English: Meaning and Culture / Edition 1

English: Meaning and Culture / Edition 1

by Anna Wierzbicka
     
 

ISBN-10: 0195174755

ISBN-13: 9780195174755

Pub. Date: 04/27/2006

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

As The First truly global language and lingua franca, English is often seen simply- and simplistically-as a neutral, universal vehicle for the expression of thoughts and ideas. In fact, the words, phrases, and grammar of English are heavily loaded with cultural baggage. This engrossing book by one of the world's leading linguists identifies some of the innumerable

Overview

As The First truly global language and lingua franca, English is often seen simply- and simplistically-as a neutral, universal vehicle for the expression of thoughts and ideas. In fact, the words, phrases, and grammar of English are heavily loaded with cultural baggage. This engrossing book by one of the world's leading linguists identifies some of the innumerable connections between the English language and "Anglo" culture.

Using the methods of linguistic semantics, Wierzbicka investigates the "universe of meaning" encompassed within the vocabulary and grammar of the English language and places it in historical and geographical perspective. For example, she looks at the historical ascent of the words "right" and "wrong" to their present status of cultural key words. She dissects the ideas of "fairness" and "reasonableness" and shows that, far from being cultural universals, they are unique creations of modern Anglo culture. This fascinating work of scholarship, which seeks to reveal English's cultural underpinnings and their implications for the modern world, will appeal not only to linguists and others concerned with language and culture, but to everyone interested in English and English as a second language.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195174755
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/27/2006
Edition description:
ANN
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Part IMeaning, History and Culture
1English as a Cultural Universe3
1.1English-the most widely used language in the world3
1.2English and Englishes5
1.3An illustration: Words, scripts, and human lives7
1.4"Anglo English" as a historical formation9
1.5The tendency to mistake "Anglo English" for the human norm11
1.6The cultural underpinnings of (Anglo) English13
1.7A framework for studying and describing meaning16
2Anglo Cultural Scripts Seen through Middle Eastern Eyes20
2.1Linguistics and intercultural cCommunication20
2.2The theory of cultural scripts22
2.3The Anglo ideal of "accuracy" and the practice of "understatement"25
2.4"To the best of my knowledge..."35
2.5Anglo respect for "facts"41
2.6"Cool reason": to think vs. to feel46
2.7To compel or not to compel? The value of autonomy50
2.8Conclusion56
Part IIEnglish Words: From Philosophy to Everyday Discourse
3The Story of Right and Wrong and Its Cultural Implications61
3.1Introduction61
3.2"Right" and "wrong": A basis for ethics?64
3.3The link between "right" and "reason"70
3.4"That's right"74
3.5An illustration: English vs. Italian76
3.6"Right" as a neutral ground between "good" and "true"78
3.7Procedural morality80
3.8"Right" and "wrong": Increasingly asymmetrical82
3.9The changing frequencies of true, truth, right, and wrong85
3.10"Right" as a response in dialogue87
3.11"Right" and cultural scripts92
3.12Retrospect and conclusion: The Puritans, the Enlightenment, the growth of democracy95
4Being Reasonable: A Key Anglo Value and Its Cultural Roots103
4.1Introduction103
4.2The pre-Enlightenment uses of "reasonable"104
4.3The main themes in the modern meanings of the word reasonable105
4.4"A reasonable man"107
4.5"It is reasonable to" think (say, do) ...112
4.6"Reasonable doubt"117
4.7"Reasonable force" and "reasonable care"123
4.8"A reasonable time," "A reasonable amount"125
4.9"Reasonable" as "reasonably good"127
4.10"Reasonable" and "unreasonable"128
4.11An internal reconstruction of the semantic history of "reasonable"133
4.12"Reasonable" and Anglo cultural scripts135
4.13Is the Anglo value of "reasonable" unique? English vs. French138
5Being Fair: Another Key Anglo Value and Its Cultural Underpinnings141
5.1The importance of "fairness" in modern Anglo culture141
5.2The meaning of fair and not fair144
5.3"Fairness" and Anglo political philosophy152
5.4"Fairness" vs. "justice"155
5.5The illusion of universality160
5.6"Fairness" and "fair play": A historical perspective163
5.7"Fairness" and "procedural morality"165
Part IIIAnglo Culture Reflected in English Grammar
6The English Causatives: Causation and Interpersonal Relations171
6.1The cultural elaboration of causation171
6.2The English "let"-constructions and the cultural ideal of "noninterference"183
7I Think: The Rise of Epistemic Phrases in Modern English204
7.1Introduction204
7.2I think208
7.3I suppose208
7.4I guess209
7.5I gather210
7.6I presume212
7.7I believe213
7.8I find220
7.9I expect226
7.10I take It230
7.11I understand233
7.12I imagine235
7.13I bet236
7.14I suspect237
7.15I assume239
7.16Conclusion241
8Probably: English Epistemic Adverbs and Their Cultural Significance247
8.1Introduction247
8.2Developing a format for the semantic analysis of epistemic adverbs257
8.3"Probably" and "likely": The heart of the category of epistemic adverbs261
8.4"Confident" adverbs: Evidently, clearly, obviously270
8.5"Nonconfident" adverbs: Possibly and conceivably276
8.6Hearsay adverbs: Apparently, supposedly, allegedly, and reportedly278
8.7The "uncertain" status of certainly284
8.8Epistemic adverbs vs. discourse particles287
8.9The history of epistemic adverbs in modern english291
Part IVConclusion
9The "Cultural Baggage" of English and Its Significance in the World at Large299
9.1The legacy of history299
9.2Living with concepts300
9.3Two illustrations: International law and international aviation301
9.4Communication and "vibes"305
9.5Intercultural communication and cross-cultural education308
9.6English in the world today310
Notes315
References325
Index341

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