Towards a Theory of the Semantics of Grammatical Categories
Carl Bache and Carl Bache
6. Categories and Form-Meaning Relationships 133
6. Categories and Form-Meaning Relationships We have already discussed the nature of form-meaning relationships at length (especially in chapter 2), but that discussion was primarily about analytic directionality. We have also (especially in section 2.4) hinted at the problem of defining what is meant by the term 'category', which is crucial for the description of form-meaning relationships. I shall now take a closer look at categories as such and the complex form-meaning relationships involved. 6.1. Formal and Semantic Complexity It is a commonplace in grammar that the relationship between form and meaning is complex. Thus in all languages there are cases where one grammatical form seems to require a description in terms of several meanings, and, conversely, cases where there are several competing expressions for a given meaning (though variation of form tends always to lead to some variation of meaning, cf. e.g. Bolinger 1977). One example is the simple present tense in English, which - among other things - may be used to express a strictly present situation (/know her very well), a future situation (He leaves for Rome tomorrow), a past situation (In 1939 Hitler invades Poland), an occupation (Jack teaches linguistics), a habit (Jill smokes fat cigars), an eternal truth (The sun rises in the east), or serve as a performative (I promise to help her). Conversely, there are in English a number of possible ways of expressing a future situation, each with a subtle additional shade of meaning: e.g. the simple present (He leaves for Rome...
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