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Semantic Analysis of the Word Have Using the Natural Semantic Metalanguage

Januari 10, 2010

One of the Linguistic subfields is Semantics. It is usually understood to be the study of meanings which are encoded in the structure of the language. In modern Linguistics, the meaning is studied by making detailed analysis of way words and sentences that are used in specific contexts. One of Semantic theories is Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM), namely a Reductive paraphrase or Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach is founded on the principles of clarity and simplicity. The basic idea is that we should try to describe complex meanings in terms of simpler ones. The NSM is one of the semantic metalanguages used to state semantic representation including English linguistic form such as “have”.
There are two essential problems for the study, namely (1) What is the meaning of the word Have? and (2) In which context each meaning is used?
The design of this research is qualitative method since the data of this study cannot be treated with statistical procedures as those in the quantitative research. The source of the data is Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Current English and Oxford Advanced Learner’s Encyclopedic Dictionary. In this research, the selected sentences are only the sentences that consist of the word Have.
Having conducted the analysis, I found that there are three different meanings of the word Have, namely Have which roughly means possess or own, which applies to whatever belongs to someone and part of someone or it is used in the context of showing something belongs to someone. Have which roughly means cause or ask. It applies to cause someone to do something or cause something to be done. Have roughly means already. It applies to something which already happened or something which has happened in the past. The context of each meaning of Have is, first, Have roughly means possess or own is used in the context of present tense. Second, Have roughly means cause or ask is used in the context of causative. Third, Have roughly means already is used in the context of Present Perfect Tense. In other words, it can be said that perfective aspect determines the last meaning.

One of the Linguistic subfields is Semantics. It is a wide subject within the general study of language. Semantics is usually understood to be the study of meanings which are encoded in the structure of the language. It is also understood to be the study of the more-or-less stable, conventionalized meanings of linguistic signs. Roughly speaking, semantics deals with meanings which are encoded into linguistic forms. Even more roughly, semantics deals with words and sentences (Goddard, 1998: 15).
The word semantics came from Greek, Sematikos, the “significant meaning” which is derived from Sema, Semeion the “sign, mark” [www.wikipedia.org]. According to Goddard, Semantics, the study of meaning stands at the very center of the linguistic quest to understand the nature of language and human language abilities (1998: 1). Learning and expressing the meaning of the words is what languages are all about. In the past, Semantic debate was largely concerned with discovering exactly the word meaning is. The enquires have undoubtedly increased our understanding of the nature of the problem, but accepted definition of meaning is still argued.
In modern Linguistics, then, the meaning is studied by making detailed analysis of the way words and sentences that used in specific contexts. It is an approach shared by some semanticists. Language without meaning is useless. When a person hears someone speaking without knowing the meaning of the utterances, for him those utterances are not a language. Linguists generally agree that, when people communicate, they do more than just attend to what actually being said by way of words, grammatical constructions and intonation patterns, they are also alert to what is implied. Most words and morphemes in the language have their own meanings. We shall talk about the meaning of words, even though we already know that words may be composed of several morphemes (Fromkin, 1983: 164). Not only do we know what the morpheme of the language are we also know the meaning of it.
Whether we are interested in exploring the connection between meaning and culture, or between meaning and grammar, or simply in exploring meaning for its own sake, the first thing we need is consistent, reliable, and clear method of stating meanings-a system of semantic representation. Not surprisingly, the main theoretical controversies in semantics concern the nature of the optimal system of semantics representation (Goddard, 1998: 3). Dictionaries are filled with words and their meanings, we are a walking dictionary, we know the meaning of thousands of words. But sometimes we still think what the meaning of certain word is even though it is a familiar word for us. Meaning is not an easy thing to get, it is more likely to be abstract. Therefore, the goal of semantic study is to explain how sequences of languages are matched with their proper meanings and placed in certain environments by speakers of the language.
The innovative tool of Natural Semantic Metalanguage analysis allows us to formulate statements of meaning in terms of semantic universals drawn from natural language, to pinpoint word meanings, grammatical meanings and discourse meanings expressed in any language and cultural setting. The Reductive Paraphrase or Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach is founded on the principles of clarity and simplicity (Goddard, 1998: 56). The basic idea is that we should try to describe complex meanings in terms of simpler ones. For example, to state the meaning of a semantically complex word we should try to give a paraphrase composed words which are simpler and easier to understand than the original. This method of semantic description is called reductive paraphrase. NSM starts with a very reasonable observation. We just know that our words and signs have significance. Admittedly, we can not always define them precisely and we are apt to misuse terms on occasion. Anyone who speaks a language has a truly amazing capacity to reason about the meanings of texts. The meaning of a sentence is not just an unordered heap of the meanings of its words, so we need to think about arrangements of meanings.
The NSM approach accepts a stringent standard of descriptive adequacy-the test of substitutability without change of meaning. This means that the ultimate test of a good explication is that the native speakers agree that the explication and the original expression say exactly the same thing (Goddard, 1998: 57). The NSM enables us to examine what is meant by participants in a communication event and hence to identify exactly what meaning are and are not successfully conveyed in an intercultural communication. The NSM is one of the semantic metalanguage used to state semantic representation including English linguistic forms such as “have”.
Have is a general word, and is applied to whatever belongs to or is connected with someone. Knowing the meaning of this word means knowing that it is the most general word. Have generally means to own, to experience, or to posses. Consider, for example, the word Have used in these two sentences: “I have finished” and “I have pencils”. The first sentence means that Have done or have as used in forming in the perfect tenses and the perfect infinitive, the second one is to own or to posses. Have in English varies in terms of meaning depends on the grammar.
The semantic representation of have becomes confusing to English learners. Thus research on semantic representation of have is essential to do. In order to know the meaning of the word Have is, using the innovative tool of Natural Semantic Metalanguage and knowing in which context each meaning is used, I was motivated to conduct the study: Semantic Analysis of The Word Have Using The Natural Semantic Metalanguage.

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