Теория и методика профессионального образования | Мир педагогики и психологии №5(22) Май, 2018

УДК 378

Дата публикации 16.05.2018

Некоторые аспекты преподавания английского языка в высшей школе

Пехова Дарья Игоревна
Ст. преп. Департамента языковой подготовки,Финансовый университет при Правительстве Российской Федерации, РФ, г. Москва, Lazobik@msn.com

Аннотация: Данная статья рассматривает вопросы, связанные с особенностями преподавания иностранного я зыка в высших учебных заведениях на примере группы прилагательных вкуса. Речь идет об особенностях этой лексико-семантической группы, о роли контекста в понимании значений этой группы прилагательных, употребленных в их переносном значении. Автор представляет собственную классификацию прилагательных вкуса в зависимости от объекта, который они характеризуют, а именно: прилагательные, характеризующие неодушевленные объекты и абстрактные идеи; прилагательные, характеризующие человека; прилагательные, характеризующие физические особенности человека и его речь; прилагательные, характеризующие человека, его особенности, а также неодушевленные объекты и абстрактные идеи. Приводятся результаты тестирования студентов на предмет понимания значений прилагательных вкуса, употреблённых в их переносном значении в контексте.
Ключевые слова: прямое значение, переносное значение, лесико-семантическая группа, метафорический перенос значения, преподавание, контекст, перевод, коннотация

Some aspects of teaching English to high school students

Pekhova Darya Igorevna
Senior teacher of Language Training Department, Financial university, Under the Government of the Russian Federation, RF, Moscow

Abstract: This article looks into some aspects, connected with teaching English to high school students on the example of a group of the adjectives of taste. The peculiarities of this lexico-semantic group are discussed in the article as well as the role of the context in the understanding of this group of adjectives, which are used in their secondary meaning. The author provides her own classification of adjectives of taste depending on the object that they characterize. These are the adjectives that characterize the inanimate objects and abstract ideas; the adjectives that characterize a human being; the adjectives that characterize physical peculiarities of a human being and his speech; the adjectives that categorize a human being, his peculiarities as well as the inanimate objects and abstract ideas. The article provides the results the students have shown in the course of testing their ability to understand the meaning of the adjectives of taste used in their secondary meaning.
Keywords: primary meaning, secondary meaning, lexico-semantic group, metaphorical transfer of meaning, teaching, context, translation, connotation


The meaning of a word has always been in the spotlight of the language experts. Very frequently, many words in the English language realize their emotional or valuation function in the context. This is the fact that should be taken into consideration while teaching English. To prove this fact a test, including 20 phrases and word combinations with adjectives of taste, was offered to some students. About 14% of the students coped with 70% of the offered tasks which corresponds to 14 correctly fulfilled phrases and word combinations; 14% coped with 65% of the tasks which corresponds to 13 correctly fulfilled phrases and word combinations; 43% coped with 45% of the offered tasks which corresponds to 9 correctly fulfilled phrases and combinations and finally 29% coped with 40% of the tasks which corresponds to 8 correctly fulfilled phrases and word combinations. 

Judging by the results of the test it can be deduced that students find it difficult to make out the meaning of the isolated word combinations with adjectives in their secondary meanings as some adjectives in the English language can form some additional meanings of the word on the basis of the metaphorical transfer of meanings. I addition, the regular formation of the new secondary meanings is performed on the basis of the primary meaning of the word.

Therefore, in this article, the focus of attention will be mainly concentrated on the peculiarities of teaching some specific aspects of English adjectives and mainly adjectives of taste.

 The adjectives of taste as a rule refer to an ancient vocabulary of the English language. This group of adjectives means important characteristics of material reality and possesses a greater semantic content and a wide possibility of combination and, besides, the vocabulary of the lexical minimum of every native speaker.

As far as the adjectives of taste are concerned, it should be taken into account that they are used more frequently in their secondary meaning rather than in their primary one.

It is suitable to divide the adjectives of taste in their primary meaning into the general valuation adjectives, which give the general characteristic of taste, and into the particular valuation adjectives that mean specific taste qualities, which are inherent in certain products and dishes. For example, bitter, palatable, salty, sour, spicy, sweet, tasty, tasteless, etc. Such adjectives as cheesy, fishy, fruity, meaty, milky, and vinegary refer to particular valuation adjectives.

The possibility of a word to organize in different lexico-semantic paradigms and the syntactic combinations with other words simultaneously is caused by the possibility of its various meanings to establish different associations.

In modern linguistics all the meanings of a polysemantic word are not considered to be the independent units as there is a certain connection between them. So, a word can be used in its different meanings in order to create a particular image. In this way the adjective “sweet” in the word combination “sweet time” acquires a valuation character.

Thus, the semantic attribute, which unites two or more meanings of the given word doesn't form the element of its own meaning as it isn't the composite element of that concept, which is reflected by means of the meaning of the word in its concrete meaning. And the basis of the description of the words in their secondary meaning is the context which should always be stressed when teaching English to students. The stability of the meanings of the adjectives of taste depends on the frequency of their usage and the stability in the mind of the speaker.

Due to the associative connections of the adjectives of taste they are used to pass the attribute of taste and to characterize the inanimate objects and abstract ideas as well as to denote certain qualities and the state of a human being, his physical signs, moral features and signs, which characterize his behavior and activities.

The adjectives in their primary meaning of taste carry a positive assessment in their secondary meanings. The most important peculiarity of assessment is that it is always characterized by the presence of a subjective factor.

Thus, assessment is the connection between the subject and object. These relationships are often based not on the objective attributes of the real world. They are based on the certain world-view norms and the inclination of a human being to approve of something that is connected with the sphere of interests. The descriptive component of the adjectives of taste or their primary meaning is focused on their own attributes of the objects. Moreover, the subjective component of the given adjectives or the secondary meaning suggests either positive or negative attitude of the subject of the reality.

It can be asserted that evaluation runs through all meanings of the word as far as the adjectives of taste are concerned. The valuation component is understood as showing a positive or negative judgment about what it names, in other words it is the approval or the disapproval.

A word in its one and the same meaning when used in the same linguistic context can have different connotations, depending on the communicative situation.

Evaluation runs through all secondary meanings of the word of the adjectives of taste in the English language and due to the valuation elements in their semantic structure synonyms occur [3, p.79].

Synonymy is minimal or is absent as far as the descriptive meanings are concerned. It appears on the base of the development of a special role of valuation elements.

Moreover, some adjectives of taste can carry a positive or negative assessment, depending on the conditions of the communicative act.

Due to the associative connections the adjectives of taste can serve as a characteristic of the inanimate objects and abstract ideas as well as a characteristic of the moral features of a human being, his behavior and activities.

The adjectives of taste can be divided into four groups according to their reference. The first group of adjectives characterizes inanimate objects or abstract ideas:

e.g.: juicy gossip  a juicy prize

The second group characterizes a human being, his moral features, appearance: e.g.: a luscious young starlet

The adjectives that characterize person's actions, physiological peculiarities and his or her speech refer to the third group:

e.g.: acid remarks

a sour look

milky skin

honeyed words

The fourth group has united adjectives that can refer to the inanimate objects and abstract ideas as well as to the characteristics of the moral features of a human being, his actions, peculiarities of speech and physiological peculiarities:

e.g.: a sweet smile

Revenge is sweet.

How sweet of you to remember my birthday!

Thus, the following classification can be demonstrated by means of the following table:

Таблица 1. Four groups of the adjectives of taste used in their secondary meaning

The adjectives that characterize the inanimate objects and abstract ideas

The adjectives that characterize a human being

The adjectives that characterize the physical peculiarities of a human being and his speech

The adjectives that characterize a human being, his peculiarities as well as the inanimate objects and abstract ideas

Cheesy

Juicy

Piquant

Palatable

Salty

Savory

Spicy

 

Luscious

Vinegary

Acerb

Acid

Acrid

Bland

Fishy

Fruity

Honeyed

Milky

Pungent

Sour

Succulent

Sugary

Tart

 

Bitter

Insipid

Meaty

Peppery

Saccharine

Sweet

Tasteless

Tasty

 

 

So, this classification proves that the secondary meaning of the majority of the adjectives of taste are wider in their primary meaning and that they spread in different spheres of the objective reality, in other words, on the world of things, abstract ideas and the sphere of human relationships and actions.

The valuation factor leads to the expansion of the semantic potential of an adjective and weakens its denotable meaning. And in this way it divides the meaning of adjectives into positive and negative, pleasant and unpleasant, good and bad. And due to this fact the adjectives of taste of the given lexico-semantic group establish the connection between other groups.

Thus, the adjectives “pretty” and “tasty” while analyzing their meanings are not semantically connected and are related to different lexico-semantic groups. If to take into consideration the secondary meaning of the adjective “tasty”, the adjectives “pretty” and “tasty” can be regarded as synonyms, which are related to one lexico- semantic group. The only vivid difference between these adjectives is the sphere of their usage. The adjective “pretty” is neutral in the style of its usage while the adjective “tasty” is typical in colloquial speech and some informal situations.

Thus, we can state that with the help of the valuation factor the adjectives of taste in the English language have especially close ties with the following groups of adjectives:

1)      the adjectives that characterize a human's appearance. So, the synonyms “luscious”, “sweet”, “tasty” in their valuation meanings can be related to the lexico-semantic group of adjectives such as “attractive” and “beautiful”;

2)      the adjectives that characterize the speech and words of a human being. For example, the adjectives “acerb”, “acid”, “acrid”, “peppery”, “pungent”, “tart” are synonymic to “critical”, “ironic” and “sarcastic” in their secondary meanings and are related to the lexico-semantic group that is unified by the integral sign of “unfriendly”. The adjectives “honeyed”, “saccharine”, “sugary” and “sweet” can be related to the adjectives that characterize the speech of a human being and another lexico-semantic group. It should be pointed out that the given group of adjectives can be antonymous to the preceding group of adjectives that includes the adjectives “acerb”, “acid”, “acrid”, “peppery”, “pungent”, “tart”. Therefore, the valuation factor provides the ability of the adjectives of taste to form antonymic relationships within the lexico-semantic group and other lexical units. So, due to assessment the word combination “a luscious girl” can be antonymous to the word combination “a plain girl” or “an acid review” in the relation to the word combination “a favourable review” [1, p.91].

The psychological ability of a human being in its different manifestations such as mental ability, speech, senses, is the base for interaction and unification of the observed lexico-semantic groups [2, p.16].

The sense expansion of an adjective, regular formation of a new meaning is performed on the basis of the primary or initial meaning of an adjective. It has been proved that the majority of the adjectives in the English language with the primary meaning of taste also have the secondary or derivative one. It should be pointed out that assessment is inherent in all the observed adjectives. But this valuation occurs and develops on the basis of the primary meaning of the adjectives of taste. So, for example, the adjective “sugary” in its primary meaning means “having an extremely tasty flavour”. This attribute and, to be exact, the intensity of the attribute is transferred to the secondary meaning of the given adjective. It should be pointed out that the adjectives of taste in their primary meanings have distinct differences. The differences in their secondary meanings are not so noticeable and the element of a negative assessment occurs in the spotlight. Thus, in the examples “acid wine” and “the pungent aroma of garlic” the adjectives have vivid differences and can't be regarded as synonyms, while in their secondary meanings they are interchangeable. Both adjectives can be rendered in the same way in the word combinations such as “an acid comment” and “pungent remarks”.

But we have to point out that the similarity of the distinguisher of the adjectives of taste and the occurrence of such valuation characteristics as positive-negative, good- bad, in the majority cases characterize the adjectives that carry a general assessment in their primary meanings. The valuation adjectives of frequency on the contrary have a tendency to formation of the distinctive, narrow secondary meanings [2, p.9].

Palatable - something such as an idea, suggestion, etc. that is palatable is acceptable or pleasant.

But fruity - AmE. inf. (of people) slightly crazy [5, p.409].

Or meaty - inf. containing a lot of interesting ideas or information [5, p.1022] .

e.g. The lecture wasn't very meaty.

One more important moment is that if adjectives in their primary meanings always preserve their attributes then they are not contextually connected. But their secondary meanings realize their emotional or valuation function only in the context. The adjectives of taste in their secondary meaning on the contrary are characterized by some particular attributes. The adjectives of taste in their secondary meanings are related to the world of things. So, the distinguishing peculiarity of the secondary meanings of the observed adjectives is their ability to perform the valuation function, which is connected with the characteristics of a human being and his actions.

The changes in the general character of assessment influence the changes in the lexico-semantic transposition of the adjectives of taste. If the adjectives of taste are used in their primary meanings all the adjectives in the sentence will also be the adjectives of taste. For example:

The chief was a good chief and he leapt the opportunity afforded to send up dish more rich, tasty and succulent than the other [4, p.879].

...but he always had a set of dinner with soup and fish, entree, roast, sweet and savory, so that if he wanted to ask anyone in the last moment he could [4, p.1474].

Frank's great sallow face sagged a little and looked with distance at the dry, insipid sole on her plate [5, p.198].

If the adjective of taste is used in its secondary meaning the reorientation of the following adjectives, that are the homogenous parts of the sentence, takes place.

He was very sweet and young and good-looking[5, p.916].

She wasn't exactly a girl, she was blonde and luscious... [5, p.209].

English was too frank, too candid, too honeyed a speech for Sasha [5, p.478].

One more important peculiarity of the valuation meanings of the adjectives in the English language is the morphological attribute (the absence of the comparative constructions in the majority of cases of their usage).

One of the most vivid differences between the primary and secondary meanings of the adjectives of taste in the English language is the presence of the stylistic component in the valuation sphere of the given adjectives. The initial meaning of the adjectives of taste is neutral in the style usage and can be used in the academic voice, in journalistic as well as colloquial speech. But the valuation meaning of the given adjectives has the limitations in their usage.

Thus, the assessment of the adjectives of taste in the English language, which influences the development of the semantic potential of the given adjectives and the formation of synonymic rows within a lexico-semantic group and out of it, develops on the basis of the primary meaning of the adjectives of taste. It also influences the style of the text in which the given lexics is used.

Thus, the analysis of the meaning of the word has been one of the most important tasks of lexicology over a period of several years. The meaning of taste is quite diverse and can vary according to a simple taste or the composite one in order to show the intensity of taste. What is more the status of some adjectives in the network of a group is not the same. The adjectives of taste are used regularly and purposely in speech in their secondary meanings. The adjectives of taste in the English language can form the additional meanings of the word on the basis of the metaphorical transfer in meanings. Besides, the regular formation of the new meanings is performed on the basis of the primary meaning of the word.

It has been pointed out in the article that the primary meanings of the adjectives of taste are not connected contextually. The secondary meanings of the observed adjectives acquire the character that is more abstract due to its valuation component, which is inherent in the secondary meaning of the adjectives of taste in the English language. It should be also pointed out that the negative component of the assessment of some adjectives of taste can be defined only from the communicative situation, the experience of the speaker and the conditions of the speech act. And this fact is explained by means of the subjective character of assessment.

Moreover, due to the abstract character of the secondary adjectives they have distinct differences in their primary meanings and can unite different synonymic rows or just vice versa they can form the oppositional relationships within a group and establish close ties with other adjectives of different lexico-semantic groups. Thus, all these factors should be taken into consideration when teaching English to students. A student should be taught to analyze the context to make out the meaning of a word, especially if one deals with adjectives of taste.


Библиографический список

1. Ивашкевич И.Н. Семантические компоненты «вкус» и «запах» в лексическом значении имен существительных // Теория коммуникации. Языковые значения. МГЛУ – Мн.: 2002. – с.90-92.
2. Кислицина Н.Н. Прилагательные co значением обобщенной положительной оценки как фрагмент языковой картины мира. Автореф. Дис.канд. филолог. Наук Киевск. Нац. Линг. Ун-т – Киев, 2002. – 20с.
3. Разуваев М. В. Осязание как модель вкуса // Социальная власть языка: Сб. науч. Трудов. – Воронеж, 2001. – с.76-81.
4. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. – Spain, Barcelona: Pearson Education Ltd., 2000. – 1996p.
5. The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary. – Oxford: Oxford ‘university Prcs-o, 2000. – 1722p.

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