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5 Meaning in language use

From the book Semantics - Foundations, History and Methods

  • Georgia M. Green


In a speech community, meaning attaches to linguistic forms through the ways in which speakers use those forms, intending and expecting to communicate with their interlocutors. Grice’s (1957) insight that conventional linguistic meaning amounts to the expectation by members of a speech community that hearers will recognize speakers’ intentions in saying what they say the way they say it. This enabled him to sketch how this related to lexical meaning and presupposition, and (in more detail) implied meaning. The first substantive section of this article briefly recapitulates the work of Bar-Hillel (1954) on indexicals, leading to the conclusion that even definite descriptions have an indexical component. Section 3 describes Grice’s account of the relation of intention to intensions and takes up the notion of illocutionary force. Section 4 explores the implications of the meaning-use relationship for the determination of word meanings. Section 5 touches briefly on the consequences of the centrality of communication for the nature of context and the relation of context and pragmatic considerations to formal semantic accounts.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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