Arabic semantics

Authored by: Peter Hallman

The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics

Print publication date:  January  2018
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138783331
eBook ISBN: 9781315147062
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315147062-10

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Abstract

Semantics, the study of meaning, is as multifaceted a discipline as its subject matter itself. Contemporary theoretical linguistic semantics concerns itself primarily with the relatively narrow but consequential goal of identifying the regularities in the relation between form and meaning in human languages. The fact that it is possible for speakers of a language to comprehend sentences they have never heard before means that comprehension is procedural: speakers analyze an unfamiliar sentence into its familiar component parts and then derive the meaning of the whole with reference to the manner in which those parts are combined. They do this by virtue of rules that connect the syntactic juxtaposition of the parts to the way their meanings are integrated in the whole. These rules, and the meanings of the terms they combine, are the subject matter of contemporary linguistic semantics. This chapter discusses some phenomena in Arabic and its varieties that have attracted the attention of semanticists, and makes some suggestions for future directions in this area.

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