Emotive Meaning The content of the word consists not only of the aggregate of lexical meanings. Some additional meanings also exist in the content of the word. These additional meanings are named in different terms: “emotive meanings”, “connotative meanings”, “stylistic meanings” etc. These additional meanings, unlike lexical meanings, do not have reference directly to the things or phenomena of the objective reality, but they refer to the feelings and emotions of the speaker towards these things or to his emotions. These emotive meanings are fixed in most of dictionaries and are components of the semantic structure of words as well as the lexical meanings of these words.
Some words with emotive meanings have lost their logical meaning and function in the language as interjections. Such words as “alas”, “oh”, “ah”, “pooh”, “gosh ’ and the like have practically no logical meaning at all; words like “the devil”, “Christ”, “God”, “goodness gracious”, etc., are frequently used only in their emotive meaning. The same can be said about the words bloody, damn and others.
Emotive meanings of words play an important role in stylistics. Writers use the words with emotive meaning for definite stylistic effects, thus calling the attention of the reader to the meaning of such words.
Many words acquire an emotive meaning only in a definite context. In that case we say that the word has a contextual emotive meaning.
The following words have also emotive meanings:
1. Interjections: O! Alas! Hey! Yogh! Gosh!
2. Exclamatory words: Good! Well! Look out! Hur- rah! Hear, hear!
3. Oaths and swear words: Upon my word! The devil! Christ! God!
4. Qualitative and intensifying adjectives and adverbs: awfully, terrible, wonderful, dreadful, fine, fantastic, terrific.
Let us see the following examples:
1. “How horrible unjust of you”, cried Lord Henry (O. Wilde)
2. “Oh, this is becoming an awful bore for you... Thank you all the same, it is awfully sweet of you”. (H. Bates).
The emotive meaning of the italicized words is stronger than the logical meaning and we may say that they have lost their logical meaning and retained their emotive meaning.
Another class of words with emotive meaning has lost their logical meaning and function in the language as interjections. Such words as alas, oh, ah, pooh, darn, gosh and the like have practically no logical meaning at all; words like the devil, Christ, God, goodness gracious, etc., are frequently used only in their emotive meaning.
Suffixes having diminutive meanings may also be treated as adding emotive meaning to words with neutral logical meaning: cubicle (cube), particle (part), townlet (town).
Anything recognizable as having a strong impact on our senses may be considered as having emotive meaning, either dictionary or contextual.
The context helps to distinguish if the word is used in its emotive meaning or in its logical meaning.