Synthese 195 (2):549-569 (2018)

Authors
Peter Gärdenfors
Lund University
Abstract
The meanings of words are not permanent but change over time. Some changes of meaning are quick, such as when a pronoun changes its reference; some are slower, as when two speakers find out that they are using the same word in different senses; and some are very slow, such as when the meaning of a word changes over historical time. A theory of semantics should account for these different time scales. In order to describe these different types of meaning changes, I present an analysis of three levels of communication: instruction, coordination of common ground and coordination of meaning. My first aim is to show that these levels must be considered when discussing lexical semantics. A second aim is to use the levels to identify the communicative roles of some of the main word classes, in particular nouns, adjectives, verbs, indexicals and quantifiers. I argue that the existence of word classes can, to a large extent, be explained by the communicative needs that arise on the different levels.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0493-3
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References found in this work BETA

Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Kellogg Lewis - 1969 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
General Semantics.David K. Lewis - 1970 - Synthese 22 (1-2):18--67.

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