chapter  6
The study of meaning
Semantics and pragmatics
ByKristin Denham, Anne Lobeck
Pages 17

This chapter discusses ambiguity, entailment, and quantifier scope to show that the knowledge of meaning goes far beyond understanding the meanings of words. It provides some examples of the kinds of phenomena that linguists study when they study word and sentence meaning, or semantics. The study of meaning in context is called pragmatics. The study of metaphor also delves into the complex interaction between semantics and how we conceptualize the world. G. Lakoff and M. Johnson argue that metaphors are not arbitrary, but rather are connected to how we see the world, to our mental conceptual structures. Contemporary American English metaphors about time, they would argue, reflect our cultural perceptions. Cross-linguistic studies of metaphors and other figurative language are a rich area of study that can lead us to a better understanding of how language does or does not reflect shared conceptual structures.