By Anna Wierzbicka

ISBN-10: 0195174755

ISBN-13: 9780195174755

It's greatly approved that English is the 1st actually international language and lingua franca. Its dominance has even resulted in its use and version through neighborhood groups for his or her personal reasons and wishes. One may see English during this context as being easily a impartial, common motor vehicle for the expression of neighborhood ideas and ideas. in reality, English phrases and words have embedded in them a wealth of cultural luggage that's invisible to such a lot local audio system. Anna Wierzbicka, a extraordinary linguist identified for her theories of semantics, has written the 1st booklet that connects the English language with what she phrases "Anglo" culture.

Wierzbicka issues out that language and tradition are usually not simply interconnected, yet inseparable. this is often obvious to non-speakers attempting to study confusing English expressions. She makes use of unique examine to enquire the "universe of meaning" in the English language (both grammar and vocabulary) and locations it in ancient and geographical standpoint. for instance, she seems on the heritage of the phrases "right" and "wrong" and the way with the impact of the Reformation "right" got here to intend "correct." She examines the guidelines of "fairness" and "reasonableness" and exhibits that, faraway from being cultural universals, they're in truth targeted creations of contemporary English. This engrossing and engaging paintings of scholarship may still attraction not just to linguists and others thinking about language and tradition, however the huge staff of students learning English and English as a moment language.

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Example text

Poetry, and not prosaic accuracy, must be the dominant feature of speech. (Rihbany 1920, 77) Explaining, and defending, the value of inaccuracy in Middle Eastern speech (in contrast to prosaic, pedantic, pedestrian and dull accuracy), Rihbany writes: There is much more of intellectual inaccuracy than of moral delinquency in the Easterner’s speech. His misstatements are more often the result of indifference than the deliberate purpose to deceive. . He sees no essential difference between nine o’clock and half after nine, or whether a conversation took place on the housetop or in the house.

The word sadly reflects here, of course, an Anglo perspective: as Rihbany emphasizes again and again, from a Syrian point of view, there is nothing sad or inappropriate about such absence of literal correctness and accuracy—quite the contrary. What exactly does the Anglo ideal of accuracy, as intuited in Rihbany’s bilingual and bicultural experience, really mean? Drawing on Goddard’s (2004a) insights into the semantics of figurative language, I suggest that it means, in essence, a match 28 Meaning, History, and Culture between what a person wants to say with some words, and what these words actually say: ideally, the words as such should bear exactly the meaning that the person wants to convey with these words.

Here, let me try to formulate, on the basis of the discussion so far, the cultural script for ‘accuracy’ and ‘nonexaggeration’. , to say things in this way] The generalization suggested by these prototypes and alluded to in the phrase “speak like this” seems to be that in saying something about anything, it is not good to say “more” than what one really means—that is, than what one really wants to say about it. What is at issue here is the idea of the so-called “literal meaning” of one’s words.

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English: Meaning and Culture by Anna Wierzbicka


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