The concept of a linguistic sign - Introduction to Linguistics

The concept of a linguistic sign

§ 17. The definition of a language as a system of special signs implies a certain commonality, similarity of the signs of the language and the above non-linguistic signs, on the one hand, and the specificity, specificity of linguistic signs compared with non-linguistic ones - on the other. Therefore, when explaining the concept of a linguistic sign, it is necessary to take into account both the similarity and the differences between them.

The similarity between linguistic and other non-linguistic signs is manifested in the fact that the signs of a language are characterized, basically, by the same signs as other signs. Language signs have an exponent (signifier) ​​that expresses a certain content, i.e. corresponds to the known signifier, and the relationship between the exponent of the sign and its content is conditional.

Let's illustrate this with the example of such linguistic signs as words.

All words of any language, as well as other linguistic signs, are objects (in a broad sense), sensually perceived material essences that are "made" from sound matter ", in the process of communication, in the flow of speech they appear in the form of sound sequences or individual sounds perceived by the organs of hearing. This sound matter, the sound shells of words and are exponents of verbal signs, their signifiers. Exhibitors of verbal signs, as well as of other signs of the language, serve as a starting point in the process of communication: "The problem of understanding in the process of communication arises precisely because the listener perceives not the thought of his interlocutor as such, but only the material, evokes from him a thought that approximates in its content the speaker's thought to the extent that both of the interlocutors have common language meanings that are fixed in each of them for the material side of the linguistic units egg, which is expressed by the corresponding thought .

Each word as a linguistic sign contains this or that information, expresses a certain meaning or a series of meanings. Thus, for example, the noun forest can be divided into two main values ​​("the area of ​​the land abundantly overgrown with trees" and "cut trees as a building, ornamental, etc. material"), the noun book - three values, the verb drink - four, the adjective green - five, the verb fly - six , for the noun table - seven, etc. The meaning of a word is a signified verbal sign, its content. A word is a sign precisely because it expresses a certain content. "The sound [table]," AI Smirnitsky wrote, "if and while it is carried out without connecting it to meaning, if, for example, it is produced by a gramophone and no one hears it, it is not yet a fact of language (ie of the linguistic sign - B .N .). Only together with the meaning of "table" it is made the word of the United States language, with the meaning "chair" - Bulgarian ".

The content of a word, like any other sign, necessarily differs from the word itself as an exponent of the corresponding sign, its signifier. So, the word the book and the object it designates are completely different things, you can not hold it in your hands, look it over like a book, it does not report any information about the possible volume of the book, its contents, the facts described in it , events, etc .; the word green has neither green nor any other color; the word drink can not quench thirst, etc. Pronounced and perceivable words only cause an idea of ​​the relevant objects, signs, actions, states, relationships, etc. This feature of linguistic signs plays an important role not only in the process of communicating people, exchanging information between them, but also in the process of thinking. According to VZ Panfilov, "the lack of a similarity between the material side of the linguistic unit and its ideal side (designatum) and, consequently, those phenomena of objective reality (the denoter) with which they relate, is a necessary condition for the implementation of the processes of abstraction and generalization , the formation of a generalized designation of the designation ". And further: "The possibility of abstraction and generalization is created only because the material side of language units ... represents objects of one kind or another, with which it does not have any significant similarity or similarity .

Speaking about the specifics of linguistic signs, we can note a number of quite striking features that distinguish the signs of the language from other, non-linguistic signs.

The most visible in a certain sense are external, formal differences between the signs of the language and non-linguistic signs, i.e. differences in the character of the sign's exponent, in its structure, or structure. According to some linguists, non-linguistic signs are characterized as unproductive - in the sense that they are not used to form new signs, while linguistic signs are mostly involved in creating other, more complex signs necessary for expressing more complex content. In other words, the vast majority of linguistic signs are complex, compound, represent all possible combinations, combinations of simpler signs. The possibility of the formation of complex signs of the language by combining more simple signs provides an exceptional abundance and variety of linguistic signs.

As noted above, non-linguistic signs may be complex, but among the latter, simple signs prevail, and complex ones are used exceptionally rarely. According to Yu. S. Maslov, "signs in artificial systems are either not combined at all in the same" message "(for example, the raised and lowered shoulder of a semaphore are not combined), or they are combined in strictly limited frames, and this combination is usually accurately recorded in the form of standard complex signs (compare ... road signs denoting the prohibition of travel to one or other vehicle, prohibition of turning right or left, etc.). " In a language, on the contrary, the possibilities of creating complex signs by combining simpler ones can be said to be unlimited.

The simplest, shortest sign unit of the language is the morpheme ( significant part of the word ). Morphemes directly or indirectly participate in the formation of more complex linguistic signs of all kinds - words, phrases, sentences. In United States, for example, most words are combinations of two or more morphemes. Words, in turn, are constituent parts of word combinations and sentences; The latter can include not only words, but also word combinations. In other words, the complex, composite signs of the United States language, as well as of many other languages, are the majority of words, all phrases and (with rare exceptions such as Yes, No, Stop!) .

Language marks are fundamentally different from many non-linguistic signs by the nature of the relationship between the exponent and the content. As already mentioned above, the exponents of many non-linguistic signs are to some extent motivated by their content; language signs are considered to be deprived of any motivation whatsoever. It is argued that the relationship between the exponent and the content of linguistic signs is highly conditional. According to VM Solntseva, "the signs of the language - sound combinations (sometimes individual sounds) are precisely the highest, developed form of signs, since their connection with the designated (values) is not predetermined." A clear confirmation of this provision can be, in particular, the fact that the same objects, signs, actions, etc. in different languages, as a rule, are designated differently, correlate with different sound complexes; Moreover, there are numerous cases where the same (or similar) sound complex in different languages ​​means completely different phenomena, for example: United States mouth and German curl (red) , United States that and German tot (dead, deceased), German du and Lithuanian du (two ), United States rudeness and Polish grubosc (thickness), United States remember and Polish zapominac (forget).

Due to the lack of motivation for linguistic signs, a close connection is established between the exponent and its content, they seem to merge with each other. When we use this or that word in the course of communication, we do not think about its material side, the sound envelope, we pay attention only to the meaning, we do not seem to notice the sound side of words. There are cases when a bilingualist who is in a multilingual environment accurately retells the content of a telephone conversation that has just taken place, but it is difficult to remember in what language he spoke with the interlocutor, i.e. what specific signs (words of which language) he used at the same time. This fact can serve as another vivid and very convincing confirmation of the conditionality of the connection between the exponent of the linguistic sign and its content.

Language as a natural, spontaneously emerging system of signs is the most common, the most familiar for man sign system. Being, moreover, the most complex, the sign language system differs from artificial sign systems with unlimited possibilities of use both in the sphere of communication and outside it. With the help of linguistic signs, people, in addition to regular communication with each other, form their thoughts, cognize the world around them, etc. With the help of linguistic means, people's feelings are also transmitted, their moods and emotions are expressed, for which signs are used, for example, emotionally colored, stylistically reduced words, emotional evaluation suffixes, etc.

Since the sign system of the language arises and develops naturally, in addition to the will of the people speaking the language, there is a lot of disorder in it, there is no desired (complete and strict) correspondence between the signifiers and their signifiers: "This or that sound does not imply the need for a strictly defined value and vice versa. " This is manifested in the widespread occurrence of such phenomena as polysemy, or polysemy, homonymy, synonymy, variability of linguistic signs, which to some extent complicates the process of communication. There are, of course, some elements of this disorder in some artificial sign systems, as discussed above, but there such cases are extremely rare, one might say, an exception to the rule.

The abundance of different linguistic signs, unlimited possibilities for creating new complex signs by combining simpler ones, expanding the scope of use of signs due to polysemy make the language a universal sign system - unlike any other existing sign systems. Language as a sign system of a special kind serves people in all spheres of their life and activity, without exception, while artificial sign systems are mostly used only in certain spheres of human activity, and with their help narrow special tasks are being solved.

After what has been said about the sign of the language, about its specific properties, one can try to formulate the definition of the linguistic sign, which is a species concept in relation to the sign in general as a concept to the generic one. If a sign is generally understood as a material, sensuously perceived object or phenomenon that expresses a particular content that conveys certain information, then the linguistic sign is a sign expressed by the sound of speech or a complex of sounds of speech.

Compare, for example: "A linguistic sign is a sound or a complex of sounds that is the bearer of a certain linguistic meaning ..."; The linguistic sign is the material unit of the language (sound or graphic complex), reproducing by virtue of the historically conditioned connection the ideal content, which is a reflection of a certain fact of objective reality with possible emotional and volitional layers "; A sign of language is a material ideal education (a two-sided unit of language), representing an object, property, relation of reality ...

§ 18. Any sign of the language expresses a particular linguistic meaning or a certain set of meanings. Well-known, sufficiently studied and described, for example, the meanings of words (lexical, grammatical, word-forming and other), word combinations, sentences, morphemes, etc. The situation is more complicated with the definition of the concept of linguistic meaning in general, irrespective of this or that kind of sign language units. According to some linguists, the generic concept, expressed by the term meaning & quot ;, is generally not determinable. Nevertheless, many linguists are trying to determine the meaning of this concept.

In modern linguistics, various concepts are known in the interpretation of linguistic meaning. The most common of these is the concept that " linguistic meaning is the ideal content expressed by the ideal unit of language ," a unit of thinking representing a certain fact of objective reality (a class of objects and phenomena or an individual object or phenomena - depending on the context), along with possible emotional-evaluative and volitional layers. "

This concept is explained in about the same way in some dictionary sources. Compare, for example: Value ... 1. Displaying the subject of reality (phenomenon, relation, quality, process) in consciousness, becoming the fact of language due to the establishment of its constant and inseparable connection with a certain sound, in which it realizes ... & quot ;; "Value is the content of the linguistic sign .., resulting from the display of the extralinguistic reality in the minds of people."

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