For Roy Harris, the fundamental problem about linguistics is that it has been led astray by the fact that we are capable intellectually of ‘decontextualising’ our own verbal behaviour. A whole interlocking system of doctrines about forms, meanings and communication has arisen designed to support the idea that one particular kind of decontextualising analysis is a prerequisite for, rather than a retrospective reflection on, that behaviour. Against this, in 13 essays collected here for the first time, Harris argues for a fresh start, which recognises that we create language ‘as we go’, both as individuals and as communities, just as we create our social structures, forms of artistic expression, moral values, and everything else we call civilisation. If Harris’s thought can be put in a nutshell, it is that all utterances (whether written or spoken) have to appear in a context, and that context is an integral part of the utterance. There is no such thing as a contextless utterance.
Preface. Roy Harris: A Chronological Bibliography. Editor’s Introduction. 1. Synonym and Morphological Analysis 2. Words and Word Criteria in French 3. Semantics and Translation 4. Performative Paradigms 5. Semantics, Performatives and Truth 6. Truth-Conditional Semantics and Natural Languages 7. Making Sense of Communicative Competence 8. Communication and Language 9. The Speech-Communication Model in Twentieth-Century Linguistics and Its Sources 10. Must Monkeys Mean? 11. Scriptism 12. Language as Social Interaction: Integrationalism versus Segregationalism 13. The Semiology of Textualization