The meaning of a word is far from the same as the reference to the subject contained in it, with its function of name, with its subject reference (gegenstandliche Beziehung).
To the extent that a word contains an indication of an object, it is necessary to understand the language to know the objects denoted by words, it is necessary to know the entire range of relevant material culture. The same names in different epochs denote different objects and different concepts. On the other hand, each social environment is characterized by the peculiarities of its designations. The same subjects are interpreted differently by people of different education, different worldviews, and different professional skills. Therefore, the same Russian word as an indication of an object includes different content in the speech of different social or cultural groups.
The need to consider the history of words with the history of the things they denote is generally recognized.
As a name, as an indication of an object, a word is a cultural and historical thing. “Where there is a commonality of culture and technology, the word points to the same subject; where it is violated, the meaning of the word is divided.”
The functional and social connections of items are reflected in the historical history of their names.
” The name indicates that the public mind has already tried to assign this subject a certain place in the unity of a more general whole, ” Lotze said.
However, it is easy to see that not all types of words perform a nominative or definitive function. All service words that have purely grammatical meanings and relationships predominate in their semantic structure are devoid of it. The nominative function is also alien to interjections and so-called “introductory ” words. In addition, pronominal words, although they may be names, are most often equivalent to names. Thus, even when analyzing the real relations of a word, the differences between different structural and semantic types of words sharply appear.
The transition from the nominative function of a word sign to the semantic forms of the word itself is usually associated with the communicative function of speech.
In the process of speech communication, the real relation and meaning of a word may differ. This discrepancy is especially noticeable when the word does not name an object or phenomenon, but figuratively characterizes it (for example: living relics, a cap – in relation to a person; a woman – in relation to a man, a hat – in a figurative sense, etc.).
In this regard, the word acts as a system of forms and meanings that correlates with other semantic units of the language.
A word considered in the context of a language, i.e. taken in the totality of its forms and meanings, is often called a lexeme.
Regardless of its given use, the word is present in the mind with all its meanings, hidden and possible, ready to surface at the first opportunity. But, of course, one or another meaning of a word is realized and determined by the context of its use. In fact, as many separate contexts of use of a given word, so many of its meanings, so many of its lexical forms; however, the word does not cease to be a single one, it usually does not break up into separate homonymous words. The semantic boundary of a word is a homonym. A word as a single system of internally related meanings is understood only in the context of the entire system of a given language. The internal unity of a word is ensured not only by the unity of its phonetic and grammatical composition, but also by the semantic unity of its meaning system, which, in turn, is determined by the general laws of the semantic system of the language as a whole.
Language is enriched along with the development of ideas, and the same outer shell of the word is overgrown with shoots of new meanings and meanings. When one member of the chain is affected, the whole responds and sounds. The resulting concept is consonant with everything that is connected with the individual members of the chain to the extreme limits of this connection.
Ways of combining and separating meanings in the word structure are determined by the semantic system of the language as a whole and its individual styles. The study of changes in the principles of combining word meanings into “bundles” cannot lead to broad generalizations, to the discovery of semantic laws – without connection with the general problem of the history of social worldviews, with the problem of language and thinking. With a different point of view, “the very meaning of the word would continue to remain obscure and incomprehensible without the perception of it in the general complex of the entire worldview of the studied era.”