Meaning (linguistics)

In linguistics, meaning is the information or concepts that a sender intends to convey, or does convey, in communication with a receiver.[1][2]

The sources of ambiguity

Ambiguity means confusion about what is conveyed, since the current context may lead to different interpretations of meaning. Many words in many languages have multiple definitions. Ambiguity is an effect of a rupture of the rule of identity in the context of the exchange of information. Particularly the sender may be physically absent, and the contexts explicitly divergent, such as will be the case when the receptor is a reader and the sender was a writer.

Pragmatics

Pragmatics is the study of how context affects meaning. The two primary forms of context important to pragmatics are linguistic context and situation context.

Linguistic context is how meaning is understood without relying on intent and assumptions. In applied pragmatics, for example, meaning is formed through sensory experiences, even though sensory stimulus cannot be easily articulated in language or signs. Pragmatics, then, reveals that meaning is both something affected by and affecting the world. Meaning is something contextual with respect to language and the world, and is also something active toward other meanings and the world. Linguistic context becomes important when looking at particular linguistic problems such as that of pronouns.

Situation context refers to every non-linguistic factor that affects the meaning of a phrase. An example of situation context can be seen in the phrase "it's cold in here", which can either be a simple statement of fact or a request to turn up the heat, depending on, among other things, whether or not it is believed to be in the listener's power to affect the temperature.

Semantic meaning

The relationship between words and their referents is called semantic.[3] Semantics is the study of how meaning is conveyed through signs and language. Understanding how facial expressions, body language, and tone affect meaning, and how words, phrases, sentences, and punctuation relate to meaning are examples. Various subgroups of semantics are studied within the fields of linguistics, logic and computing. For example, linguistic semantics includes the history of how words have been used in the past; logical semantics includes how people mean and refer in terms of likely intent and assumptions.

During the 19th century, John Stuart Mill defined semantic meaning with the words "denotation" and "connotation".[4] A denotation is the literal or primary meaning of a word. Connotations are ideas or feelings that a word invokes for a person in addition to its literal or primary meaning.

The original use of "meaning" as understood early in the 20th century occurred through Lady Welby, after her daughter translated the term "semantics" from French.

Conceptual meaning

Languages allow information to be conveyed even when the specific words used are not known by the reader or listener. People connect words with meaning and use words to refer to concepts. A person's intentions affect what is meant. Meaning (in English) as intent harkens back to the Anglo-Saxons and is associated today still, with the German verb meinen as to think or intend.

Semiotics

Ferdinand de Saussure, in founding semiology, his original subset of the semiotics, started describing language in terms of Signs, dividing those signs in turn into signifieds and signifiers. The signifier is the perceptive side of a sign, thus the sound form in case of oral language. The signified is the signification (semantic) side, the mental construction or image associated with the sound, by either a speaker and hearer. A sign, then, is essentially a relationship between signified and signifier.

Signs are essentially conventional, as any foreign language student is well aware: there is no reason that bat couldn't mean "body of water" or even "that bust of Napoleon over there". Since the choice of signifiers is ultimately arbitrary, the meaning cannot somehow be in the signifier. Saussure instead defers meaning to the sign itself: meaning is ultimately the same thing as the sign, and meaning means that relationship is between signified and signifier. All meaning is both within us and communal, thus cultural. Signs "mean" by reference to our internal lexicon and grammar, and despite there being a matter of convention, so the communal part, signs also, because of the individual's uniqueness, can mean something only to the individual (what red means to one person may not be what red means to another, either in absolute value, or by including what's suggested by the context). However, while meanings carried by one given set of signifiers may vary to some extent from individual to individual, only those meanings that stay within a boundary are seen by other speakers of the language to belong to the language: if one were to refer to smells as red, most other speakers would assume the person is talking nonsense (although statements like this are common among people who experience synesthesia, or in poetry).

See also

Fields
Perspectives
Theories
Considerations
Important theorists

References

  1. ^ "meaning". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  2. ^ Nick Sanchez. "Communication Process". New Jersey Institute of Technology. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  3. ^ https://tr.scribd.com/document/137895627/%D0%92-%D0%9D-%D0%9A%D0%BE%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%81%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2-%D0%9A%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B0
  4. ^ Fred Wilson (Jan 3, 2002). "John Stuart Mill". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford. Retrieved October 8, 2010.

Further reading

  • Akmajian, Adrian, Richard Demers, Ann Farmer, and Robert Harnish. Linguistics: an introduction to language and communication, 4th edition. 1995. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Allan, Keith. Linguistic Meaning, Volume One. 1986. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Austin, J. L. How to Do Things With Words. 1962. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Bacon, Sir Francis, Novum Organum, 1620.
  • Berger, Peter and Thomas Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality : A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. 1967. First Anchor Books Edition. 240 pages.
  • Blackmore, John T., "Section 2, Communication", Foundation theory, 2000. Sentinel Open Press.
  • Blackmore, John T., "Prolegomena", Ernst Mach's Philosophy - Pro and Con, 2009. Sentinel Open Press.
  • Blackmore, John T. Semantic Dialogues or Ethics versus Rhetoric, 2010, Sentinel Open Press
  • Chase, Stuart, The Tyranny of Words, New York, 1938. Harcourt, Brace and Company
  • Davidson, Donald. Inquiries into Truth and Meaning, 2nd edition. 2001. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Dummett, Michael. Frege: Philosophy of Language, 2nd Edition. 1981. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Frege, Gottlob. The Frege Reader. Edited by Michael Beaney. 1997. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing
  • Gauker, Christopher. Words without Meaning. 2003. MIT Press
  • Goffman, Erving. Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. 1959. Anchor Books.
  • Grice, Paul. Studies in the Way of Words. 1989. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Hayakawa, S.I. The Use and Misuse of Language, 11th edition, 1962 [1942]. Harper and Brothers.
  • James, William. William James on Habit, Will, Truth, and the Meaning of Life. Edited by James Sloan Allen. 2014. Savannah: Frederic C. Beil, Publisher.
  • Ogden, C.K. and I.A. Richards, The Meaning of Meaning, New York, 1923. Harcourt Brace & World.
  • Schiller, F.C.S., Logic for Use, London, 1929. G. Bell.
  • Searle, John and Daniel Vanderveken. Foundations of Illocutionary Logic. 1985. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Searle, John. Speech Acts. 1969. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Searle, John. Expression and Meaning. 1979. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Stonier, Tom: Information and Meaning. An Evolutionary Perspective. 1997. XIII, 255 p. 23,5 cm.

External links

Degree of truth

In standard mathematics, propositions can typically be considered unambiguously true or false. For instance, the proposition zero belongs to the set { 1 } is regarded as simply false; while the proposition one belongs to the set { 1 } is regarded as simply true. However, some mathematicians, computer scientists, and philosophers have been attracted to the idea that a proposition might be more or less true, rather than wholly true or wholly false. Consider My coffee is hot.

In mathematics, this idea can be developed in terms of fuzzy logic. In computer science, it has found application in artificial intelligence. In philosophy, the idea has proved particularly appealing in the case of vagueness. Degrees of truth is an important concept in law.

Indeterminacy of translation

The indeterminacy of translation is a thesis propounded by 20th-century American analytic philosopher W. V. Quine. The classic statement of this thesis can be found in his 1960 book Word and Object, which gathered together and refined much of Quine's previous work on subjects other than formal logic and set theory. The indeterminacy of translation is also discussed at length in his Ontological Relativity. Crispin Wright suggests that this "has been among the most widely discussed and controversial theses in modern analytical philosophy". This view is endorsed by Putnam who states that it is "the most fascinating and the most discussed philosophical argument since Kant's Transcendental Deduction of the Categories".Three aspects of indeterminacy arise, of which two relate to indeterminacy of translation. The three indeterminacies are (i) inscrutability of reference, and (ii) holophrastic indeterminacy, and (iii) the underdetermination of scientific theory. The last of these, not discussed here, refers to Quine's assessment that evidence alone does not dictate the choice of a scientific theory. The first refers to indeterminacy in interpreting individual words or sub-sentences. The second refers to indeterminacy in entire sentences or more extensive portions of discourse.

Index of philosophy of language articles

This is an index of articles in philosophy of language

A.P. Martinich

Aboutness

Adolph Stöhr

Alexis Kagame

Alfred Jules Ayer

Alphabet of human thought

Ambiguity

Analytic-synthetic distinction

Anaphora

Andrea Bonomi

Applicative Universal Grammar

Archie J. Bahm

Arda Denkel

Aristotle

Artificial intelligence

Association for Logic, Language and Information

Avrum Stroll

Barry Loewer

Berlin Circle

Bertrand Russell

Bob Hale (philosopher)

Calculus ratiocinator

Carl Gustav Hempel

Ramsey sentence

Categorization

Category mistake

Causal theory of reference

César Chesneau Dumarsais

Cheung Kam Ching

Circular definition

Claude Lévi-Strauss

Cognitive synonymy

Colloquial language

Computational humor

Concept

Concept and object

Conceptual metaphor

Context-sensitive grammar

Context principle

Contextualism

Contrast theory of meaning

Contrastivism

Cooperative principle

Cora Diamond

Cratylism

Dagfinn Føllesdal

David Efird

David Kellogg Lewis

De dicto and de re

Definition

Denotation

Descriptivist theory of names

Direct reference theory

Direction of fit

Discourse ethics

Disquotational principle

Donald Davidson (philosopher)

Donkey pronoun

Dramatism

Duns Scotus

Empty name

Engineered language

Enumerative definition

Epistemicism

Ethics and Language

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information

Exemplification

Extensional definition

F. H. Bradley

Family resemblance

Felicity conditions

Ferdinand Ebner

Failure to refer

Form of life (philosophy)

Franz Rosenzweig

Frege's Puzzle

Friedrich Waismann

Function and Concept

G. E. M. Anscombe

Gareth Evans (philosopher)

Genus–differentia definition

George Orwell

Gilbert Ryle

Gordon Park Baker

Gottlob Frege

Grammatology

Hans Kamp

Hector-Neri Castañeda

Henri Bergson

Ideal speech situation

Illocutionary act

Implicature

Indeterminacy (philosophy)

Indeterminacy of translation

Indexicality

Indirect self-reference

Inferential role semantics

Ingeborg Bachmann

Intension

Intensional definition

Internalism and externalism

Interpretation (logic)

J. L. Austin

Jacques Bouveresse

James F. Conant

Jody Azzouni

John Etchemendy

John McDowell

Jonathan Bennett (philosopher)

Journal of Logic, Language and Information

Karl-Otto Apel

Katarzyna Jaszczolt

Keith Donnellan

Kent Bach

Kit Fine

Language-game

Language and thought

Language of thought

Language, Truth, and Logic

Latitudinarianism (philosophy)

Lexical definition

Lexis (Aristotle)

Linguistic determinism

Linguistic relativity

Linguistic turn

Linguistics and Philosophy

List of philosophers of language

Logical atomism

Logical form

Logical positivism

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Marilyn Frye

Martian scientist

Max Black

Meaning (linguistics)

Meaning (non-linguistic)

Meaning (philosophy of language)

Meaning (semiotics)

Mediated reference theory

Meinong's jungle

Mental representation

Mental space

Metalanguage

Metaphor in philosophy

Michael Devitt

Michael Dummett

Modal property

Modistae

Modularity of mind

Moritz Schlick

Mumbo Jumbo (phrase)

Naming and Necessity

Nelson Goodman

New Foundations

Nino Cocchiarella

Noam Chomsky

Nomenclature

Nominalism

Non-rigid designator

Nonsense

Norm (philosophy)

Object language

On Denoting

Ontological commitment

Operational definition

Ordinary language philosophy

Ostensive definition

Otto Neurath

P. F. Strawson

Paradigm-case argument

Paralanguage

Paul Boghossian

Paul Grice

Performative contradiction

Performative text

Performative utterance

Persuasive definition

Peter Abelard

Peter Millican

Philosophical interpretation of classical physics

Philosophical Investigations

Philosophy and literature

Philosophy of language

Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer

Plato's Problem

Port-Royal Grammar

Pragmatics

Precising definition

Principle of charity

Principle of compositionality

Private language argument

Proper name (philosophy)

Proposition

Psychologism

Quotation

Radical translation

Rational reconstruction

Redundancy theory of truth

Reference

Relevance theory

Rhetoric of social intervention model

Richard von Mises

Rigid designator

Robert Brandom

Robert Maximilian de Gaynesford

Robert Stalnaker

Round square copula

Rudolf Carnap

S. Morris Engel

Saul Kripke

Scalar implicature

Scientific essentialism

Sebastian Shaumyan

Secondary reference

Self-reference

Semantic externalism

Semantic holism

Semantics

Semeiotic

Semiotics

Sense and reference

Sense and Sensibilia (Austin)

Shabda

Sign

Singular term

Slingshot argument

Social semiotics

Speech act

Sphota

Stanley Cavell

Statement (logic)

Stipulative definition

Structuralism

Supposition theory

Susan Stebbing

Swampman

Symbiosism

Symbol

Symbol grounding

Syntax

The Naturalization of Intentionality

Theoretical definition

Theory of descriptions

Þorsteinn Gylfason

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Transparency (linguistic)

True name

Truth-conditional semantics

Truth-value link

Truthbearer

Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Type physicalism

Universal grammar

Universal language

Universal pragmatics

Use–mention distinction

Vagueness

Verification theory

Verificationism

Vienna Circle

Virgil Aldrich

Walter Benjamin

Willard Van Orman Quine

William Alston

William C. Dowling

William Crathorn

Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language

Word and Object

Word sense

Yehoshua Bar-Hillel

Zeno Vendler

Zhuangzi

Ineffability

Ineffability is concerned with ideas that cannot or should not be expressed in spoken words (or language in general), often being in the form of a taboo or incomprehensible term. This property is commonly associated with philosophy, aspects of existence, and similar concepts that are inherently "too great", complex or abstract to be communicated adequately. A typical example is the name of God in Judaism, written as YHWH but substituted with "the Lord" or "HaShem" (the name) when reading.

In addition, illogical statements, principles, reasons and arguments may be considered intrinsically ineffable along with impossibilities, contradictions and paradoxes. Terminology describing the nature of experience cannot be conveyed properly in dualistic symbolic language; it is believed that this knowledge is only held by the individual from which it originates. Profanity and vulgarisms can easily and clearly be stated, but by those who believe they should not be said, they are considered ineffable. Thus, one method of describing something that is ineffable is by using apophasis, i.e. describing what it is not, rather than what it is. The architect Le Corbusier described his design for the interior of the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp as L'espace indicible translated to mean 'ineffable space', a spiritual experience which was difficult to describe.

Meaning

Meaning may refer to:

Meaning (existential), the worth of life in contemporary existentialism

Meaning (linguistics), meaning which is communicated through the use of language

Meaning (non-linguistic), a general term of art to capture senses of the word "meaning", independent from its linguistic uses

Meaning (philosophy of language), definition, elements, and types of meaning discussed in philosophy

Meaning (psychology), epistemological position, in psychology as well as philosophy, linguistics, semiotics and sociology

Meaning (semiotics), the distribution of signs in sign relations

The meaning of life, a notion concerning the nature of human existence

Nonsense word

A nonsense word, unlike a sememe, may have no definition. Nonsense words can be classified depending on their orthographic and phonetic similarity with (meaningful) words. If it can be pronounced according to a language's phonotactics, it is a pseudoword. Nonsense words are used in literature for poetic or humorous effect. Proper names of real or fictional entities are sometimes nonsense words.

A stunt word is a nonsense word used for a special effect, or to attract attention, as part of a performance. Such words are a feature of the work of Dr. Seuss ("Sometimes I am quite certain there's a Jertain in the curtain").The ability to infer the (hypothetical) meaning of a nonsense word from context is used to test for brain damage.

Radical interpretation

Radical interpretation is interpretation of a speaker, including attributing beliefs and desires to them and meanings to their words, from scratch—that is, without relying on translators, dictionaries, or specific prior knowledge of their mental states. The term was introduced by American philosopher Donald Davidson (1973) and is meant to suggest important similarity to W. V. O. Quine's term radical translation, which occurs in his work on the indeterminacy of translation. Radical translation

is translation of a speaker's language, without prior knowledge, by observing the speaker's use of the language in context.Even more so than radical translation did for Quine, radical interpretation plays an important role in Davidson's work, but the exact nature of this role is up for debate. Some see Davidson as using radical interpretation directly in his arguments against conceptual relativism and the possibility of massive error--of most of our beliefs being false. But Davidson seems to explicitly reject this reading in "Radical Interpretation Interpreted".There is also a more narrow and technical version of radical interpretation used by Davidson: given the speaker's attitudes of holding particular sentences true in particular circumstances, the speaker's hold-true attitudes, the radical interpreter is to infer a theory of meaning, a truth theory meeting a modified version of Alfred Tarski's Convention T, for the speaker's idiolect. Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig characterize this as inference from sentences of the form:

Ceteris paribus, S holds true s at t if and only if p.to corresponding T-sentences of the form

s is true (S, t) if and only if qwhere s is a sentence in the idiolect of the speaker S, t is a time, and p and q are filled in with sentences in the metalanguage.

Semiotic square

The semiotic square, also known as the Greimas square, is a tool used in structural analysis of the relationships between semiotic signs through the opposition of concepts, such as feminine-masculine or beautiful-ugly, and of extending the relevant ontology.

The semiotic square, derived from Aristotle's logical square of opposition, was developed by Algirdas J. Greimas, a French-Lithuanian linguist and semiotician, who considered the semiotic square to be the elementary structure of meaning.

Greimas first presented the square in Semantique Structurale (1966), a book which was later published as Structural Semantics: An Attempt at a Method (1983). He further developed the semiotic square with Francois Rastier in "The Interaction of Semiotic Constraints" (1968).

Understanding

Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object.

Understanding is a relation between the knower and an object of understanding. Understanding implies abilities and dispositions with respect to an object of knowledge that are sufficient to support intelligent behaviour.Understanding is often, though not always, related to learning concepts, and sometimes also the theory or theories associated with those concepts. However, a person may have a good ability to predict the behaviour of an object, animal or system—and therefore may, in some sense, understand it—without necessarily being familiar with the concepts or theories associated with that object, animal or system in their culture. They may have developed their own distinct concepts and theories, which may be equivalent, better or worse than the recognised standard concepts and theories of their culture. Thus, understanding is correlated with the ability to make inferences.

Word sense

In linguistics, a word sense is one of the meanings of a word. Words are in two sets: a large set with multiple meanings (word senses) and a small set with only one meaning (word sense). For example, a dictionary may have over 50 different senses of the word "play", each of these having a different meaning based on the context of the word's usage in a sentence, as follows:

We went to see the play Romeo and Juliet at the theater.

The coach devised a great play that put the visiting team on the defensive.

The children went out to play in the park.

In each sentence we associate a different meaning of the word "play" based on hints the rest of the sentence gives us.

People and computers, as they read words, must use a process called word-sense disambiguation to find the correct meaning of a word. This process uses context to narrow the possible senses down to the probable ones. The context includes such things as the ideas conveyed by adjacent words and nearby phrases, the known or probable purpose and register of the conversation or document, and the orientation (time and place) implied or expressed. The disambiguation is thus context-sensitive.

Advanced semantic analysis has resulted in a sub-distinction. A word sense corresponds either neatly to a seme (the smallest possible unit of meaning) or a sememe (larger unit of meaning), and polysemy of a word of phrase is the property of having multiple semes or sememes and thus multiple senses.

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