First published in 1983, the aim of this book is to diagnose linguists’ failure to advance satisfactory theories of lexical meaning, then to propose the requirements that such a theory should meet and, drawing on work in philosophy and psychology, to take the first steps towards satisfying these requirements. It begins by discussing the work of Quine on the indeterminacy of translation and it is shown that attempts by linguists to answer Quine’s arguments by proposing universal ‘semantic primitives’ or their equivalents is unsatisfactory. The relation between the theory of word meaning and the theory of categorisation is explored, and an alternative to Rosch’s ‘family resemblance’ account of the ‘prototype’ effect in both nouns and verbs is provided. The author argues that identification of certain implicit categories like ‘action’ and ‘event’ can be related to principles of individuation, and builds on the work of Kripke and Putnam on proper names and natural kind terms. This book will be of interest to students of linguistics and the philosophy of language.
Preface; 1. The Possibility of a Theory of Word Meaning 2. Against Semantic Primitives 3. Naïve Metaphysics 4. Theories of Categorisation 5. Verbs, Prototypes and Family Resemblances 6. Semantic Categories; Bibliography; Index
Semantics and semiology are two of the most important branches of linguistics and have proven to be fecund areas for research. They examine language structures and how they are dictated by both the meanings and forms of communication employed — semantics by focusing on the denotation of words and fixed word combinations, and semiology by studying sign and sign processes. As numerous interrelated fields connect to and sub-disciplines branch off from these major spheres, they are essential to a thorough grounding in linguistics and crucial for further study.
‘Routledge Library Editions: Semantics and Semiology’ collects together wide-ranging works of scholarship that together provide a comprehensive overview of the preceding theoretical landscape, and expand and extend it in numerous directions. A number of interrelated disciplines are also discussed in conjunction with semantics and semiology such as anaphora, pragmatics, syntax, discourse analysis and the philosophy of language. This set reissues 14 books originally published between 1960 to 2000 and will be of interest to students of linguistics and the philosophy of language.