Semantics and pragmatics: a historical review to the end of the twentieth century

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Semantics and pragmatics are defined in §1 and their respective histories examined in subsequent sections. §2 explains and gives the history of lexical semantics: the rise of componential analysis, fields and differential values, semantic primes and Natural Semantic Metalanguage, prototype and stereotype semantics. §3 examines the syntax-semantics interface: Katz’s semantic theory, identifying selectional restrictions, generative semantics, conceptual semantics, the issue of thematic roles, semantics and pragmatics in a functional grammar, semantic frames and meaning in construction grammar. §4 explicates and gives the history of logic and linguistic meaning: arguing for the importance of truth conditions, the characteristics of formal semantics, the semantics and pragmatics of anaphora. §5 surveys additional aspects of pragmatics: indexicals, scripts, and conversational implicature. Finally, §6 offers a summary of the foregoing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-116
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • lexical semantics
  • componential analysis
  • prototype semantics
  • stereotype semantics
  • Katz
  • generative semantics
  • conceptual semantics
  • frame semantics
  • truth conditional semantics
  • discourse representation theory
  • anaphora
  • indexicals
  • scripts
  • implicature

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