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Sample text

An example of pejoration is silly, which formerly meant ‘deserving sympathy, helpless or simple’, but which has come to mean ‘showing a lack of good judgement or common sense’. An example of amelioration is the history of the word knight, which originally meant ‘boy, servant’, and thus indicated a considerably more lowly social position than it does now. Two further remarks need to be made. First, pejorative and ameliorative changes may or may not be accompanied by denotational changes. The shift that leads boor from ‘peasant, farmer’ to ‘unmannered man’ is simultaneously a shift of denotational and of emotional value.

The dialectic relationship between language structure and use implies a contextualist view of meaning: meanings are modulated in the context of actual language use; that is how an okkasionelle Bedeutung comes into existence next to the usuelle Bedeutung. But the notion of context is obviously fairly broad: how exactly should it be filled in? There are two specific approaches that we will now historical-philological semantics 21 focus on: a sociosemantic one, which gives a sociological interpretation of the contextualist aspects of historical-philological semantics, and a communicative one, which gives a pragmatic interpretation.

This is a question we will have to come back to a number of times in the course of our story, and as we will see, it involves some of the basic underlying differences of opinion within lexical semantics. Gefühlswert, on the other hand, played a more direct 20 theories of lexical semantics role in the further development of historical-philological semantics. To begin with, as in Jaberg (1901, 1903, 1905), Schreuder (1929), Van Dongen (1933), the different ways in which the emotive value of a word may change need to be incorporated into a classification of semantic changes, and the specifics of the developments need to be described.

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A Grammar of the Mongol Language by Chinggaltai


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