chapter  1
ByBetty J. Birner
Pages 14

This chapter considers the large number of things that the word mean can mean. It explores the difference between linguistic and non-linguistic meaning, and at the difference between the literal meanings of words and sentences and how these can be used to 'mean' a much greater range of things. The most linguistic meaning is non-natural in that the words and phrases involved bear no automatic relationship to what they stand for. The one exception is onomatopoeic language, which bears some natural relation to what it represents in that the word 'sounds like' its meaning. The chapter looks at the field of linguistics, the scientific study of human language, and what it can tell the readers about how linguistic form and meaning are related. The primary subfields of linguistics include phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Meaning is a central concern in every one of these fields. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.