Propositional attitudes and cultural scripts

Anna Nikolaevna Gladkova

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In the linguistic literature inspired by the philosophical tradition, the key concepts of analysing ‘propositional attitudes’ are ‘belief’, ‘hope’, ‘doubt’, ‘know’, among others. Yet, this distinction ignores cultural and linguistic variation in the conceptualisation of mental states that can be labelled as ‘propositional attitudes’. Moreover, this approach overlooks the fact that categorisation of mental states in general and ‘propositional attitudes’ in particular is aligned with cultural attitudes and understandings. This chapter proposes a comparative analysis of selected terms of ‘propositional attitudes’ in English and Russian ( to believe vs. sčitat’ and belief vs. mnenie) in terms of universal meanings as they are identified in the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM). The concepts central to the analysis are know and think which have been shown to have exact semantic equivalents in Russian and English as well as other languages. The chapter demonstrates that the analysed concepts differ in meaning and can be related to culture-specific cognitive styles which can be formulated as cultural scripts. The chapter demonstrates that the supremacy of logical concepts does not correlate to the architecture of mental lexicon as it is revealed in universal human concepts. It argues that NSM semantic universals can be regarded as more appropriate elements in the analysis of propositional attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterdisciplinary Studies in Pragmatics, Culture and Society
EditorsAlessandro Capone, Jacob L. Mey
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783319126166
ISBN (Print)9783319126159
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology
ISSN (Print)2214-3807
ISSN (Electronic)2214-3815


  • Cultural scripts
  • Pragmatics and culture
  • Propositional attitudes

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