Conceptual meaning in Semantics

What's Conceptual meaning?

Conceptual meaning is sometimes called denotative meaning or cognitive meaning, it is widely assumed to be the central factor in linguistic communication. Larson noted that denotative meaning is also called as primary meaning, that is the meaning suggested by the word when it used alone.

It is the first meaning or usage which a word will suggest to most people when the word is said in isolation. it is the meaning learned early in life and likely to have reference to a physical situation.

The denotation of word is its agreed-upon sense-what it refers to, stands for, or designates, a part from the feeling it may call up, and this again is able for a good deal on the context the words that appears in.

It is said that the aim of denotative meaning is to provide, for any given interpretation of a sentence, a configuration of abstract symbols, in which shows exactly what we need to know if we are to distinguish that meaning from all other possible sentence meaning in the language. 

Conceptual meaning is also called logical or cognitive meaning. It is the basic propositional meaning which corresponds to the primary dictionary definition. Such a meaning is stylistically neutral and objective as opposed to other kinds of associative meanings.

Conceptual Meanings are the essential or core meaning while other six types are the peripheral. It is peripheral in as sense that it is non-essential. They are stylistically marked and subjective kind of meanings.

Leech gives primacy to conceptual meaning because it has sophisticated organization based on the principle of contrastiveness and hierarchical structure.
/P/ can be described as- voiceless + bilabial + plosive.
Boy = + human + male-adult.
The hierarchical structure of
‘Boy’ = + Human + Male-Adult
“Boy” =Human – Male/Female-adult in a rough way.
Conceptual meaning is the literal meaning of the word indicating the idea or concept to which it refers. The concept is minimal unit of meaning which could be called ‘sememe’. As we define phoneme on the basis of binary contrast, similarly we can define sememe
‘Woman’ as = + human + female + adult.
If any of these attribute changes the concept cease to be the same.

Conceptual meaning deals with the core meaning of expression. It is the denotative or literal meaning. It is essential for the functioning of language. For example,
a part of the conceptual meaning of ‘Needle” may be “thin”, “sharp” or “instrument”.
The organization of conceptual meaning is based on two structural principles- Contrastiveness and the principle of structure. The conceptual meanings can be studied typically in terms of contrastive features.

For example the word “woman” can be shown as:
“Woman = + Human, -Male, + Adult”
On the contrary, word “Boy” can be realized as:-
“Boy = “+ human, + male, - Adult”
By the principle of structure, larger units of language are built up out smaller units or smaller units or smaller units are built out larger ones.

The aim of conceptual meaning is to provide an appropriate semantic representation to a sentence or statement. A sentence is made of abstract symbols. Conceptual meaning helps us to distinguish one meaning from the meaning of other sentences.

Thus, conceptual meaning is an essential part of language. A language essentially depends on conceptual meaning for communication. The conceptual meaning is the base for all the other types of meaning.
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