Psychology of Language--Baldwin Meaning
Ellis Ch. 4: Meaning • “Meaning” as a reference both to: • Specific objects: my computer • Categories, abstract qualities: /computer/ • Problems with “meaning” • Words are associated • Words are ambiguous • Words are redundant • Words are poetic, metaphoric, contradictory, anomalous
Structural Semantics • Object language—the meaning of “a complex expression of objects” (Ellis, 1999, p. 57). • Assumes meaning already assigned to words through social construction • Not concerned with actual meanings or “providing clues to common usage” (p. 57) • Concerned with way a sentence can be “true”: • Empirical truth: Kelvin has dreadlocks • Linguistic truth: All men have dreadlocks…if, then, and • Point: The logical validity of sentences (via structure) • Entailment: Suzy, my cat, had her tail cut off…
Semantics: Structural • Criticisms of structural semantics? • Stop-gaps: • Contextual semantics: how people assign meaning in context (including, but not limited to possibility, probability, etc.) • Lexical semantics: Study of word meanings… • Standard Theory: (Chomsky) • Markers: characteristics that show similarity/difference: Whale Shark Jellyfish • +AQUATIC, etc. • Rules: What the category of meaning can do or not do (not semantic!): The woman carried her whale in her briefcase.
Implications of Semantics • Linguistic relativity: the future subjunctive… • Parsing meaning: • Wine • Doritos… • TP… • New words • Where do they come from? • How are they formed? • How do some catch on and others not?
Langue and Parole (beyond Ellis) • Langue: The structural meanings, usages, available in a language • Parole: The meaning of a specific utterance in its context, the actual words and behaviors of communication
The Basics • Connotation • Denotation • Triangle of Meaning • Proper meaning superstition (line at bottom should be dotted!)
Practice [B-a-b-e] [A-r-a-b]
Symbolic Interactionism • Humans are distinct…symbol manipulating • “The social world is a dynamic and dialectical web”…unstable, in process, never fixed • “The social world is…interactive” • SI seeks to look beneath symbols to find “underlying patterns and forms of social life” • Implications • Mind • Self • Society (and language, and meaning!)
Semiotics • Original Semiotics—Saussure and Others • Sign = signified + signifier • Not word & object, but sound pattern & category (sense, but not reference) • Value of sign depends on relation to other signs
Semiotics--Barthes • Sign = signifier + signified • Sign systems and codes • Ideology/myth
Postmodernism • Fragmented meanings • Contradictory ideologies • “Pastiche” • Pleasure