CRASH COURSE IN LINGUISTICS FOR TEXT-DRIVEN PREACHING

 

A CRASH COURSE IN LINGUISTICS

LINGUISTICS – The study of the structure of language, including phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.

PHONOLOGY – The identification and classification of all sounds used in a given language.

LEXICON – Vocabulary of a language

GRAMMAR – The study of the forms and structure of words (Morphology) and their arrangements in phrases, clauses and sentences (Syntax). Also, a system of rules relating morphology and syntax.

MORPHOLOGY – The study of the structure of words; the classification of word formation including inflection, derivation, prefixes, suffixes, roots, etc.

SYNTAX – The study of the arrangement of words as elements in phrases, clauses, or sentences to show their relationship.  Study of phrase, clause and sentence structure.

SEMANTICS – The branch of Linguistics concerned with meaning, its nature, structure, and development.

TRANSLATION – The transfer of meaning from one language to another.

SOURCE LANGUAGE – The language we are translating – Greek, Hebrew

RECEPTOR LANGUAGE – The language we are translating into – English

SURFACE STRUCTURE – The form of a text which includes phonology, lexicon, and grammar.  Words, phrases, clauses, sentences, etc. are a language’s surface structure.

SEMANTIC STRUCTURE – The content of a text which includes its meaning.

MEANING – All the relevant information that is transmitted by an act of communication (spoken or written).  (See under “Types of Meaning” below)

 

TYPES OF MEANING

REFERENTIAL MEANING: that which is being talked about; the subject matter of a text.

SITUATIONAL MEANING: information pertaining to the participants in a communication act (environment, social status, etc.)

STRUCTURAL MEANING: arrangement of the information in the text itself; the grammar and syntax of a text.

 

Illustration of the 3 types of meaning in the following sentence:

DAVID OWNS A CHEVY PICKUP.

Referential Meaning – David, a pickup truck; a relationship that exists between them,

namely, ownership. This sentence is about these things.

 

If the sentence reads:  “David owns a Chevy clunker.”  …

Situational Meaning – the referents have not changed, but with the substitution of

“clunker” for “pickup” we learn something about the attitude of the speaker toward the pickup and possibly toward David. In the first sentence nothing is said about the attitude of the speaker; not so in the second sentence.

 

If the sentence reads: “He owns a Chevy pickup.”

Structural Meaning – same referents but “he” is linked to another sentence in context not given here.  Furthermore, the structure within this sentence is:

He                   =          pronoun functioning as Subject

owns              =          verb

a                        =          indefinite article modifying “pickup”

Chevy             =          adjective modifying “pickup” describing kind

pickup            =          noun functioning as the object of the verb

Tags: , ,


5 thoughts on “CRASH COURSE IN LINGUISTICS FOR TEXT-DRIVEN PREACHING

  1. Dr. Allen,

    If all we had were the second sentence about the clunker, we cannot really understand the situational meaning you suggest. We wouldn’t even know that the Chevy owned by David is a truck; it could be a clunker sedan. Now, since the second sentence is in a context where a prior sentence told us it was a truck, we can surmise that the clunker is a truck, but it still could be an additional vehicle that he owns.

    Furthermore, there seems to be very thin support in the second sentence for your assertion about the attitude of the speaker. The speaker may be very objective, perhaps even making a statement that David himself would wholeheartedly agree with. Now if we had other information, say about the tone of voice of the person who spoke, or his facial expression, or his relationship with David, or his job (new car salesman?) we would have more support for your assessment of situational meaning. As it stands, I don’t see how you can assert that we know the attitude of the speaker.

    Even though the second sentence does not give us solid evidence for your assessment, it does point in another direction. Namely, it tells us about the condition of the truck. It is not new, and it is not even fair or good. It is junk. That much is plain on the face of the text.

    I think it is important to say what I’ve said here because we need to be careful to find the meaning in the text itself, and not speculate about the situation surrounding the text unless the text tells us what that situation is.

    What do you think?

    –Matt

  2. These terms pervade commentaries and Biblical literature with the assumption that we are all linguistic technical specialists. Your summary is concise and clear and much needed. Thanks.

  3. Matt,

    Thanks for your comments.

    My illustration is a simple attempt to demonstrate the concepts. Sentences two and three are meant to be read in the context of sentence one.

    The second sentence is meant primarily to demonstrate the attitude of the speaker toward the truck. You are correct, without further context, it is “thin” to determine the speaker’s attitude toward David.

    You said: “I think it is important to say what I’ve said here because we need to be careful to find the meaning in the text itself, and not speculate about the situation surrounding the text unless the text tells us what that situation is.”

    I agree completely. Anything beyond the text is speculation situationally unless we are told more about the situation in the text or in some other venue. My point is merely to show that “situational meaning” is a part of the context of all discourse to some extent, whether known or unknown.

    For preaching purposes, we should stay with the text.

    Thanks for dropping by!

    David

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *