Anna wierzbicka, words and the world

Anna Gladkova, Tatiana Larina

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This introduction to the Special Issue summarises Anna Wierzbicka's contribution to the linguistic study of meaning. It presents the foundations of the approach known as the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) developed by Wierzbicka. The current state of the approach is discussed in the article with the ideas of 65 semantic primitives, universal grammar and the principle of reductive paraphrase in semantic explications. It traces the origin of Wierzbicka's ideas to Leibniz. The framework has been tested on about thirty languages of diverse origin. The applications of the approach are broad and encompass lexical areas of emotions, social categories, speech act verbs, mental states, artefacts and animals, verbs of motion, kinship terms (among others), as well as grammatical constructions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-520
Number of pages22
JournalRussian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Anna Wierzbicka
  • Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM)
  • Reductive paraphrase
  • Semantic primitives
  • Semantics

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