LINC12: September 4, 2013
Conference November 15th: Undergraduate Conference in Linguistics
Submit your papers..
Analyzing French data, but discussions in English.
-> The most frustrating part about being a Semanticist is that you have far more questions than answers
-> how philosophers approach semantics
-> looking at meaning as definitions
-> describing what meaning is and different approaches one might have to meaning
-> can all meanings be defined? Think of words that have several definitions; how do you know which
definition is the right one?
-> relationships between meanings/words: synonyms that have the same or similar meanings
-> ex. students and pupils are the same thing, but you can't say you have a student in your eye.
-> the overlap between words; more than one word exists because of the need to have more than one
-> antonyms: opposites ; different types, such as complete opposites, like hot and cold, but where does
warm fit in?
-> combining words to form meanings and sentences
-> literal and non-literal meanings: saying something literal = going word by word… meaning is clear, or
using expressions, such as raining cats and dogs.
-> how meanings can change over times; do all languages express the same meaning in words?
-> block of generations: meanings from one generation to another: " I saw a movie and it was sick."
What is meaning?
- imagine a language with no meaning
- ideas, intentions behind language; things we refer to; translations
- What would be the point to learn or speak a language if it had no meaning? The reason to learn new
languages is to communicate to a wider audience
- think of an aboriginal from a small town in South America with a community of only 1400 with a
unique language. If they move to a big city, their language has no meaning to the greater public- ONLY
to communicate amongst themselves.
ex. 'What do you mean when you say "semantics if compplicated"?' (idea)
ex. ' I meant eastern Scarborough, not central Scarborough." (things we refer to)
ex. ' Fraise means "strawberry" in French." (translations)
- 'semantics'- 19th century French linguists, Michel Breal
- from Greek semantikos= 'relating to signs'
Semiotics- the science of signs
-> language as a symbol or a sign
Linguistics semantics- the vocabulary and the words, and how you use it; pragmatics is basically
everything else, such as gestures and body language- ALL NON VERBAL LANGUAGE. (Tone?)
- semiotic : intent to communicate, communicative intention
- non-semiotics: an intent to do something, but not to communicate - for example, waving at someone: yes, it is an action and you are doing something, but it is an intent to
communicate: moving from non-semiotic behavior to semiotic
- facial expressions can also be semiotic
Pretheoretical explanation of meaning
- descriptive approach; trying to describe what is the meaning, how can we understand it, and why is
meaning a difficult thing to study?
Meaning in English
- in English, meaning is a verb and therefore does something. It refers to the relationship b/w language,
the world, and our own minds and intentions
Type of relationships:
ex. When I said she was from Paris, I meant Paris, Ontario, not Paris, France.
- speaker is identifying that only one meaning/ location was intended
- essentially a 3-way relation; linguistic meaning - a piece of language (the utterance or sentence), b/w
the world, and the mind of the speaker/ persons perspective/ intention
ex. In Toronto, 'the Ex' means the Canadian National Exhibition
- a relation b/w the language and the world; linguistic meaning
ex. 'Clean' means 'free from dirt, marks, or stains'.
- no explicit reference to the outside world or somebody's mind or intention. It's just saying that this
means that; its an equivalence b/w two linguistics items, being clean and the other words used to
explain the meaning; linguistic meaning
ex. By slamming the door, I didn't mean that I was mad at you.
- a mind-world relation; communicated meaning; a misinterpretation. Here, if you don't use language to
clarify, it is a mind-world relation: the mind being what was interpreted by the door, and the world is
the physicality of slamming the door itself. What is communicated here may seem to be anger, but if
you don't want it to be anger, you would introduce the linguistic component (language) in order to make
it a 3 way relationship to explain.
ex. Air means life.
- no longer about a person's mind, communicative intention: it is a world-world relationship; refers to
significance and is connected to our knowledge. Without air, you cannot breath and therefore cannot
live. We equate air with life.
Meaning in English refers to non-linguistic meaning, meaning by language, and meaning through our
knowledge of the world.
Meaning in French
- 'to m