Semantic Analysis: A Practical Introduction (Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics), by Cliff Goddard


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Semantic Analysis: A Practical Introduction (Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics), by Cliff Goddard

Semantic Analysis: A Practical Introduction (Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics), by Cliff Goddard

Semantic Analysis: A Practical Introduction (Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics), by Cliff Goddard

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Semantic Analysis: A Practical Introduction (Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics), by Cliff Goddard

This lively textbook introduces students and scholars to practical and precise methods for articulating the meanings of words and sentences, and for revealing connections between language and culture. Topics range over emotions, speech acts, words for animals and artifacts, motion, activity verbs, causatives, discourse particles, and nonverbal communication. Alongside English, it features a wide range of other languages, including Malay, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Spanish, and Australian Aboriginal languages. Undergraduates, graduate students and professional linguists alike will benefit from Goddard’s wide-ranging summaries, clear explanations and analytical depth. Meaning is fundamental to language and linguistics. This book shows that the study of meaning can be rigorous, insightful and exciting.

  • Sales Rank: #632924 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-09-25
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 6.60″ h x 1.20″ w x 9.60″ l, 2.00 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 448 pages

Review
a valuable textbook grounded in the Natural Semantic Metalanguage theory, with enough breadth and depth to be suitable for most basic semantics courses. Onna Nelson, Studies in Language

About the Author

Cliff Goddard is Professor of Linguistics at Griffith University, Australia. He was previously Professor of Linguistics, University of New England. His books include The Languages of East and Southeast Asia (OUP 2005). He is co-editor with Anna Wierzbicka of Meaning and Universal Grammar (Benjamins 2002) with whom he is currently working on a book concerned with words and meanings.

Most helpful customer reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful.
Review of Goddard, _Semantic Analysis_
By Kenneth L. Miner
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

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
One Star
By Henry
Limited download is a rip-off. I want full access to what I bought.

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