Crash Course in Linguistics for Text-Driven Preaching

 |  December 15, 2016


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)


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:


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

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