Introducing English Semantics

Introducing English Semantics

Introducing English Semantics

Introducing English Semantics


Introducing English Semantics is a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the study of meaning.Charles W. Kreidler presents the basic principles of this discipline. He explores how languages organize and express meanings through words, parts of words and sentences. Introducing English Semantics :* deals with relations of words to other words, and sentences to other sentences* illustrates the importance of 'tone of voice' and 'body language' in face-to-face exchanges, and the role of context in any communication* makes random comparisons of features in other languages* explores the knowledge speakers of a language must have in common to enable them to communicate* discusses the nature of language; the structure of discourse; the distinction between lexical and grammatical meaning* examines such relations as synonymy, antonymy, and hyponymy; ambiguity; implication; factivity; aspect; and modalityWritten in a clear, accessible style, Introducing English Semantics will be an essential text for any student following an introductory course in semantics. Assuming no prior knowledge of linguistics, all technical terms are clearly defined in an accompanying glossary and active participation is encouraged through numerous exercises.


This textbook is intended to introduce principles of linguistic semantics at university level. In writing it I have had two groups of students in mind: I hope it will be useful for imparting a knowledge of semantics to students specializing in linguistics and that it also can be used in a general liberal-arts curriculum, in a course that leads non-specialists to think about the nature of language as they might otherwise not do. Little or no background in linguistics is assumed.

As the title suggests, the book differs from any other text now in print in its special focus on the English language and in the attention it gives to the lexical and grammatical devices that English employs to express meanings. Students should finish the course with a sense of what semantics is about and how semantic analysis is done; they should also have a deeper appreciation of English and of the nature of language in general.

I have avoided extensive formalism or an overly theoretical framework. And, since the field or semantics includes much more than an introductory text can cover, some instructors will want to supplement what is here. I hope the suggested reading lists at the end of each chapter will be of use for that purpose.

Learning linguistics requires a heavy involvement with data—words, phrases, sentences and more extended discourse—and I have tried to provide these both in the presentation of

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