Understanding the Intricacies of Meaning–Text Theory

Explore the comprehensive guide to Meaning–Text Theory (MTT), a robust linguistic framework that offers systematic tools for understanding natural languages and has devoted applications in various fields.

The Genesis of Meaning–Text Theory (MTT)

The Meaning–Text Theory (MTT) is a theoretical linguistic framework that was initially introduced in Moscow by scholars Aleksandr Žolkovskij and Igor Mel’čuk. This comprehensive model serves as a systematic tool for constructing natural language models. It offers an extensive basis for linguistic description and has devoted applications in various fields, including machine translation, phraseology, and lexicography.

The Core Components of MTT

MTT operates on a straightforward principle: the mapping of semantics to phonetics. This mapping is achieved through intermediate levels of representation, which include semantic, syntactic, and morphological representations. Each of these levels is systematically connected through sets of rules called “components”.

  1. Semantic Representation in MTT

    • In MTT, semantic representation primarily consists of a web-like structure that combines various predications. These structures can be further decomposed into finer-grained representations using semantic paraphrasing processes. This level of representation is crucial for understanding the meaning behind the text.
  2. Syntactic Representation in MTT

    • The syntactic representation in MTT employs dependency trees to depict the syntactic structure of an utterance. There are two levels of syntax: the deep syntactic representation, which captures universal aspects of syntactic structure, and the surface syntactic representation, which represents language-specific structure.
  3. Morphological Representation in MTT

    • Morphological representation in MTT involves strings of morphemes arranged in a linear order. Similar to syntax, it also has two levels: deep and surface morphological representation. These levels help in understanding the structure and formation of words.

The Lexicon in MTT

One of the most significant elements of MTT is the lexicon, represented by an Explanatory Combinatorial Dictionary (ECD). This lexicon serves as a comprehensive catalog of lexical units in a language, including lexemes, collocations, constructions, and other configurations.

  1. Lexical Functions in MTT

    • Lexical functions in MTT represent abstract semantic relations between lexical units. These functions are standardized and recur across multiple languages, making them a universal feature of the theory.

Implications and Applications

MTT is not just a theoretical model; it has practical applications as well. It lends itself well to computer applications, including machine translation and natural language processing. Its structured approach makes it an ideal framework for linguistic research and technological solutions.


The Meaning–Text Theory is a robust framework that offers a systematic approach for understanding natural languages. From its semantic, syntactic, and morphological levels to its comprehensive lexicon and lexical functions, MTT provides a complete toolkit for both theoretical exploration and practical application. Its universal principles and devoted rules make it an indispensable tool in the field of linguistics.

Topic Keywords: Meaning–Text Theory, MTT, Semantic Representation, Syntactic Representation, Morphological Representation, Lexicon, Lexical Functions, Linguistic Framework, Machine Translation, Natural Language Processing

Meaning–Text Theory

Follow Me
Latest posts by Johnny Holiday (see all)