Key Ideas in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language

Key Ideas in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language

Key Ideas in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language

Key Ideas in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language

Synopsis

In this book are entries introducing eighty ideas that have shaped the study of language up to the present day. Written by experts in the fields of linguistics and the philosophy of language, these entries reflect the full range of approaches and modes of thought. Each one includes a brief description of the idea, an account of its development, and an analysis of its impact on the field of language study. The book features clear descriptions of technical terms, guides to further reading, and extensive cross-referencing between entries. It also cross-references with Key Thinkers in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language (Edinburgh, 2005), revealing significant connections and continuities in the two related disciplines. Ideas covered range from sense data, artificial intelligence, and logic to generative semantics, cognitivism, and conversation analysis, from political correctness to deconstruction and corpora.

Excerpt

The ideas described in this book have been developed in linguistics and the philosophy of language, as well as in some related disciplines such as mathematics, logic and psychology. They necessarily represent only a very small proportion of the long tradition of the serious study of language; we have chosen them because of their impact on current work in linguistics and the philosophy of language. These two disciplines are subdivided into many different branches. Linguistics, for example, includes work undertaken in semantics, pragmatics, phonology, syntax, sociolinguistics and many other fields. In general we have not treated these individual fields as key ideas in their own right. You will not, for instance, find an entry here on ‘Pragmatics’, but you will find topics from the field of pragmatics discussed under entries such as ‘Implicature’, ‘Relevance Theory’ and ‘Speech Act Theory’. The names of different branches of linguistics and the philosophy of language do, however, appear in the index. Similarly, we have avoided allocating entries to descriptive categories such as ‘adjective’, ‘phrase’ or ‘conjunction’.

The entries are arranged in simple alphabetical order, and aim to elucidate each key idea, offering a succinct definition followed by a more discursive account of the development of the idea and of its impact and current relevance. The book can therefore be used as a stand-alone reference work. However, it is also designed to be used in conjunction with our Key Thinkers in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language (2005). The coverage of these two volumes is similar: broadly, the study of language in the Western tradition from antiquity to the present-day, with an emphasis on work that has been influential on linguistics and the philosophy of language as they are practised in the early part of the twenty-first century. However, the two are complementary in that they arrange and present the material in different ways. Key Thinkers considers different ways of thinking about language in the context of the work of the particular figures with which they are most closely associated, drawing out continuities and developments of thought in their particular historical and social context. Key Ideas focuses on the development of specific ways of thinking, sometimes across many decades or centuries, considering the influences on these ways of thinking, the relationships between them, and their overall significance.

Each entry is cross-referenced both internally within this book and externally to Key Thinkers. The internal cross-references (‘See also’) draw attention to other key ideas that are relevant to the particular entry. These may be ideas that are concerned with similar or related issues (such as the reference from ‘Deduction/Induction’ to ‘Empiricism/Rationalism); ideas that form a specific topic within a more general approach (such as the reference from ‘Speech Act Theory’ . . .

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