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symposium on gärdenfors’ book: the geometry of meaning
1. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Dunja Jutronić Introduction
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2. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Peter Gärdenfors A Semantic Theory of Word Classes
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Within linguistics a word class is defined in grammatical terms as a set of words that exhibit the same syntactic properties. In this paper the aim is to argue that the meanings of different word classes can be given a cognitive grounding. It is shown that with the aid of conceptual spaces, a geometric analysis can be provided for the major word classes. A universal single-domain thesis is proposed, saying that words in all content word classes, except for nouns, refer to a single domain.
3. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Nenad Miščević The Geometry of Offense – Pejoratives and Conceptual Spaces
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The meaning of pejoratives can be analyzed along several dimensions in the relevant conceptual space, of the kind put forward by Gärdenfors in his groundbreaking work. The first dimension has to do with neutral, non-evaluative sense: for a given class (group, social kind) K it delineates the basic causal-cum-descriptive components that determine the intended reference of the pejorative (say, the social kind “gays” for “faggot”). The second comprises the evaluative components ascribed to K, together with their associated descriptive bases. The third is a prescriptive one, suggesting how badly the target is to be treated. The fourth is expressive of speaker’s negative attitude towards members of K. The last three dimensions suggest that the concept associated with a pejorative is a thick concept, whose non-empty extension, is, however, determined by the first, neutral dimension. It also helps understand the dynamics of pejoratives, including the figurative origin and change of valence. The whole account treats pejoratives as negative social kind terms with a hybrid bases for reference (causal history plus a neutral description). The last section raises the general issue of realism in regard to conceptual spaces, and argues in favor of it, in a dialogue with Gärdenfors.
4. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Dunja Jutronić Are Meanings in the Head? The Explanation of Lexical Attrition
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The main question I consider in this paper is: What is the (explanatory) place of the social in cognitive linguistics? More specifically I am mainly occupied with the relationship of mind-internal (individual) and mind-external (social) in cognitive linguistics, particularly in lexical semantics that Gärdenfors talks about in the second part of his book The Geometry of Meaning.I argue in this paper that the idea of meaning being basically in the head/mind is fine but not really controversial. What is controversial is whether the mental states that are responsible for meaning are at least partly constituted by their relations to the external (social) world. If communicative acts “as part of the process of building meanings” in any way constitute meanings, then meanings in the head by themselves cannot play the explanatory role it is given to them by cognitivists.I try to prove my point on the example of sociolinguistic analysis of lexical loss in Split dialect arguing that the mechanism of lexical attrition is nicely explained by Gärdenfors’ idea of semantic transformations in the conceptual space but the final explanation of the lexical loss is mind-external and social. It is not only the communicative acts, as a result of the context of use, but more broadly different social factors that are most crucial for the explanation of lexical loss.
5. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Maja Brala-Vukanović Articles as a Lexical Pointing System. Is Unique Identifi ability a Linguistic and Cognitive Universal?
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Departing from the observation that traditional philosophical, lexical and foreign language approaches to the article system seem to fail in providing a satisfactory outline of article meaning, this paper aims at proposing an alternative, cognitively based account of the semantics of articles. The proposal is to view these closed-class elements as markers of communicative intention; while being more ‘elliptic’ than open-class lexical items, articles appear to be also more cognitively constrained in the meaning that they lexicalize. In other words, articles are likely to express content that is more ‘cognitively real’, and shared by subfields of human cognition other than language. The system of articles (in various languages) is perhaps best understood not as a peculiar phenomenonthat exhausts itself in the description of a list of usage rules, as is currently the trend, but rather as a range of possible codings of the status of nominal reference, whereby different languages choose to express different coding patterns, which can all, crucially, be reconciled with the semantic but also cognitive primitive of ‘pointing’ (as explored by Gärdenfors, 2014: ch. 4). In final analysis it is suggested that pointing on the one hand, and referential (unique) identification on the other, are one and the same communicative universal, with only one distinction: the former is essentially physical and the latter primarily linguistic (lexical), but the two actually overlap. Accessing this (overlapping) conceptual content of the formal linguistic element known as ‘article’ means accessing article meaning, and understanding this link provides new hopes for theoretical and methodological representation of article systems (crosslinguistically).
6. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Anita Memišević What’s in a Path? On Path Verbs: From Thought to Language
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The main requirement for Gärdenfors’s “meeting of the minds” is that speakers’ mental spaces are sufficiently similar. If this requirement is not met, communication cannot take place. This meeting of the minds is not always easy to achieve even among interlocutors who share a mother tongue, and it becomes even more complicated when an interlocutor is speaking in his/her second language. The reason for this is that the “geometries of meaning” of different languages frequently do not match. In this paper the focus is on what happens when two languages, i.e. Croatian and English, conceptualize space in different ways, that is, when they have different geometries of space. We first look at the findings of neuroscience, psycholinguistics and cognitive linguistics. Next, we compare Croatian and English and analyze what consequences these differences in the conceptualization of space have for Croatians as L2 speakers of English when it comes to English path verbs. Finally, we look at what crosslinguistic differences between Croatian and English can reveal about the English path verbs.
7. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Peter Gärdenfors Comments: The Role of Attention in Lexical Semantics
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This article contains comments on the other papers in this volume. I take up the roles of the world, the mind and the society in my semantic theory. I show how semantic differences between languages can be seen as attending to different parts of event structures. The role of the emotion domain in relation to the meaning of pejoratives is discussed. Finally, the idea that articles in language should be seen as an extension of pointing is shown to be congenial with my theory of semantics based on conceptual spaces.
book reviews
8. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Iris Vidmar An Introduction to Metaphilosophy by Søren Overgaard, Paul Gilbert, Stephen Burwood
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9. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Dunja Jutronić Lexical Variation and Attrition in the Scottish Fishing Communities by Robert McColl Millar, William Barras and Lisa Bonnici
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10. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Tereza Karabatić Gossip and the Everyday Production of Politics by Niko Besnier
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