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How Words MeanLexical Concepts, Cognitive Models, and Meaning Construction$
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Vyvyan Evans

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199234660

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199234660.001.0001

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Words and meaning

Words and meaning

Chapter:
(p.3) 1 Words and meaning
Source:
How Words Mean
Author(s):

Vyvyan Evans (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199234660.003.0001

This chapter argues that the received view of meaning in linguistics, referred to as literalism, is flawed in a number of respects. The distinction it posits between sentence meaning and speaker meaning makes a principled distinction between context-independent meaning (semantics) and context-dependent meaning (pragmatics). The consequence of this for word meaning is that word meanings are assumed to be stable and relatively delimited ‘atoms of meaning’, which are context-independent. In contrast, it is argued that word meaning is inherently variable in language use. This is a function of both encyclopaedic knowledge and context of use.

Keywords:   literalism, context-independent meaning, context-dependent meaning, atoms of meaning, sentence meaning, speaker meaning, context of use

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