Language: From Meaning to Text
Language: From Meaning to Text
Edited by David Beck
ISBN: 9781618114563 (hardcover)
Pages: 270 pp.
Publication Date: April 2016
This volume presents a sketch of the Meaning-Text linguistic approach, richly illustrated by examples borrowed mainly, but not exclusively, from English. Chapter 1 expounds the basic idea that underlies this approach—that a natural language must be described as a correspondence between linguistic meanings and linguistic texts—and explains the organization of the book. Chapter 2 introduces the notion of linguistic functional model, the three postulates of the Meaning-Text approach (a language is a particular meaning-text correspondence, a language must be described by a functional model and linguistic utterances must be treated at the level of the sentence and that of the word) and the perspective “from meaning to text” for linguistic descriptions. Chapter 3 contains a characterization of a particular Meaning-Text model: formal linguistic representations on the semantic, the syntactic and the morphological levels and the modules of a linguistic model that link these representations. Chapter 4 covers two central problems of the Meaning-Text approach: semantic decomposition and restricted lexical cooccurrence (≈ lexical functions); particular attention is paid to the correlation between semantic components in the definition of a lexical unit and the values of its lexical functions. Chapter 5 discusses five select issues: 1) the orientation of a linguistic description must be from meaning to text (using as data Spanish semivowels and Russian binominative constructions); 2) a system of notions and terms for linguistics (linguistic sign and the operation of linguistic union; notion of word; case, voice, and ergative construction); 3) formal description of meaning (strict semantic decomposition, standardization of semantemes, the adequacy of decomposition, the maximal block principle); 4) the Explanatory Combinatorial Dictionary (with a sample of complete lexical entries for Russian vocables); 5) dependencies in language, in particular—syntactic dependencies (the criteria for establishing a set of surface-syntactic relations for a language are formulated). Three appendices follow: a phonetic table, an inventory of surface-syntactic relations for English and an overview of all possible combinations of the three types of dependency (semantic, syntactic, and morphological). The book is supplied with a detailed index of notions and terms, which includes a linguistic glossary.
Igor Mel’čuk is the author of 44 books and 270 papers on linguistics, including Dependency Syntax (1988), Cours de morphologie ge’ne’rale (5 volumes; 1992–2000), Aspects of the Theory of Morphology (2006), Introduction a la linguistique (3 volumes, coauthored with J. Milic’evic’; 2014), and Semantics (3 volumes; 2012–2104). He is Doctor Honoris Causa of the Besançon University (France), member of the Royal Society of Canada, and corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He is the recipient of two Killam Research Scholarships (1988 and 1989), a John Guggenheim Fellowship (1990), and the Alexander-von-Humboldt Research Award (1991). Mel’čuk was nominated to College de France in 1997 and to Chaire internationale Blaise Pascal (Ecole Normale Supe’rieure, France) in 2002. He is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Montreal.