Meaning and Universal Grammar

Theory and empirical findings

Volume 2

Cliff Goddard | The University of New England
ORCID logoAnna Wierzbicka | The Australian National University
ISBN 9789027230645 (Eur) | EUR 120.00
ISBN 9781588112651 (USA) | USD 180.00
ISBN 9789027281869 | EUR 120.00 | USD 180.00
Google Play logo
This book develops a bold new approach to universal grammar, based on research findings of the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) program. The key idea is that universal grammar is constituted by the inherent grammatical properties of some 60 empirically established semantic primes, which appear to have concrete exponents in all languages. For six typologically divergent languages (Mangaaba-Mbula, Mandarin Chinese, Lao, Malay, Spanish and Polish), contributors identify exponents of the primes and work through a substantial set of hypotheses about their combinatorics, valency properties, complementation options, etc. Each study can also be read as a semantically-based typological profile. Four theoretical chapters by the editors describe the NSM approach and its application to grammatical typology. As a study of empirical universals in grammar, this book is unique for its rigorous semantic orientation, its methodological consistency, and its wealth of cross-linguistic detail.
[Studies in Language Companion Series, 61] 2002.  xvi, 337 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“This is a very important work and represents a major advance in the understanding of the dependence of syntactic description on an explicit semantic analysis. This work is especially valuable because the role of semantics, particularly the lexical semantics of verbs, has become increasingly central in current formal theories of syntax, and few semantic theories are as well worked out as that presented here. Syntactic theorists would be well advised to study this book carefully before they glibly invoke vague ( and potentially circular) semantic explanations for syntactic problems.”
“The entire book is written in a maximally clear and simple language. It invites the reader, in a friendly manner, into the creative laboratory, where there is being accomplished a wondrous process of reaching the complex through the simple. At the same time, it is a simplicity deeply thought through; behind it lies a professionalism of the highest order and many years of systematic thinking about the nature of human language.”
“Irrespective of theoretical orientation, one can only be impressed by the scope of the empirical investigation as well as the depth and insight of the resulting semantic descriptions. The theoretical tenets of Anna Wierzbicka's Natural Semantic Metalanguage approach are provocative and highly controversial. They focus attention on fundamental issues and force us to rethink the nature of linguistic meaning and psychologically plausible semantic descriptions. Linguists of all persuasions can profit from examining the analyses presented in this work, the theoretical proposals made, and their possible ramifications.”
Cited by

Cited by 22 other publications

Asano-Cavanagh, Yuko
2020. Lost in translation: A semantic analysis of no da in Japanese. In Meaning, Life and Culture: In conversation with Anna Wierzbicka,  pp. 229 ff. DOI logo
Bogusławski, Andrzej
2021. Lingwistyczna teoria mowy. Preliminaria, DOI logo
Bogusławski, Andrzej
2023. Metodologia lingwistyki. Zarys, DOI logo
Bułat Silva, Zuzanna
2020. TIME in Portuguese saudade and other words of longing. In Meaning, Life and Culture: In conversation with Anna Wierzbicka,  pp. 211 ff. DOI logo
Erben Johansson, Niklas, Andrey Anikin, Gerd Carling & Arthur Holmer
2020. The typology of sound symbolism: Defining macro-concepts via their semantic and phonetic features. Linguistic Typology 24:2  pp. 253 ff. DOI logo
Gladkova, Anna
2020. The semantics of verbs of visual aesthetic appreciation in Russian. In Meaning, Life and Culture: In conversation with Anna Wierzbicka,  pp. 155 ff. DOI logo
Gladkova, Anna
2022. Emotions and attitudes in present day Russian through the prism of new words: Cultural semantics of zhest’ and related concepts. Russian Journal of Linguistics 26:4  pp. 970 ff. DOI logo
Goddard, Cliff
1997. Semantic primes and grammatical categories∗. Australian Journal of Linguistics 17:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Goddard, Cliff
2006. Cultural Scripts. In Handbook of Pragmatics,  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Goddard, Cliff & Anna Wierzbicka
2014. Semantic fieldwork and lexical universals. Studies in Language 38:1  pp. 80 ff. DOI logo
Goddard, Cliff, Anna Wierzbicka & Horacio Fabréga
2014. Evolutionary semantics: using NSM to model stages in human cognitive evolution. Language Sciences 42  pp. 60 ff. DOI logo
Guidère, Mathieu
2011. La médiation humanitaire multilingue. Revue française de linguistique appliquée Vol. XVI:1  pp. 51 ff. DOI logo
Habib, Sandy
2022. On the verge of extinction: the semantics, pragmatics, and etymology of eight endangered similes in Jish Arabic. Intercultural Pragmatics 19:4  pp. 513 ff. DOI logo
Habib, Sandy
2023. Tense-aspect constructions in Jish Arabic: Morphological, syntactic, and semantic features. Russian Journal of Linguistics 27:2  pp. 363 ff. DOI logo
Haspelmath, Martin
2020. The structural uniqueness of languages and the value of comparison for language description. Asian Languages and Linguistics 1:2  pp. 346 ff. DOI logo
Maremukova, E.V.
2023. Linguocultural Specificity of Categorization and Stereotyping of Color in Languages with Different Structures. Language and Text 10:4  pp. 15 ff. DOI logo
Romero-Trillo, Jesús & Irina Rozina
2023. Is there justice in this world? A cross-cultural pragmatic analysis of the conceptualisation of ‘justice’. Journal of Multicultural Discourses 18:1  pp. 62 ff. DOI logo
Wierzbicka, Anna
2001. Australian Culture and Australian English: A Response to William Ramson. Australian Journal of Linguistics 21:2  pp. 195 ff. DOI logo
Wierzbicka, Anna
2003. ?Reasonable man? and ?reasonable doubt?: the English language, Anglo culture and Anglo-American law. Forensic Linguistics 10:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
2005. Empirical Universals of Language as a Basis for the Study of Other Human Universals and as a Tool for Exploring Cross-Cultural Differences. Ethos 33:2  pp. 256 ff. DOI logo
Wierzbicka, Anna & Anna Gladkova
2020. “There is no Sex in the Soviet Union”: From Sex to Seks. In Studies in Ethnopragmatics, Cultural Semantics, and Intercultural Communication,  pp. 53 ff. DOI logo
Ye, Zhengdao
2014. The meaning of “happiness” (xìngfú) and “emotional pain” (tòngkŭ) in Chinese. International Journal of Language and Culture 1:2  pp. 194 ff. DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 16 april 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Main BIC Subject

CF: Linguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2002066538 | Marc record