By Lesley Jeffries
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Additional resources for Meaning in English: An Introduction to Language Study
If we write them in phonological transcription, we can see how similar they sound: lspm~bl vs. lpm~k~l/. My version, whilst trying to dredge up the story from my own memory was not so close. I thought to myself It is something like 'bazooka' which in phonological script is lb~zu:bl! e. a bilabial plosive, though voiced instead of unvoiced) and the right consonant, lkl, at the start of the final syllable. If English speakers have words stored away in both semantic and phonological forms, is the phonological storage as arbitrary and meaningless as the alphabetical storage of the dictionary?
A) The lorry hit the (b) Tim kicked John. bus. (b) The lorry was hit by the bus. In the first pair of sentences, the word order is very important to distinguish between Subject and Object position. English relies on word order to signal to the reader /hearer that the noun phrase before the verb is the Subject and any noun phrase following a transitive verb will be the Object. Whilst the words alert us to the kind of event being described (hitting) and to the participants (John and Tim), their arrangement is significant to the meaning of the utterance as a whole.
This relationship does not involve choosing between alternatives, but creates a combination of signs by making a number of choices. The series of holiday choices, taken together, form such a combination which is sometimes called a 'syntagma'. Notice that there are often restrictions which operate between the paradigmatic choices. If you are going to Japan, for example, you probably do not have the choice of spending your holiday on a canal boat. If you want to travel by train, you will probably not go to China (from England anyway) unless you have at least a month's holiday.
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