APPLICATION OF DIMENSIONS OF MEANING ON JAMES JOYCE’S A PORTRAIT OF ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
SUBJECT: SEMANTICSTOPIC: APPLICATION OF DIMENSIONS OF MEANING ONJAMES JOYCE’S A POTRAIT OF ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN CHAPTER 1 SUBMITTED BY: ABIDA PARVEEN MARRIYAM TARIQ FATIMA GUL SITARA AYAZ SUBMITTED TO: MAM NIGHAT SHAKOOR DATE: DEC18, 2012
It is the flesh and blood of man that he wants to communicate or express his feelings andthoughts with his fellow beings. To accomplish this purpose, he has been blessed with the facultyof language. Language, whether in form of speech or sign, serves as a source or tool ofcommunication. It, being a vast field of study, is divided into a number of branches. Semantics isone of the sub fields of language that throws light on the understanding of meaning. Generally, itcovers the areas of dimensions of meaning, lexical relations, semantic roles and language in use.Dimensions of meaning are a significant component of semantics which includes numerousaspects such as: reference and denotation, connotation, sense relation, lexical and grammaticalmeaning, morphemes, homonymy and polysemy, lexical ambiguity and sentence meaning.Hence, by having knowledge about all these dimensions of meaning and all other areas ofsemantics, any person, whether he is a foreigner or native speaker will be in a position tocomprehend the message in a better way.This project focuses on the depiction of roll of dimensions of meaning in semantics or towardsthe understanding of meaning. It aims at the application of these dimensions on the first chapterof the modern novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. Textual exampleswith proper justification have been selected to determine the roll of these dimensions. Finally, itemphasizes on the idea that to which extent dimensions of meaning contribute towards thecomprehension of communication.It has been concern of every person belonging to any field of life, that he may convey hismassage in such a way that is interpretable or comprehensible for the receiver of the information.In order to investigate about all the factors upon that are crucial for understanding of meaning,the discipline of semantics developed. The word, „semantics‟ is derived from the Greek word„semantickos‟ which means „significant‟. It is a scientific branch of linguistics that deals with theinterpretation of meaning at morphological or word level, lexical level, and at sentence level. Itthrows light on relationship between different words and different sentences that whether thesewords and sentences have part-whole relationship, or they are conveying similar meaning, orthey are expressing opposition. It focuses on the idea that what role each word has in a sentence,according to the varying circumstances. Moreover, natural and conventional signs, bodylanguage, facial expressions, and cultural knowledge are some of the other features that enhancethe ability of understanding any given message. On account of dealing with numerous spheres of
language, semantics is closely related to the fields of morphology, phonology, syntax andpragmatics. In short, the knowledge of semantic enables people to explore the sense of meaningin a better way.The question of successful convenience of meaning has always gained attention by all the peoplebelonging to different ages. But, during the period of enlightenment or neo-classicism severalsteps were taken for the development of study of meaning. It is the age in which the art ofwriting dictionaries was introduced. Scholars like Dryden and Sheridan wrote completedictionaries of English language with proper spelling. Then, this era is also marked for thebetterment of pronunciation. Later on, these improvements gave birth to the field of semantics asa separate discipline of linguistics.Dimension of meaning make a large part of semantics. There are innumerable dimensions ofmeaning that contribute towards the understanding of meaning. However, some of the significantdimensions are reference and denotation, connotation, sense relation, lexical and grammaticalmeaning, and homonymy and polysemy.The very first and basic aspects that determine the study of meaning is reference and denotation.Reference is an act of referring towards something. As language is a combination of thousandsof words, so each of these words is linked to something, object event, activity and descriptionoutside the language. When human beings communicate with one and other first of all they formconcept in their minds after seeing any entity and then with the help of linguist expressions theytry to interpret the meaning of that object. This idea of reference can be understood in light ofmentalist theory given by Ogden and Richards‟s in1923.in view of this theory, basically there arethree terms; word, concept, object that are closely related to one another. In order to understandthe meaning, relation among these three terms has to be learned. According to mentalistperspective the relation between word and concept is an association. The name of reference hasbeen suggested for the link between concept and object. The term of meaning depicts the relationbetween actual entity and word. So reference is a connection between concepts, objects andwords provides a means by which human beings express their relation according to the particularcontext to understand the exact meaning of some phenomenon.
Denotation is derived from the Latin word „denotare‟. It conveys the general meaning of a wordand it denotes the relation of word with any phenomenon outside the language. According toformal semantics by Ronnie denotation is “the association of linguistic expression withpublically identifiable entities and situation “out of the domain of language.In short reference deals with link between concepts and objects while denotation talks about thegeneral aspect of meaning, acceptable for all people, of any word and these both serve as a mainfactor to enable people to communicate successfully.Another aspect under the discussion of dimensions of meaning is connotation. This word hasbeen originated from the Latin word „connotare‟. It deals with all the feelings, emotionalassociations‟ and positive as well as negative opinions that people attach with any word. It talksabout the beliefs and values related to any linguistic expression. It is a personal view of lookingat objects and events. However connotative aspect of meaning can be impersonal in the sensethat some common beliefs about events and situations are shared by all the people of any society.Then even some words can have similar connotation for the people of whole world. In addition,connotative qualities can be changed with the passage of time. This perspective of meaninggenerates critical thinking. Moreover one society can have positive feelings about certainphenomena while the other community can have negative experiences attached to similarobjects. Thus, connotation enhances the knowledge of people about anything through which theyare able to derive meaning from different words ant different situations.One of the key factors of understanding of meaning, about which people should have knowledge,is sense relation. It is the relation of different word s with one and other in a sentence. It assertsthat each word in a sentence has its appropriate place and all the words in a sentence are unitedin such away that the sentence becomes an organic whole. Then if one word is removed from thesentence or its place is changed, either the sentence becomes anomalous or it changes itsmeaning. This sense relation varies from situation to situation .Any single word conveys somemeaning but it has no sense .it conveys a sense when it is placed with any other word. So, eachword in a sentence has some kind of link with the words that come before and after this word in asentence.
There are two kinds of linkages that depict the relation of one word with another word in asentence.First type of link is called syntagmatic relation. It is the relation in which two words in asentence are mutually connected with one another in a sequence that, both are affecting eachother and together these words are contributing to convey the sense of the sentence. This relationis also known as chain relation and horizontal relation because in this relation words areplaced in a line.The other kind of relation among words is paradigmatic relation. R.F.Palmer, in his bookSemantics has defined paradigmatic relation in light of De-Saussure‟s ideas. According to De-Saussure‟s, paradigmatic relation is a relation where “a linguist unit enters through beingcontrasted or substitutable, in particular environment, with other similar unit”. It is also calledthe relation of choice and vertical relation, for in it, any person can chose some words from thelist according to his choice.Hence, words are either syntagmatically related or they have paradigmatic association with otherwords and the appropriateness of each word at its proper place serves as an emblem to derivemeaning from any linguistic expression uttered at a particular time in particular context.In order to sort out or solve the problem of understanding of meaning, lexical and grammaticalmeanings are the other leaves of the tree of dimensions of meaning. Any linguistic expressionsmay have lexical as well as grammatical meanings.Lexical meaning deals with the proposition of any sentence. According to it, generally sentencecontains two parts two parts. One is called referring expression which means linguisticexpression at phrasal level. The object or entity outside the language, to which this referringexpression refers, is the referent of this referring expression. Another meaningful part of asentence is its predicate. It is an action or activity performed by referent and it has some sort ofrelation with the phenomenon outside the language.Grammatical approach also helps to understand the meaning. Every language of the world hasa complete system of grammatical rules different from any other language. In light of these rules,the meaning of any word or sentence can be investigated. Various sentences with same referring
expression and predicate can have different meanings in grammatical view. Parts of speech,affixes and function words provide numerous possibilities of looking at any sentence.In short, people having knowledge about lexical and grammatical approaches can easilyovercome the difficulty of interpreting any sentence or word.Awareness about homonymy and polysemy of any language also plays an important part toillustrate the meaning. As every word is a combination o0f form and meaning, it is necessary todifferentiate between the words having similar form in order to understand their meaning.Homonymy has its origin from the Greek word „homonumous‟ which means „having the samename‟. Homonyms are the words that have identical pronunciation as well as spellings, but theyconvey different meanings according to the particular circumstances. Act of studying abouthomonyms is called homonymy. Sometimes, some words have same spellings but they arepronounced differently. Such words called homographs. At times, words have identicalpronunciation but they contain different spellings. These words have acquired the name ofhomophones and process of getting information about these words is termed as homophony. Inall these three cases, two words have some sort of similarity, either in spelling or inpronunciation or in both; but their meanings are totally different from one another.On the other hand, polysemy is an act of studying those words in which two or more than twowords have similar spellings and pronunciation and, they have somehow related meanings.Hence, these reference and denotation, connotation, sense relation, lexical and grammaticalmeaning, and homonymy and polysemy are some of the theoretical aspects of dimensions ofmeaning suggested by linguists. Each of these, has its own role to play in the study of meaningand due to all these features, semantics is a systematic study of meaning.A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce is modern novel that deals with artisticdevelopment of an artist from his childhood till his dream of becoming an artist is fulfilled. In thenovel, the life experiences of Stephen Dedalus, the hero of the novel, are substantiated.Especially, his attitude towards religion, his artistic approach towards different things andsituations, and his intellectual sort of nature, are the themes that occupy dominant position inentire text.
Chapter one of the novel, focuses on the childhood experiences of life of Stephen. Basically, inthis chapter, his hostel life and his life at home are the main targets of discussion. In thebeginning, his parents go to leave him in hostel for studies at Clongwoes College by advisinghim „never to peach on a fellow‟ and „never to play with rough boys‟. While living in hostel,every thing seems sad and strange to him. He is unable to eat, to rest, to play and to study thelesson. He is found to be „struggling amid the throng of players‟. At one, Wells shoulders himinto the squire ditch. Consequently he suffers from fever and he has to go to infirmary. Duringholidays, he comes home where he observes „bad language‟ against „god and religion andmorality. „After holidays, he again comes to Colognes College. Here one day father Dolan giveshim punishment during the class of themes on account of not writing his lesson; for his glassesare broken. Father Dolan calls him “lazy, idle little schemer “for what is not his fault. Then, hegoes to the rectors office to complain against father Dolan. Going to the rector‟s office is an actof bravery and on account of this courageous act he becomes the centre of attention for all theboys. Hence, the numerous experiences of his childhood with his family, friends, classmates andteachers are depicted in chapter one.The very first aspects related to the topic of dimensions of meaning are reference and denotationwhich are also applicable on the novel a Portrait of an artist as a Young Man. The novel openswith the narration of a childish story about the cow and baby tuckoo by Stephen told to him byhis father. He says, “There was a moocow coming down along the road” and later on thismoocow meets a little boy called baby tuckoo. Here, some sort of connection is found betweenactual things and their concepts, and between these concepts and words. It is to be noted thatafter seeing a cow (an entity outside the language) performing an action of coming down alongthe road (place outside the language), Stephen creates a mental picture of this scene. Then, a linkor reference is developed between the actual situation and the concept of scene. Now through hiswords he conveys his contextual picture of the scene before other people and through thesewords, other people are able to understand the meaning of that situation. It is the link betweenthings and concepts and then between concepts and words due to which people interpret themeaning of certain linguistic expression. Without this linkage it will be difficult to understandthe meaning. Alone words or concepts or entities are not enough to convey meaning. When thesethree terms are linked together, then meaning is understood.
The idea of general meaning or denotation can also be seen easily in entire chapter one of thenovel. While discussing his feelings about his mother and father Stephen says “His mother had anicer smell than his father”. Here these words covey a general meaning. Each of these words islinked with some phenomenon or concept outside the language. In this sentence, each separateword like “mother, had, a, nicer, smell, than, his, father” denotes a general meaning that isacceptable or understandable for all the people of the different countries. If this sentence or eachword separately is translated from English into any other language, then that sentence or wordwill refer towards the same information contained in this sentence. The words may be different,but they will refer towards the same entities or concepts. Thus, the general acceptability ofmeaning by all people of the world is main factor to communicate successfully with people.Another dimension of meaning for which novel has enough place, is connotation. In the novelwhen Stephen comes home to celebrate Christmas Eve, at the time of dinner, his parents, UncleCharles, Mr. Casey and Dante discuss about various affairs. They share their ideas about Parnell.It is the name that elicits a general meaning. It refers towards the person who bears this name.But this name Parnell has different connotations for different people. On one hand, Mr. Dedalusand Mr. Casey have positive feelings about Parnell. As in the text one of them says, “PoorParnell, my dead king”. In their view, he is the king of the Ireland who has guided people and heis the leader who has won many battles for the security of his nation. Even he has sacrificed hislife for the love of his nation. On the other hand Dante has negative connotations about this heroof Ireland. In her view, “he was a public sinner. Woe be to the man by whom the scandalcometh” says Mrs. Riordan “it would be better for him that a millstone were tied about his neckand that he were cast into the depths of the sea rather than that he should scandalize one ofthese, my least little ones”. These remarks connote her hatred against Parnell. In her view he is atraitor to his country and he has misled the people. Hence, in the eyes of some people, Parnell isa great man worthy to be admired and respected. While for other people, he is an enemy of hispeople and he has been rightly punished.Similarly, at the time of dinner, the views of Mr. Dedalus, Mr. Casey and Dante, regarding Godreligion and church, have different connotations. On one side Dante‟s remarks, “I‟ll defend mychurch and religion when it is insulted and spit on by Renegade Catholics”, connote her deepemotional associations with religion and church. She is a strict follower of rather blind follower
of the church. In her view whatever priests say or do is right. In edition here the word churchconnotes a place of worship for Christian people. On the opposite side, some people havedisrespectful ideas about God and religion. Mr. Dedalus‟ remarks,” we have had too much god inIreland, away will god”, illustrate his blasphemy against teachings of religion provided by god. Itappears that he is a believer of reason rather than a believer of a system of set beliefs given byreligion. He has no value of religious teachings in his eyes. In addition, here the word god hasdifferent connotations for different communities. Some societies worship idols accepting them asgod. Some believe in no than one god, while the others accept god as the sole sovereign of theuniverse. In fact, connotative perspective gives birth to numerous sources of interpreting themeaning of any given message.A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, also through light on the importance of sense relation inthe study of meaning. In the novel when Stephen shares his ideas about his class ofmathematics, here sense relation can easily be noted. He says,” father Arnall wrote a hard sumon the board………… he was not good at sums but he tried his best so that York might not lose”.Here, in these sentences, all the words have their own set places and all the words are conveyingsense by co-operating with one another. For instance, if one word like “wrote” is removed fromthe sentence, then the whole sentence, “father Arnall a hard sum on the board” will becomesenseless or anomalous. Then if the places of these words are changed such as, “wrote sum afather Arnall” even then it will lose its sense and it will not be understood.Similarly, in the next sentence “he was not good at sums, but he tried his best so that York mightnot lose”, all the words like “he, was, not, good” etc. are united together. If some words areexcluded from the sentence such as “he was not at sums, but he his best so that might not lose”,then this sentence gives no sense. In his senseless sentence, it is not depicted that what is theprogress of Stephen at sums. It is not conveyed that what he has done to win for his team. Lateron, it is also missing that for which team he is desires to win. Hence, this union of words helps agreat deal to convey the right meaning of the sentence.This novel is replete with the example of syntagmatic relation. In the text, when Stephen tries tolearn his lesson of geography he reads the words written by Fleming on his book. These wordsare “Stephen Dedalus is my name. Ireland is my nation. Clongwoes is my dwelling place”. These
sentences are tied together in a syntagmatic relation. In the first sentence, “Stephen Dedalus ismy name”, all the words are placed in a line or sequence, coming one after another. Here in thisline each word is linked to other word. For instance, the words “Stephen and Dedalus” havesome sort of relation, for these two words serve as a name of person who bears this name. Then,this name is united with „is and my‟ which shows possession. It has also relation with the word„name‟ which is a source of identity. All these words in this sentence have link with each otherand combing together in a relation these words contribute towards the understanding of meaningof this sentence.Paradigmatic relation appears at a number of places in the novel. At the end of first chapter,Stephen receives punishment from father Dolan for not writing his lesson. He is humiliated onthe idea of getting punishment before the whole class. His remarks are: “it is unfair and cruel tomake him kneel down in the middle of the class”. In this sentence two words areparadigmatically united together. Here, “unfair and cruel” have paradigmatic link. It is the matterof choice that these words can be replaced with some other words like “unjust and harsh”.Moreover, form these two words, one word like „cruel‟ can also be used. So, whether thesewords are replaced with other words or one word is selected, at any rate these words have linkwith other words like “make, him, in the, middle, class” etc. and all these words are playing theirrole to convey the sense of the sentence.Some other, perspectives of understanding the meaning is lexical and grammatical meaning.These both approaches appear in first chapter of the novel written by James Joyce. In the novelStephen suffers from fever after falling into the ditch by Wells. Prefect of study comes to checkhim that whether he is really sick or he is just pretending. At this situation Stephen‟s remarks are:“no, no he was not foxing”. In this sentence lexical approach of meaning can be observed “hewas not” is a referring expression because it consists of which have some link with thephenomena outside the language. Then, “he” (Stephen) is a referent to which these words arereferring. „Foxing‟ is a predicate. It consists of some action performed by referent (Stephen).Thus, lexical perspective generates the ability to better understand the meaning of any language.Grammatical perspective is another area about which this novel gives depiction. In the text,Stephen being a child is unable to understand the ideas about the power of God in the universe.
He expresses his desire to be like the people who can understand all the philosophical concepts.He says “when would he be like the fellows in poetry and rhetoric”. This sentence can beanalyzed grammatically. Here “would” is a model verb. It also shows his desire of becoming likeolder people. “He” is a pronoun is as well as subject. “Be” is the example of function word. “in”is a preposition. “Poetry and rhetoric” are playing the role of objects. By adding function wordsand parts of speech, there are many possibilities to convey the information contained in thissentence containing one lexical meaning can have a large number of grammatical meanings. Inshort, these two approaches prepare the way for understanding the meaning to a great extend.Some other dominant features found in the novel in respect of study of meaning is homonymyand polysemy. In the text, are various examples of homonymy .In the beginning, while recallinghis recalling his early childhood memories, Stephen says to himself, “when you wet the bed, firstthat is warmed then it gets cold”. Later on at the time of dinner at Christmas eve, Mr.Dedalusserves whisky to Mr. Casey before eating meal by saying “a timblefull ,john ,just to wet yourappetite “. In these two sentences the words „wet‟ is an example of homonymy. In bothsentences, this word has same spelling as well as pronunciation, but it contains different meaningin both sentences. In the first sentence, its meaning is “something watery or opposite of dry”. Butin the second sentence it contains the meaning of reducing appetite to some extent.Similarly at one time in the novel it is depicted that “he opened his geography to study thelesson” in the next part of the chapter this situation appears that “he was flied out in the studyhall after others”. In these sentences the word study is an instance of homonymy. It has identicalspellings and pronunciation but different meanings are conveyed in both sentences. In the firstsentence it conveys the meaning of learning lesson. While in the next sentence, it correspond themeaning of a room where all the children study. Thus, homonymy is a other way ofunderstanding meaning.Homophones are also found in the first chapter of the novel. At one occasion Dante expressesher feelings about Parnell by saying that “he were cast in to the depths of the sea”. In the laterpart of the chapter, when Father Dolan gives punishment to the boys in class of themes, herewhile flogging Fleming, he utters the words “I could see the trick in the corner of your eye.” Inboth sentences, the words „sea‟ and „see‟ are the instances of homophones. These have similar
pronunciation but their spellings are different from one another .then their meanings are alsototally different. In the first sentence, the „sea‟ has the meaning of ocean. But in the secondsentence „see‟ is giving the meaning the meaning of observe and look. Thus homophones haveimportant place in determining the meaning of linguistic expression according to the givencontext.Instances of polysemy are also presented in the first chapter of the novel. In the text, Stephendefines chapel of Clongwoes College as “strange and holy place”. After coming to know aboutthe theft of boys he calls this sin of theft as “a terrible and strange sin.” when he goes to therector‟s office to complain against Father Dolan, he describes the atmosphere of office by sayingthe words of “strange and solemn smell.” In these three sentences, the word „strange‟ is theinstance of polysemy. In these sentences this word has identical pronunciation as well asspelling. Then this word spoken at three different times, has somehow related meaning. In threesentences, it conveys the meaning of a thing or situation which is not easy to define. it createsconfusion . Hence polysemy provides a chance to better interpret the meaning.Makingcommunication successful. People having knowledge about all these dimensions can bettercommunicate, interpret, express and understand any information.On the whole, all these aspects are different bricks of the wall of dimensions of meaning and itis the wall of the room of semantics is one of the rooms of house of language. As without bricks,walls and rooms, there is no concept of house , similarly these dimensions of meaning and theknowledge of other feature of semantics are basic steps to communicate effectively.