Semantics, Culture, and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Culture-Specific Configurations

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Oxford University Press, Oct 22, 1992 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 496 pages
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Not everything that can be said in one language can be said in another. The lexicons of different languages seem to suggest different conceptual universes. Investigating cultures from a universal, language-independent perspective, this book rejects analytical tools derived from the English language and Anglo culture and proposes instead a "natural semantic metalanguage" formulated in English words but based on lexical universals. The outcome of two and a half decades of research, the metalanguage is made up of universal semantic primitives in terms of which all meanings--including the most culture-specific ones--can be described and compared in a precise and illuminating way. Integrating insights from linguistics, cultural anthropology, and cognitive psychology, and written in simple, non-technical language, Semantics, Culture, and Cognition is accessible not only to scholars and students, but also to the general reader interested in semantics and the relationship between language and culture.
 

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Contents

Soul Mind and Heart
31
Fate and Destiny
65
EMOTIONS ACROSS CULTURES
117
Are Emotions Universal or CultureSpecific?
119
Describing the Indescribable
135
MORAL CONCEPTS ACROSS CULTURES
181
Apatheia Smirenie Humility
183
Courage Bravery Recklessness
201
KINSHIP SEMANTICS
327
Lexical Universals and Psychological Reality
329
Alternate Generations in Australian Aboriginal Languages
355
LANGUAGE AS A MIRROR OF CULTURE AND NATIONAL CHARACTER
371
Australian English
373
The Russian Language
395
Postscript
443
Notes
445

NAMES AND TITLES
223
Personal Names and Expressive Derivation
225
Titles and Other Forms of Address
309

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Page 4 - It was found that the background linguistic system (in other words, the grammar) of each language is not merely a reproducing instrument for voicing ideas but rather is itself the shaper of ideas, the program and guide for the individual's mental activity, for his analysis of impressions, for his synthesis of his mental stock in trade.
Page 4 - It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language, and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is that the "real world" is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group.
Page 37 - O Hamlet, speak no more : Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul ; And there I see such black and grained spots As will not leave their tinct.
Page 4 - We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way — an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language.
Page 4 - Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. . . . The fact of the matter is that the "real world" is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group.
Page 4 - The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds — and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds.
Page 4 - social reality'. Though language is not ordinarily thought of as of essential interest to the students of social science, it powerfully conditions all our thinking about social problems and processes. Human beings do not live in the objective world alone...
Page 19 - A moderate skill in different languages, will easily satisfy one of the truth of this, it being so obvious to observe great store of words in one language, which have not any that answer them in another.

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