Volume 11, Issue 1, 2011
Meaning, Concepts, and the Lexicon
This paper explores how words relate to concepts. It argues that in many cases, words get their meanings in part by associating with concepts, but only in conjunction with substantial input from language. Language packages concepts in grammatically determined ways. This structures the meanings of words, and determines which sorts of concepts map to words. The results are linguistically modulated meanings, and the extralinguistic concepts associated with words are often not what intuitively would be expected. The paper concludes by discussing implications of this thesis for the relation of word to sentence meaning, and for issues of linguistic determinism.