Cognitive Approaches


The encyclopaedic view of meaning

1. Language refers to concepts in the mind of a speaker/hearer (that arise from bodily experience) rather than to entities in an external objective world 2. Language itself does not encode meaning, instead, linguistic units serve as points of access to vast repositories of knowledge and as prompts for meaning construction

encyclopaedic view of meaning

1. Semantic structure (the meaning associated with linguistic units like words) provides access to a large inventory of structured knowledge (the conceptual system) 2. This encyclopaedic knowledge is grounded in human interaction with others (social experience) and the world around us (physical experience)

The dictionary view

Meaning can be divided into a dictionary component (word meaning) & an encyclopaedic component (world knowledge) Dictionary knowledge: relates to knowing what words mean (represented by the mental lexicon) Encyclopaedic knowledge: is external to linguistic knowledge

Shoelace: a cord or leather strip passed through holes or or hooks on opposite sides of a show and pulled tight and fastened [Oxford Dictionary]  Dictionary component  Lexical semantics

Knowing where to buy shoelaces, how to tie them, that you should tie them etc.  Encyclopaedic knowledge  Pragmatics

Dictionary c.  componential analysis Bachelor: [+ male + adult - married]

		core meaning

Encyclopaedic knowledge:

Dictionary (linguistic knowledge)Encyclopaedic (non-linguistic knowledge)
Concerns sense (what words mean)Relates to the discipline semantics
Is stored in the mental lexiconConcerns reference (what speakers do with words)
Relates to the discipline pragmatics Is governed by principles of language use

  1. There is no principled distinction between semantics & pragmatics
  2. Encyclopaedic meaning is structured
  3. There is a distinction between encyclopaedic meaning & contextual meaning
  4. Lexical items are points of access to encyclopaedic knowledge
  5. Encyclopaedic knowledge is dynamic