Meaning: A Slim Guide to Semantics

Meaning: A Slim Guide to Semantics


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Our outstanding ability to communicate is a distinguishing features of our species. To communicate is to convey meaning, but what is meaning? How do words combine to give us the meanings of sentences? And what makes a statement ambiguous or nonsensical? These questions and many others are addressed in Paul Elbourne's fascinating guide. He opens by asking what kinds of things the meanings of words and sentences could be: are they, for example, abstract objects or psychological entities? He then looks at how we understand a sequence of words we have never heard before; he considers to what extent the meaning of a sentence can be derived from the words it contains and how to account for the meanings that can't be; and he examines the roles played by time, place, and the shared and unshared assumptions of speakers and hearers. He looks at how language interacts with thought and the intriguing question of whether what language we speak affects the way we see the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199585830
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 12/01/2011
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Paul Elbourne is Reader in Semantics at Queen Mary, University of London. He is the author of Situations and Individuals (MIT Press, 2005) and numerous articles in linguistics and philosophy journals.

Table of Contents

1. Definitions
2. What are Word Meanings?
3. Semantic Properties of Words
4. What are Sentence Meanings?
5. Semantic Properties of Sentences
6. Meaning and Grammar
7. Meaning and Context
8. Meaning and Thought
9. Conclusion
Sources and Further Reading

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