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Theories of Lexical Semantics$
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Dirk Geeraerts

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780198700302

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198700302.001.0001

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Generativist Semantics

Generativist Semantics

(p.101) 3 Generativist Semantics
Theories of Lexical Semantics

Dirk Geeraerts (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The third chapter describes generativist semantics. From 1960 onwards, aspects of structuralist semantics (componential analysis in particular) were incorporated into generative grammar. Within the history of lexical semantics, this period occupies a pivotal position. It introduces an attempt to formalize semantics as part of a formal grammar. At the same time, the mentalist orientation of generative grammar creates an interest in psychological adequacy. This double extension of componential analysis raises questions about formal and psychological adequacy that motivate the strands of research that emerged after the generativist period. Cognitive semantics focuses on the psychological side. It embodies a maximalist approach that intends to study linguistic meaning as part and parcel of cognition at large. By contrast, a number of other approaches stay closer to the structuralist inspiration, exploring forms of meaning description that are in various ways more restricted (and possibly more formalisable) than what is pursued in cognitive semantics.

Keywords:   Generative Semantics, Interpretive Semantics, generative grammar, formal semantics, Jerrold J. Katz, James D. McCawley

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