[SydPhil] Reminder: History and Philosophy of Linguistics Reading Group

James james.mcelvenny at gmail.com
Fri Aug 15 17:11:17 AEST 2014

Reminder: History and Philosophy of Linguistics Reading Group

Next meeting:

Tuesday, 19 August, 5.00-6.30pm, Woolley S361


Rastier, François. Forthcoming. Interpretative Semantics. Routledge Handbook of Semantics.


Saussurean linguistics initiated a tradition of semantic investigation characterized by a non-referentialist and non-compositional conception of language (Hjelmslev) and a systematic description of contexts and texts (Greimas, Coseriu, Pottier). This stream of research was unified in Interpretative Semantics, whose programme was formulated in the mid-1980s. In recognizing the deficits of the logico-grammatical paradigm, Interpretative Semantics offers a unified theory extending from the word to the text and then up to the corpus. Since the global determines the local, the corpus being described bears on the meaning of the text, which in turn determines the meaning of its units right down to the morpheme. As in construction grammars, the problem of semiosis (the matching of content and expression) therefore takes on a criterial status.

Applications of interpretative semantics extend from the description of Amerindian languages to computational linguistics. In parallel with the development of the concept of text, interpretative semantics offers a new articulation between text linguistics, document-based philology, and the hermeneutics of finished works.

Since meaning is made from differences, the methodology adopted is historical and comparative, like that of anthropology and most of the social sciences. Recognizing the complexity of languages – defined as cultural formations – interpretative semantics is therefore a stakeholder in cultural semiotics.

Reading available from:

http://hplinguistics.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/83824765/Rastier%20interpretative%20semantics.pdf (English translation)

http://hplinguistics.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/83824768/Rastier%20Sémantique%20interprétative.pdf (French original)

Nick Riemer, the translator, will be present at the meeting, and welcomes any feedback on the translation.

Enquiries: james.mcelvenny at gmail.com

All welcome!
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