Meaning and Universal Grammar: Theory and Empirical Findings

Meaning and Universal Grammar: Theory and Empirical Findings

by Cliff Goddard
     
 

This book develops a bold new approach to universal grammar, based on research findings of the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) program. The key idea is that universal grammar is constituted by the inherent grammatical properties of some 60 empirically established semantic primes, which appear to have concrete exponents in all languages. For six typologically…  See more details below

Overview

This book develops a bold new approach to universal grammar, based on research findings of the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) program. The key idea is that universal grammar is constituted by the inherent grammatical properties of some 60 empirically established semantic primes, which appear to have concrete exponents in all languages. For six typologically divergent languages (Mangaaba-Mbula, Mandarin Chinese, Lao, Malay, Spanish and Polish), contributors identify exponents of the primes and work through a substantial set of hypotheses about their combinatorics, valency properties, complementation options, etc. Each study can also be read as a semantically-based typological profile. Four theoretical chapters by the editors describe the NSM approach and its application to grammatical typology. As a study of empirical universals in grammar, this book is unique for its rigorous semantic orientation, its methodological consistency, and its wealth of cross-linguistic detail.

Table of Contents Volume 1:

The Search for the Shared Semantic Core of All Languages
Semantic Primes and Universal Grammar
Semantic Primes and Universal Grammar in Malay
The Natural Semantic Metalanguage of Spanish
The Universal Syntax of Semantic Primes in Mandarin ChineseTable of Contents Volume 2:

Part 1: Individual Language Studies
The Syntax of Semantic Primes in Mangaaba-Mbula
Semantic Primes and Universal Grammar in Polish
Combinatorial Properties of Natural Semantic Metalanguage Expressions in Lao

Part 2: General
Semantic Primes and Linguistic Typology
The On-going Development of the NSM Research Program

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Ronald W. LangackerUniversity of California
Irrespective of theoretical orientation, one can only be impressed by the scope of the empirical investigation as well as the depth and insight of the resulting semantic descriptions. The theoretical tenets of Anna Wierzbicka's Natural Semantic Metalanguage approach are provocative and highly controversial. They focus attention on fundamental issues and force us to rethink the nature of linguistic meaning and psychologically plausible semantic descriptions. Linguists of all persuasions can profit from examining the analyses presented in this work, the theoretical proposals made, and their possible ramifications.
William A. Foley
This is a very important work and represents a major advance in the understanding of the dependence of syntactic description on an explicit semantic analysis. This work is especially valuable because the role of semantics, particularly the lexical semantics of verbs, has become increasingly central in current formal theories of syntax, and few semantic theories are as well worked out as that presented here. Syntactic theorists would be well advised to study this book carefully before they glibly invoke vague ( and potentially circular) semantic explanations for syntactic problems.
Alexandr Kibrik
The entire book is written in a maximally clear and simple language. It invites the reader, in a friendly manner, into the creative laboratory, where there is being accomplished a wondrous process of reaching the complex through the simple. At the same time, it is a simplicity deeply thought through; behind it lies a professionalism of the highest order and many years of systematic thinking about the nature of human language.
Ronald W. Langacker
Irrespective of theoretical orientation, one can only be impressed by the scope of the empirical investigation as well as the depth and insight of the resulting semantic descriptions. The theoretical tenets of Anna Wierzbicka's Natural Semantic Metalanguage approach are provocative and highly controversial. They focus attention on fundamental issues and force us to rethink the nature of linguistic meaning and psychologically plausible semantic descriptions. Linguists of all persuasions can profit from examining the analyses presented in this work, the theoretical proposals made, and their possible ramifications.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781588113221
Publisher:
Benjamins, John Publishing Company
Publication date:
01/28/2003
Series:
Studies in Language Companion Series
Pages:
706

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >