The Study of Semantic Change and its Effect on Linguistic and Literary Comprehension of ESL Learners

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Azka Khalid

Abstract

Language is continuously changing. Words change their meaning over time and this process is known as semantic change. Change can occur both in the literal meaning and in the pragmatic use of words. In this research, semantic change is studied from a different perspective. Words that go through rapid semantic changes are the focus of this study. Users of English as a second language are also the focus of this study. The study observes whether these users are able to keep up with semantic change. It also gives us an idea regarding how much the users know about the multiple meanings of the same words. Another aspect of this study is to find out whether semantic change affects the comprehension of literature containing the words which went through semantic change. This research was conducted through a close-ended questionnaire designed by selecting fifteen words which changed their meaning over time. The respondents were fifty in number and were all females who had different educational backgrounds. The results were analyzed through pie charts. The results showed that the majority of ESL learners are able to keep up with semantic change, although a significant proportion is still struggling to understand the process. The results also showed that the learners of English as a second language have little knowledge of the previous meanings of words. If a word which has changed its meaning over time occurs in any literary work, ESL learners are not able to comprehend its meaning as it is intended to be understood. This can be considered as a negative attribute of semantic change. So, it was concluded that ESL learners are able to keep up with the change but most of them are unable to comprehend literature as it is intended to be understood.

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How to Cite
Khalid , A. (2020). The Study of Semantic Change and its Effect on Linguistic and Literary Comprehension of ESL Learners . Journal of Communication and Cultural Trends, 1(2), 43-54. https://doi.org/10.32350/jcct.12.04

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