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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2019

9 The emergence of linguistic semantics in the 19th and early 20th century

From the book Semantics - Foundations, History and Methods

  • Brigitte Nerlich


This chapter deals with the 19th-century roots of current cognitive and pragmatic approaches to the study of meaning and meaning change. It demonstrates that 19th-century linguistic semantics has more to offer than the atomistic historicism for which 19th-century linguistics became known and for which it was often criticised. By contrast, semanticists in Germany, France and Britain in particular sought to study meaning and change of meaning from a much more holistic point of view, seeking inspiration from philosophy, biology, geology, psychology, and sociology to study how meaning is ‘made’ in the context of social interaction and how it changes over time under pressure from changing linguistic, societal and cognitive needs and influences.

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