Meaning and Relevance

Cambridge University Press
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When people speak, their words never fully encode what they mean, and the context is always compatible with a variety of interpretations. How can comprehension ever be achieved? Wilson and Sperber argue that comprehension is a process of inference guided by precise expectations of relevance. What are the relations between the linguistically encoded meanings studied in semantics and the thoughts that humans are capable of entertaining and conveying? How should we analyse literal meaning, approximations, metaphors and ironies? Is the ability to understand speakers' meanings rooted in a more general human ability to understand other minds? How do these abilities interact in evolution and in cognitive development? Meaning and Relevance sets out to answer these and other questions, enriching and updating relevance theory and exploring its implications for linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science and literary studies.
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About the author

Deirdre Wilson is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at University College London and Research Professor at the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature at the University of Oslo.

Dan Sperber is Emeritus Directeur de Recherche at the Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS, Paris and part-time university professor in the departments of philosophy and cognitive science at the Central European University, Budapest.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cambridge University Press
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Published on
Mar 22, 2012
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Pages
397
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ISBN
9781107376779
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / General
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / Semantics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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MORE THAN 15 YEARS OF WORK TO PREPARE THIS UNIQUE DICTIONARY


People often say they haven’t yet found a good dictionary to interpret their dreams, signs and symbols. The Source Code brings a whole new vision to the subject and will surely become one of the most important reference books in this field. It will be published simultaneously in English and French and found in bookstores and malls in many countries all over the world, including the UK and the USA. It’s written by Kaya, one of today’s most eminent specialists in dream interpretation, assisted by over 100 of his students, who are doctors, psychologists, nurses, therapists, linguists, teachers and specialists in many fields, in many different countries. The idea of uniting so many people for this extraordinary project came from the workshops Kaya has been giving on dream and symbol interpretation for over 12 years now. During these workshops, when Kaya asked students in groups of 4 to deepen and define symbols, he realized how advanced they were, and so he asked them to help him finish his work. Hence his publishing house, UCM set up work teams to carry out the necessary research so Kaya could then write the final metaphysical syntheses and definitions.


A book presenting the + and – of each symbol


The Dictionary, Dreams-Signs-Symbols, The Source Code, helps us discover, in great depth, over 870 pages, the most common words in dreams and signs. Each word is analyzed in detail with its physical and metaphysical characteristics, and a synthesis defining the + and – of each symbol is included. This provides the reader with an analytical, understandable vision of the various different possible interpretations. Just one word may occupy 2 or 3 explanatory pages, which makes this Dictionary very complete from all points of view. Readers will also find a detailed introduction explaining dream mechanics as well as the multiple angles and subtleties of dream and sign interpretation.


Extract from the Preface by Kasara (Kaya’s daughter)


The day we receive The Source Code, our life changes completely… Shortly after my birth, my father’s life completely changed. From one day to the next, he started having 10-50 dreams every night. He studied dreams in his dream. He could no longer tell the difference between dream and reality. To everyone’s surprise, he quit everything. He became the village fool, the incomprehensible hermit, and all to deepen his research and understanding of dreams. Everyone either laughed at him or didn’t understand. I lived through this change alongside him – those early years when we feel other people’s fear and mistrust because we aren’t like everyone else. The greatest philosophers and scholars of the past often lived as visionaries before being really understood, because they traced a new path, one which called into question our way of thinking and understanding of the world we live in.


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This book explores the value for literary studies of the model of communication known as relevance theory. Drawing on a wide range of examples—lyric poems by Yeats, Herrick, Heaney, Dickinson, and Mary Oliver, novels by Cervantes, Flaubert, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton—nine of the ten essays are written by literary specialists and use relevance theory both as a broad framing perspective and as a resource for detailed analysis. The final essay, by Deirdre Wilson, co-founder (with Dan Sperber) of relevance theory, takes a retrospective view of the issues addressed by the volume and considers the implications of literary studies for cognitive approaches to communication. Relevance theory, described by Alastair Fowler as 'nothing less than the makings of a radically new theory of communication, the first since Aristotle's', offers a comprehensive pragmatics of language and communication grounded in evidence about the ways humans think and behave. While designed to capture the everyday murmur of conversation, gossip, peace-making, hate speech, love speech, 'body-language', and the chatter of the internet, it covers the whole spectrum of human modes of communication, including literature in the broadest sense as a characteristically human activity. Reading Beyond the Code is unique in using relevance theory as a prime resource for literary study, and it is also the first to claim that the model works best for literature when understood in the light of a broader cognitive approach, focusing on a range of phenomena that support an 'embodied' conception of cognition and language. This broadened perspective serves to enhance the value for literary studies of the central claim of relevance theory, that the 'code model' is fundamentally inadequate to account for human communication, and in particular for the modes of communication that are proper to literature.
The latest edition of a popular introductory linguistics text, now including a section on computational linguistics, new non-English examples, quizzes for each chapter, and additional special topics.

This popular introductory linguistics text is unique for its integration of themes. Rather than treat morphology, phonetics, phonology, syntax, and semantics as completely separate fields, the book shows how they interact. The authors provide a sound introduction to linguistic methodology, focusing on a set of linguistic concepts that are among the most fundamental within the field. By studying the topics in detail, students can get a feeling for how work in different areas of linguistics is done.

As in the last edition, part I covers the structural and interpretive parts of language—morphology, phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, variation, and change. Part II covers use and context of language and includes chapters on pragmatics, psychology of language, language acquisition, and language and the brain. This seventh edition has been extensively revised and updated; new material includes a chapter on computational linguistics, more non-English examples, and a wide range of exercises, quizzes, and special topics.

The seventh edition of Linguistics includes access to a new, web-based eCourse and enhanced eTextbook. The content from the former print supplement A Linguistics Workbook is now available in this online eCourse as interactive exercises. The eCourse is available via the Rent eTextbook link at http://mitpress.mit.edu/linguistics7, and may be used on its own for self-study or integrated with instructor-led learning management systems.

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A leading expert on evolution and communication presents an empirically based theory of the evolutionary origins of human communication that challenges the dominant Chomskian view.

Human communication is grounded in fundamentally cooperative, even shared, intentions. In this original and provocative account of the evolutionary origins of human communication, Michael Tomasello connects the fundamentally cooperative structure of human communication (initially discovered by Paul Grice) to the especially cooperative structure of human (as opposed to other primate) social interaction. Tomasello argues that human cooperative communication rests on a psychological infrastructure of shared intentionality (joint attention, common ground), evolved originally for collaboration and culture more generally. The basic motives of the infrastructure are helping and sharing: humans communicate to request help, inform others of things helpfully, and share attitudes as a way of bonding within the cultural group. These cooperative motives each created different functional pressures for conventionalizing grammatical constructions. Requesting help in the immediate you-and-me and here-and-now, for example, required very little grammar, but informing and sharing required increasingly complex grammatical devices. Drawing on empirical research into gestural and vocal communication by great apes and human infants (much of it conducted by his own research team), Tomasello argues further that humans' cooperative communication emerged first in the natural gestures of pointing and pantomiming. Conventional communication, first gestural and then vocal, evolved only after humans already possessed these natural gestures and their shared intentionality infrastructure along with skills of cultural learning for creating and passing along jointly understood communicative conventions. Challenging the Chomskian view that linguistic knowledge is innate, Tomasello proposes instead that the most fundamental aspects of uniquely human communication are biological adaptations for cooperative social interaction in general and that the purely linguistic dimensions of human communication are cultural conventions and constructions created by and passed along within particular cultural groups.

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