LINGUIST List 11.855

Wed Apr 12 2000

Disc: Literary Semantics

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Kathleen Therese O'Connor, Re: 11.824

Message 1: Re: 11.824

Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000 19:47:33 -0400 (EDT)
From: Kathleen Therese O'Connor <>
Subject: Re: 11.824

Jose Luis:

Your concern about the use of the term literary semantics as being
problematic can be clarified, I think, by looking at the designation of
metaphor as either defined according to cognitive linguistics or to poetic
figures or highly metaphorical prose. When our everyday metaphors reveal
an aspect of our conceptual framework, like the fact that we think of
communications as a conduit: "I can't get THROUGH to you", we are using
metaphorical language quite differently than if we were to refer to the
evening as "Twilight's pale blue rhapsody". I think that to treat
literary semantics separately is a means that linguists have of applying
semantic theory to what rhetoricians do with stylistics.

I don't know if this addresses your question.

Kathleen O'Connor > 

> Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 12:46:56 +0200
> From: "jose luis guijarro" <>
> Subject: Literay semantics?
> On Th, 06 Apr 2000 at 11:52:02 THE LINGUIST sent us a message in which
> Mouton announced the acquisition of the _Journal of Literary Semantics_.
> The expression "Literary Semantics" makes me wonder. Do people in general
> and linguists in particular still think that there is such a thing as
> semantics of Literature? Maybe it's a question of agreeing on what the
> pointer "semantics" tries to point to
> Therefore, in the first place, I must describe how I use it. Semantics, for
> me, is the scientific study of how linguistic elements have (probably many
> kinds of) meaning. Schematically, these kinds of meaning could well be those
> that Sperber & Wilson (1986/95) _Relevance: Communication and Cognition_,
> Oxford, Basil Blackwell, propose: lexical, logical and encyclopedical. Their
> characterization and the ways they interact is the proper field of Semantics
> (it may even turn out that what is "normally" (?) considered the only type
> of meaning, namely the encylopedical is after all not a question of semantic
> analysis but, as Sperber and Wilson think, of a pragmatic one).
> In any case, I cannot see how the analysis of a language property (or
> relationship, or whatever) can clarify the mental processes involved in
> producing and consuming the anthropological "product" we normally call
> Literature. For me it is as if we tried to explain the artistic importance
> of sculpture by a geological analysis of the material employed. Think of a
> new Journal called "Sculptural Geology". Would that not strike you as
> something very very odd?
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> LINGUIST List: Vol-11-824
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