Suppose that there is a word that has more than one meaning. For example, “betray” means both " expose to danger by treacherously giving information to an enemy" and " unintentionally reveal." Do you think that one uses one meaning of the word while being conscious of the other meaning of the word?
If you were in front of a “stout,” middle-aged man, would you ever hesitate to say to him that he has put up a “stout” defence in court?
‘Betray’ has one more meaning: ‘to be disloyal’, i.e.: The knight betrayed his king.
But all meanings depends on the context. It means in a certain context the word has a certain meaning, for example:
They were betrayd by an informer.
Her voice betrayed her.
The native speaker doesn’t think about all meanings of the word listening to the phrase, but he undestands very well what you would like to say.
And it works for all languages, not only for English.
No… you just think of it in context
No… it wouldn’t occur to you to think of this second meaning. Evgueny’s right. Correction… you might if you were a close friend and knew that your “stout” friend was trying to lose weight and finding it difficult. And then you become incredibly conscious of weight related words and try to avoid them (I know as this has happened with one of my overweight friends) In normal circumstances, absolutely No.
Based on my observations, a native speaker always thinks of other meanings of the word, direct and indirect, or even the literary ones! =)))
As for the proof, no problem! =))
If not, there wouldn’t be any pun possible! The puns are based right on the concurrent meaning ambiguity! =)))
This is the reason why hai-ku are so hard or even impossible to translate into English or Russian; the original word ambiguity with the meaning implications is either very hard or completely impossible to render due to a total incongruence of the implied, indirect meanings or even connotations of the word between Japanese and English, or, likewise, Russian.
So, my answer to your question if a native speaker is conscious or not of the other meaning of the word is Yes! Always! Unless he has a really poor command of his native language, of course!
I certainly don’t think I do it in my every day use of my native language. If I’m feeling light hearted and relaxed, yes, plays on words are fun. And I used to speech write - and then you would weigh every word incredibly carefully to choose the right ones and to exploit the English language to its best advantage using all the possibilities that are on offer. But in every day speech, you just get on with it. I sail. When my boat turns through the wind, I am tacking. I certainly never think “tacking” also means nailing down carpet!
Hi ! =))
Just at the moment I saw this word ‘tacking’ my instant concept that occurred to me was, “Ah, provisionally fastening something, not as a permanent way to fix it, just for the components not to go loose!” =))
Actually, Pauler, the proof of the pudding is in the eating! You must know people who never “get” puns. It’s not that they’re stupid. It’s just that they don’t process what they don’t need! The straight version of the sentence makes sense, so they go no further. It’s a bit the same with crosswords. Some people take naturally to that particular form of linguistic gymnastics, but others don’t. In my experience, it’s nothing to do with intelligence. We all process in context, but some of us are more adept than others in looking for the ambiguities, the double meanings.
I think of “betray” as having both meanings above because they are connected in meaning, one is an extension of the others, part of the scope of meaning of the word, as is the case with “stout”. On the other hand “tack” or “train” are words that have unconnected meanings, at least unconnected in my mind. In any case I agree that it is the context that determines the meaning. Puns are understood by most native speakers, but it does require them to disconnect from the expected context.
Ah, well, I do agree with you, however, I wouldn’t even think of calling this an evidence of any stupidity, this being just an emotional assessment! People who do not “get” puns are not always “blunt” as they are most often would be called in Russian! =))) It’s rather, they lack some, er, … let me put it mildly, an experience of knowing another meaning of the word in their native language, which is, by the way, not a very rare case in Russian!
Besides, but it’s probably something quite specific to the way the local society here is devised, sometimes it’s more beneficial to fake not “getting” a pun, thus making it the most painless way to put out an intended bickering!
And that’s another meaning still. Which had not occurred to me when I wrote! But I am one of the ones with quite a literal mind, even though I have a wide vocabulary! Isn’t language fun!
Yeah, true that! =))))
This is exactly what I keep telling to everybody, language learning is anything but boring! Or, to be more specific, language learning is always fun, eventually! Both, any foreign language, and, strangely enough, even the native one! =))
I first came across this word ‘tack’ in a rather specialized term ‘tack weld’ when I was translating the British welding standards! The word seemed to be so onomatopoeic to me, implying ‘just a couple of tack-tack rather light strikes and the components are fastened to each other; not really tightly but just enough to avoid any potential misalignment’; that’s how I immediately memorized this word then!
Oh definitely one’s own! I started with Dutch with just the support of a bilingual Dutch pen friend - and writing back and forth taught me so much about English, even though I have used my own language “professionally” all my working life!! Now that I did not expect!!
Translating British welding standards - goodness, I’m impressed!!
Ah, yeah, I do know the feeling! =))))
I was pleasantly surprised by the Dutch language very long ago when I knew and saw that it’s actually a mix of Ancient English and modern German languages! =)))
The reason why I opted for technical translation is a sort of relative freedom of choice, it’s very nice when one knows the technical details much more professionally than an average university foreign languages department graduate, as they are predominantly based on the humanitarian type of the language, i.e. foreign literature, etc.
However, the peculiar feature of such an arrangement is I myself can chose to what extent I need to go into technicalities, i.e. if I want to have a reallly in-depth look into what’s going on technically, or do I restrict myself with just terminology mapping and consistency!