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Semantics, Culture, and Cognition

Universal Human Concepts in Culture-Specific Configurations

Semantics, Culture, and Cognition by Anna Wierzbicka
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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.
Oxford University Press; October 1992
496 pages; ISBN 9780195360912
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Title: Semantics, Culture, and Cognition
Author: Anna Wierzbicka
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