls collocative meaning
is the component range of
application. The Tamil words paati and
arai meaning 'half of something’ for
collocative meaning. The collocative
meaning is an idiosyncratic property of
28. ASSOCIATIVE MEANING
• Of the six types of meaning - except the conceptual
meaning the other five i.e. connotative meaning,
social meaning, affective meaning, reflected
meaning and collocative meaning have something in
common. These meanings have open ended and
variable character. They can be analyzed in terms of
varying scales or range. They cannot be analyzed in
clear-cut either-this -or-that terms.
• Therefore, Leech groups all these under the heading
of associative meaning (Leech,1981, p.18). While
conceptual meaning is part of the 'common system'
of language shared by members of the speech
community, associative meaning is less stable and
varies with the individual's experience.
29. 7.THEMATIC MEANING
Thematic meaning is that "what is communicated by
the way in which a speaker or writer organizes the
message, in terms of ordering, focus, and emphasis"
(Leech, 1981,p.19). For example, in English a
sentence in the active voice differs from its passive
voice equivalent in thematic meaning though both
the sentences have same conceptual meaning,
(5) Mr. Smith donated the first prize
(6) The first prize was donated by Mr. Smith
Of these two sentences, (5) the active sentence seems
to be the answer for the implicit question "What did
Mr. Smith donate", while the passive sentence (6)
seem" to answer the implicit question "who donated
the first prize". (5) in contrast to (6) suggests that we
know Mr. Smith while (6) implies we do not know
Mr. Smith but only that someone donated the first
30. Thematic meaning is mainly a matter of choice
grammatical constructions. Eg.
(7) A man is waiting in the hall
(8) There is a man waiting in the hall
(9) naan neRRu kantanaip paartteen
'I saw Kandan yesterday'
(10) 'naan neRRu paarttatu kantanai'
'whom I saw yesterday is Kandan'
Sometimes, difference in thematic meaning
brought about by ordering and emphasis can
also be the result of substitution of words or
lexemes. For examples, this happens when
English belongs to substituted by owns. Eg.
31. (11) My brother owns the largest hotel in the
(12) The largest hotel in town belongs to my
(13) raakul naanku uNavu viTuti naTattukiRaar
'Raghul runs four restaurants'.
(14) raakulukku naanku uNavu viTutikaL
'Raghul has four restaurants'
The thematic meaning can also be expressed
by means of stress and intonation to
highlight information in one part of a
32. DEMARCATION PROBLEM
Leech who has classified meanings into seven types
which are discussed above, points out that
sometimes there are problems in 'demarcating' or
separating one type of meaning from the others. An
examination of the following sentences will make
(17) He stuck the key in his pocket
(18) He put the key in his pocket
(19) avan caTTaip paiyil paNattai tiNittukkooNTaan
'He stuffed the money in the shirt pocket'
(20) avan tannuTaiya caTTai-p-paiyil paNattai
'He kept the money in his shirt pocket'
33. 1. CONCEPTUAL MEANING Logical, cognitive or denotative I
2.CONNOTATIVE MEANING what is communicated by virtue of what
language refers to .
3. SOCIAL MEANING what is communicated of the social
circumstances of language use.
4. AFFECTIVE MEANING What is communicated of the feelings and
attitudes of the speaker / writer
5. REFLECTED MEANING What is communicated through association
with another sense of the same expression.
6. COLLOCATIVE MEANING What is communicated through association
with words, which tend to occur in the
environment of another word.
THEMATIC MEANING What is communicated by the way in which
the message is organized in terms of order