Baltic accent

2023 Vol. 14 №1

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“They call the main entrance a porch”: social meaning in semantics and metapragmatics



The paper analyzes the concept of social meaning, which has been conceptualized in lexi­cal semantics since the 1980s and has become central in modern sociolinguistics and linguis­tic anthropology. It has been used to describe pragmatic increments in the meaning of a lan­guage unit, which it receives in context. New explanatory approaches have developed from a sociolinguistic perspective in metapragmatics, where social meaning is seen as a social index that emerges in context. Social index (the index meaning of a sign) refers to typified social situations and social roles of participants of a communicative act. Social meaning is actual­ized when it can be interpreted in social interaction as being used to express certain connota­tions. This analytical review presents a contemporary conceptual apparatus and toolkit that enables linguists to describe the social perspective in constructing meaning and interpreting meaning formation in social contexts. The empirical material for the analysis reflects the con­temporary sociocultural and discourse practices using the example of linguistic variability in Russian. The analysis of the Russian nouns “paradnaya” and “pod’ezd” shows how a lan­guage sign acquires a stable indexical character and is used to express social attribution.


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