Representation of a conceptual system in the theory of meaning by R.I. Pavilionis

Research article
Issue: № 5 (53), 2024


The article examines the conceptual system as one of the basic concepts of cognitive linguistics. The purpose of the study is to reveal the specifics of the representation of the conceptual system in R.I. Pavilionis’s theory of meaning. To achieve this goal, the task was set to consider the cognitive basis for studying the problems of meaning as an integral part of the more general problem of knowing the world and building its conceptual framework. The scientific novelty of the research is manifested in the analysis of the conceptual system in the scientist’s theory of meaning, identifying the stages of its formation and connection with linguistic expressions, their interpretation in a certain conceptual system. As a result of the study, the stages of formation of the conceptual system in R.I.’s theory of meaning were also identified. Pavilionis, the connection between linguistic expressions and concepts that are included in this conceptual system, is described. The practical significance lies in the possibility of using the results of this work in classes on lexicology of the English language and in special courses on linguoconceptology.

1. Introduction

Cognitive linguistics studies the problems of the relationship between language and consciousness, the role of language in the conceptualization and categorization of the world, in cognitive processes and generalization of human experience and the connection of individual human cognitive abilities with language and the forms of their interaction.

The concept of a conceptual system is one of the basic ones in cognitive linguistics. A conceptual system is "that mental level or that mental (psychic) organization where the totality of all concepts given to the human mind, their ordered unification, is concentrated"


The idea that there is a certain level in the head where information received from the outside is collected and at which the results of visual, auditory, tactile, etc. perception are processed together with the linguistic development of this experience belongs to R. Jackendoff. Since then, a number of both native and foreign linguists have been developing this idea.

In the native version of cognitive linguistics, the concept of a conceptual system was first most fully presented in the works of R.I. Pavilenis


R.I. Pavilionis considered the problem of meaning as an integral part of the more general problem of understanding the world and constructing its conceptual picture. His conception attempts to build a theoretical model for understanding the world. So, in the conceptual system of R.I. Pavilionis meaning is an integral part of this system. The conceptual system of a native speaker, in his opinion, is a system of his opinions and knowledge about the world, reflecting cognitive experience at the prelinguistic and linguistic stages and levels

. It should be noted that the conceptual system in the conception of R.I. Pavilenis has a certain internal structure and includes the following types of conceptual structures: conceptual structures that arise at the preverbal stage, the so-called “primary” concepts and conceptual structures built through language

2. Research methods and principles

In the theory of meaning by R.I. Pavilionis, the formation of a conceptual system takes place in several stages. The scientist considers the non-verbal method of forming a conceptual structure as the first stage. At this stage, a person becomes acquainted with objects accessible to his direct perception. Through the channel of sensory perception, an individual receives certain information, which forms his system of ideas about the world. The construction of such system before language acquisition is a nonverbal stage in the formation of a conceptual system. At the same stage, the formation of some “primary” concepts that arise in the process of becoming familiar with the surrounding world is also carried out. Adhering to this point of view, E.S. Kubryakova and V.Z. Demyankov note that “primary” concepts reflect the perceptual experience of the individual and specifically indicate that in the process of language formation, these concepts are the first to be verbalized

. Since “an individual’s conceptual system is formed by assimilating any new information about the world on the basis of which he already has, then “primary” concepts are the necessary condition for building a conceptual system. They serve as analyzers and interpreters when learning new concepts”

The next stage in the formation of a conceptual system is the construction of conceptual structures through language. Such structures relate more to the possible than to the actual experience of the individual, since they represent information that cannot be introduced into a conceptual system without language, to be constructed in it. Concepts constructed using language are associated with preverbal concepts that reflect the individual’s actual cognitive experience. However, the author points out that although the role of language is very significant in the construction of conceptual systems, language itself is not a conceptual system, but only one of its parts and serves for the further structure and symbolic representation of the content of certain conceptual systems. These systems embody both trivial, including preverbal, and scientific ideas of native speakers about the world


3. Main results

Linguistic expressions correlate with certain concepts that are inextricably linked with a certain conceptual system, with its concepts. Therefore, understanding a linguistic expression is its interpretation in a certain conceptual system. A linguistic expression can receive more than one interpretation in a conceptual system. It can be interpreted by different conceptual structures, related to each other in different ways, but contained in the same conceptual system


Let us illustrate this point with a simple example of the verb to have. To have money – means to have a certain amount of money; to have something in – contain something inside; to have a shock – to experience emotional shock; to have a party – organize a party; to have something to do – to be obliged to do something


Whereas this verb is polysemantic, it was decided to take only a few of its meanings, but from these examples it is clear that the language has sufficient means of interpreting the same lexical unit in many different ways.

The main context for the interpretation of any linguistic and non-linguistic text is the conceptual system, because it is presented in any act of interpretation. As an example, let's take two sentences in which speakers present and interpret the same situation differently: They will come next week / They are coming next week. If in the first case somebody's arrival is considered possible, but not necessarily feasible, then in the second case the situation seems real, because there is a prior agreement about arrival and the speaker has the necessary information about the fact of arrival.

4. Conclusion

A person’s conceptual system determines not only what and how he can interpret, but also his individual vision of the world. A person identifies in his conceptual system those conceptual structures that represent his opinion about the world. Many such structures, connected with each other and with the entire conceptual system, form the basis of a person’s orientational relationship to the world. And the person himself is considered by the author of this conception not just as a passive referent of linguistic expressions, but as their active interpreter, but not just a native speaker of the language, but first of all, the bearer of a certain conceptual system, on the basis of which he understands language, experiences the world and communicates with others native speakers. Therefore, at least the part of his conceptual structures that form his system of opinions is true concerning the real world.

The problem of the connection between language and the human conceptual system, their interaction, posed by R.I. Pavilenis, found its development in the works of modern scientists, in particular, E. S. Kubryakova, N.N. Boldyreva, V.Z. Demyankova, L.V. Babina, N.A. Besedina and others. Further studies of language showed that language and the conceptual system, linguistic units and concepts, do not simply interact with each other, but are connected by a representation relationship. Questions about the representation of the world in people's conceptual systems are still relevant nowadays and provide a wide field for research in cognitive linguistics.

And due to the fact that representations are involved in many other mental processes – perception, imagination, etc., their analysis can be continued, which provides a wide field for further research. Thus, the logical-philosophical conception of R.I. Pavilenis served as a methodological basis for studying various aspects of language, its modeling, identifying the place and functions of language in the process of cognition in the world.

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