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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

(p.3) 1 Words and meaning
How Words Mean

Vyvyan Evans (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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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