By Sari Pietikäinen, Alexandra Jaffe, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Nik Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users"
AUTHOR: Cruse, Alan TITLE: A Glossary of Semantics and Pragmatics PUBLISHER: Edinburgh University Press YEAR: 2006
Klaus P. Schneider, Department of English, American and Celtic Studies, University of Bonn
Alan Cruse's ''A Glossary of Semantics and Pragmatics'' is a recent addition to a series of terminological dictionaries, which currently comprises approximately a dozen titles. Among these are glossaries of sociolinguistics (Trudgill 2003), morphology (Bauer 2004), applied linguistics (Davies 2005) and cognitive linguistics (Evans 2007). Cruse's book is the only glossary in this series which covers more than one linguistic discipline, viz. semantics and pragmatics.
The ''Glossary of Semantics and Pragmatics'' consists of four parts, an introduction, an alphabetically organized list of terms and definitions, and finally two bibliographical sections.
The five-page introduction provides information about the intended readership, the focus of the glossary and its theoretical orientation. Some practical issues, such as the typographical conventions adopted, are also addressed. The book is aimed at novices in linguistics and, more particularly, at novices in semantics and pragmatics, i.e. ''typically first-year undergraduates'' (p. 1). The reader is told that the glossary covers not only semantics and pragmatics, but also semiotics, as these three disciplines examine (different aspects of) meaning in language. Each of these disciplines is then characterized briefly. The author also claims that an attempt has been made to avoid any theoretical bias and to include all major approaches.
The glossary proper is close to 200 pages long and includes almost 500 entries. Of these, two thirds are full entries, while the remaining third consists of cross-references referring the reader to full entries. Further cross-references are included in the definitions given. The terms covered range from ''absolute adjectives'' under ''A'' to ''zeugma'' under ''Z''. Full entries provide straight-forward explanations of the terms. They do not, however, contain etymological or bibliographical information as is sometimes found in larger terminological dictionaries aimed at a broader and more advanced readership (cf. Bussmann 1996, containing over 2,000 entries).
The terminology defined in the glossary under review includes traditional as well as contemporary terms. Some of the terms are basic and general, others are more specific, and yet others are particular to individual approaches. Examples of the most basic terms are ''word'', ''idiom'' and ''pun''. More technical general terms include ''morpheme'', ''lexeme'' and ''quantifier''. Specific terminology ranges from ''hedge'', ''implicatures'' and ''protasis'' to ''paucal'', ''listeme'' and '''de re' vs. 'de dicto' interpretations''. Finally, terms pertaining to individual approaches are, for instance, ''Sympathy Maxim'' (Leech 1983), ''qualia roles'' (Pustejovsky 1995), and ''Natural Semantic Metalanguage'' (Wierzbicka 1996). Personal names do not appear as separate entries.
The vast majority of all terms in the glossary belong to the domain of semantics. Needless to say, there are many borderline cases at the semantics-pragmatics interface. Yet, counting only clear cases (such as ''adjacency pair'', ''indirect speech act'', and ''performative verb''), only about 15 percent of all full entries and about 10 percent of all cross-references belong to the domain of pragmatics.
The length of the definitions varies considerably. A minority consist of only two or three lines, e.g., ''focal region'', ''ostensive definition'' and ''phenomenal features'' (which do not even include cross-references). Other definitions extend over one or two pages, e.g., ''qualia roles'', ''structural semantics'', and ''generalised vs. particularised conversational implicatures'' (in addition to a 1.5-page entry on ''conversational implicatures''). The reader is told in the introduction that the ''amount of space given to an entry is not necessarily proportional to its importance'' (p. 4), as some concepts require more elaborate explanations and more exemplification than others, irrespective of their status.
Overall, the definitions are written in an easily comprehensible manner. Comprehension is further enhanced by the ample use of examples. Many, if not most, entries include words, sentences or brief dialogues serving to illustrate the concept defined. Where applicable, lists, tables and diagrams are employed to help the reader.
The first of the two bibliographical sections (''Bibliography'') is a one-page list of those references cited by author's name in the glossary definitions. This list comprises 14 books by such authors as Saussure and Chomsky, Jackendoff and Pustejovsky, Austin and Wittgenstein. The second bibliographical section (''Recommended reading'') is a three-page annotated bibliography, which is divided into two parts. The first part includes ''General works on semantics and/or pragmatics'', the second part ''Books on more specialised topics (some necessarily more advanced)''. In the first part, a distinction is made between introductory textbooks and more advanced textbooks. In the second part, the books on specialized topics appear under six headings, five of which relate to semantics. These range from ''Lexical semantics'' through ''Formal semantics'' to ''Componential approaches to semantics''. The sixth heading is ''Pragmatics''. Each of these six subdivisions includes between one and five titles, with brief annotations.
There can be no doubt that Cruse's glossary covers key areas of terminology and includes the most central concepts. Yet, this does not fully apply to pragmatics, as the glossary is heavily biased towards semantics. That semantics is considered a given, i.e. the ''unmarked case'', whereas pragmatics is the ''marked case'', is borne out by the fact that there is an entry explaining the meaning of the term ''pragmatics'', while no entry exists for ''semantics''. (There is also an entry for ''semiotics'', but semiotics does not play an important role in the glossary.) This bias towards semantics is probably not due to the fact that the author of this glossary is better known for his work in semantics (cf. Cruse 1986, cf. also the publisher's advertisement of the glossary on LINGUIST List: ''Written by an author well-known in the field of semantics, ...''). Rather, the explanation seems to be that in the United Kingdom and elsewhere pragmatics is currently taught at undergraduate level as an appendix to semantics, a fact which is reflected in such textbooks as Griffiths (2006), in which only one chapter (of nine) is explicitly devoted to pragmatics. In this context, pragmatics is largely reduced to such topics as speech acts and implicatures (cf. also Cruse 2004).
Why terms are included in the glossary is sometimes not clear, considering, in particular, that the target readership is first-year undergraduates. Do students beginning in linguistics have to know such terms as ''listeme'', ''protasis'' and ''dot-objects'', all of which have full entries? Are they likely to encounter these terms when they are not listed in, e.g., Lyons (1995) or Saeed (2003), let alone in Griffiths (2006)? Indeed, they are not even included in Cruse (2004).
On the other hand, a range of concepts which would be expected to be included in a glossary for undergraduates are not listed. This applies to pragmatic terminology in particular. Obvious examples include ''illocution'' and ''perlocution'', ''directives'' and ''commissives'', ''emotive function'' and ''phatic function'', ''face'' and ''face-threatening act''. Since courses and textbooks on semantics AND pragmatics are mainly focused on speech acts in the area of pragmatics, it is surprising that the most basic speech act-theoretic terms (i.e. ''locutionary act'', ''illocutionary act'', ''perlocutionary act'' and Searle's five illocutionary types) are mentioned exclusively in the entry for ''speech acts'', but not listed separately, not even as cross-references. Students who come across these terms in their reading cannot look them up easily unless they know exactly which entry to consult.
Against this background, it is surprising that Leech's politeness maxims (Leech 1983) are not only mentioned in the entry for ''politeness'', but also listed separately. There are full entries for the ''Approbation and Modesty Maxims'', the ''Tact and Generosity Maxims'', the ''Agreement Maxim'' and the ''Sympathy Maxim'', plus cross-references for the ''Modesty Maxim'' and the ''Generosity Maxim''. This is even more surprising as Brown and Levinson's politeness theory (1987), which has shaped the study of verbal politeness even more profoundly, is not mentioned at all in the glossary, neither in the entry for ''politeness'', nor in the bibliographical sections. (The terms ''negative politeness'' and ''positive politeness'', mentioned in passing in the entry for ''politeness'', are used in Leech's, not in Brown and Levinson's sense.) At least in this case, the aim ''to include all the main theoretical approaches'', set out in the introduction of the glossary (p. 4), has not been achieved.
I do not think that typographical errors should be corrected in a review (unless there are too many of them, which is by no means the case in this glossary). However, it is difficult to actually find Katarzyna (without an ''s'') Jaszczolt's book which is listed in the first part of the ''Recommended reading'' section. The correct title of this book is ''Semantics and Pragmatics: Meaning in Language and Discourse'' (2002).
Overall, despite minor flaws, Cruse's ''Glossary of Semantics and Pragmatics'', is a most welcome work of reference, not only because there are no competing volumes on the market to date, but also because, like its sister volumes from the same series, the glossary is a useful terminological dictionary, especially, but not exclusively, for the intended readership, i.e. undergraduate students beginning in semantics and pragmatics. It includes a large number of general and specific terms from a wide range of approaches. The definitions are written in a clear and accessible manner and include sufficient illustrative material. The size and format of the book also make it an ideal companion for quick concise reference. However, separate glossaries for semantics and pragmatics would have been more desirable.
Bauer, Laurie 2004: A Glossary of Morphology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Bussmann, Hadumod 1996: Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics. (Translated and edited by Gregory Trauth and Kerstin Kazzazi.) London and New York: Routledge.
Brown, Penelope and Levinson, Stephen C. 1987: Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cruse, Alan 1986: Lexical Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cruse, Alan 2004: Meaning in Language: An Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics. (Second edition.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Davies, Alan 2005: A Glossary of Applied Linguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Evans, Vyvyan 2007: A Glossary of Cognitive Linguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Griffiths, Patrick 2006: An Introduction to English Semantics and Pragmatics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Leech, Geoffrey 1983: Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman.
Lyons, John 1995: Linguistic Semantics: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pustejovsky, James 1995: The Generative Lexicon. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Saeed, John 2003: Semantics. (Second edition). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Trudgill, Peter 2003: A Glossary of Sociolinguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Wierzbicka, Anna 1996: Semantics: Primes and Universals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Klaus P. Schneider is Full Professor of Applied English Linguistics in the Department of English, American and Celtic Studies at the University of Bonn, Germany. His research interests include pragmatics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, word-formation and metalexicography. Recent book publications are "Diminutives in English" (2003) and "The Pragmatics of Irish English" (co-edited with Anne Barron, 2005). He is currently working on a collection of papers on "Variational Pragmatics" (also co-edited with Anne Barron, to appear later this year) and also on an "Introduction to English Pragmatics" (to appear in 2008).