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Title: Language thought and literal meaning
Authors: Chng, Soke Wang
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The notion of literalness in linguistics is based on the following assumptions: Linguistic expressions are vehicle-meaning p airs (since literal meaning has to be the meaning of something). Linguistic expressions have to be cognised a nd used (especially uttered) in order for their meanings to be regarded as literally theirs. "Linguistie, vehicle-meaning relations are fixed and autonomous- - rather than having particular meanings in virtue of being used to express those meanings," linguistie' vehicle-meaning p airs are used to express certain meanings in virtue of having the meanings th at they have. This thesis criticises Chomsky's and Sperber and Wilson's attempts to establish the autonomy of "linguistie'vehicle-meaning pairs. I argue that " Both Chomsky and Sperber and Wilson fail to distinguish "linguistie' semantics from the "real" semantics of what "linguistic" vehicle-meaning pairs are used to express. " They persist in the idea that "linguistic" vehicles are specifically for being uttered (physically instantiated), thus defeating their own purpose of setting the linguistic absolutely apart from what it is used for. " Neither Chomsky's internalist conception of language nor Sperber and Wilson's relevance framework is able to account for the phenomenon of "language misuse", i.e. the use of a "linguistic" vehicle to express the "wrong" meaning. Burton-Roberts' representational conjecture is applied and developed in the presentation of an alternative non/ extra-linguistic account of "literal meaning" and "language use/ misuse". This account has it that neither "linguistic" vehicles nor "linguistic" vehicle-meaning relations are actually linguistic. It avoids the problems attending the notion of linguistic expressions as objects with sortally disjoint and arbitrarily conjoint properties (i.e. physically instantiable "vehicle" and mentally constituted "meaning"), and resolves the unease within Chomsky's Minimalist Program about the inclusion of phonology in I-language. Finally, by way of this resolution, I address some seemingly unrelated issues concerning vehicle-less "meanings" and the relations between l anguage,thought and consciousness.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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