Semantic Analysis: A Practical Introduction / Edition 2

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Semantic Analysis is a lively and clearly written introduction to the study of meaning in language, and to the language-culture connection. Goddard covers traditional and contemporary issues and approaches with the relationship between semantics, conceptualization, and culture as a key theme. He also details a number of case studies that draw on a wide range of material from non-Indo-European languages, particularly Australian Aboriginal languages and Malay, on which the author is an authority.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199560288
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/25/2011
  • Series: Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,175,421
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Cliff Goddard joined the Department of Linguistics at The University of New England in 1990. He has collaborated closely with Anna Wierzbicka in the development of the "natural semantic metalanguage" approach to semantics.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Figure Credits
Typographical Conventions and Symbols
1 Semantics: The Study of Meaning 1
2 Three Traditions: Lexicography, Logic, and Structuralism 26
3 Contemporary Approaches, Contemporary Issues 56
4 The Semantics of Emotions 86
5 Colours 111
6 Speech-Act Verbs 136
7 Discourse Particles and Interjections 165
8 Motion 195
9 Artefacts and Animals 224
10 Causatives 260
11 Grammatical Categories 294
12 New Developments 324
Solutions to Selected Exercises 356
References 379
Language Index 401
General Index 403
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2000

    Review of Goddard, _Semantic Analysis_

    The Natural Semantic Metalanguage of Anna Wierzbicka and her colleagues is a conceptual theory, utilizing, like many others, the notion of a relatively small number of semantic primitives. Unlike other theories, however, the NSM approach intends the primitives to be empirically discovered rather than merely programmatic; and intends them to be concrete expressions of real language rather than abstractions. They are simply universal terms having a degree of simplicity such that they cannot themselves be defined without the introduction of obscurity. There are about 55 such terms so far established and tested, including, for example, I, YOU, SOMEONE,ONE, TWO,THINK, KNOW,SAY, WORD, DO, HAPPEN, etc. The claim is that some terms are more basic, clear and understandable than others, not merely for some individuals, but absolutely for all individuals. It is based on Chapter 4 of Book VI of Aristotle's _Topics_. The idea is that (conceptual) semantics is a matter of giving definitions, and a definition ought to be simpler than what is being defined. But the validity of the claim depends upon our acceptance of the notion 'semantic complexity' - the claim that some terms are semantically more complex than other, simpler, terms. We cannot do semantic analysis without a set of primitives, for all definitions would be inherently circular. If there are semantic primitives, then there are at least some simple or basic terms which themselves do not need definition and cannot be further defined. 'To understand anything we must reduce the unknown to the known, the obscure to the clear, the abstruse to the self-explanatory.' Wierzbicka, _Semantics: Primes and Universals_, p. 11. The explication of complex concepts in terms of simpler ones is what we do when we explain anything. Without this notion there is no explanation. Leibniz wrote regarding this issue that 'If nothing could be comprehended in itself nothing at all could ever be comprehended. Because what can only be comprehended via something else can be comprehended only to the extent to which that other thing can be comprehended, and so on; accordingly, we can say that we have understood something only when we have broken it down into parts which can be understood in themselves.' The present version of the NSM theory as presented by Goddard is strong and insightful in some areas, weaker and more dubious in others. The chief difficulty I see with it is a familiar one, conceded in effect by the author himself: simplicity is often a trade-off between different sorts of economy. The NSM theory does indeed get along with a relatively small number of primes; however the reductive paraphrases themselves (i.e., the definitions) become quite lengthy and complex, even allowing for the use of 'semantic molecules' (terms not themselves primes but already defined in terms of primes, and which recur in many reductive paraphrases), especially for natural kinds. Two of the valuable insights of this approach are (a) that it allows for the description of referential indeterminacy in discrete terms and (b) it develops a notion Goddard calls 'functional logic' which relates the visible attributes of an artifact to its use, rather nicely dealing with Labov's famous example of _cup_ vs. _mug_ and the like. Ken Miner

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