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Being, Humanity, and Understanding$
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G. E. R. Lloyd

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199654727

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654727.001.0001

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Language and audiences

Language and audiences

(p.72) 4 Language and audiences
Being, Humanity, and Understanding

G. E. R. Lloyd

Oxford University Press

This chapter draws on the evidence from history and ethnography to examine the influences that different modes of language use, different contexts of communicative exchange and different audiences may have on the content of what is communicated and on its interpretation. It challenges the usefulness of two favourite dichotomies, namely those between the metaphorical and the literal, and between myths and rational accounts, which have often been brought to bear on the puzzles of counter-intuitive or seemingly irrational beliefs. In preference to the former dichotomy a tentative proposal is made in favour of an analysis in terms of ‘semantic stretch’, a feature of all language use which is a matter of degree rather than of kind. It is argued that this is more appropriate not just to poetry but also to philosophy and science and in particular to the understanding of divergent ontologies.

Keywords:   communicative exchanges, audiences, literal/metaphorical, myth, semantic stretch

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