The demise of a unique concept of literal meaning

  title={The demise of a unique concept of literal meaning},
  author={Mira Ariel},
  journal={Journal of Pragmatics},
  • Mira Ariel
  • Published 1 April 2002
  • Psychology
  • Journal of Pragmatics

The language game of lost meaning: Using literal meaning as a metalinguistic resource

Abstract By literal meaning (LM) we usually refer to a theoretical notion which is at the center of a big debate involving philosophers and linguists with various orientations. At the same time, LM

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In the recent defense of literal’meaning, it is shown that such a theoretical construct is “psychologically real” and Gibbs (1989) grants this point.

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  • R. Gibbs
  • Psychology, Philosophy
    Cogn. Sci.
  • 1989
The author argues that there is not a well-defined set of conditions for specifying the literal meaning of sentences in terms of compositional analysis and that the experimental evidence speaks negatively as to whether people must analyze the literal meanings of sentences as part of the process of understanding speakers’ utterances.

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Scholars in many areas of cognitive science adhere to the belief that sentences have well‐defined literal meanings. However, there are at least five ideas as to what constitutes the literal meaning

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  • M. Dascal
  • Philosophy, Psychology
    Cogn. Sci.
  • 1987
It will be necessary first to sketch an alternative conception of literal meaning which will be able to cope with most of the theoretical points raised by Gibbs and others against literal meaning, and to consider the empirical evidence that allegedly shows that this notion has no psychological validity.

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