Meaning, Life and Culture

Meaning, Life and Culture

In conversation with Anna Wierzbicka

Edited by: Helen Bromhead orcid, Zhengdao Ye orcid

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This book is dedicated to Anna Wierzbicka, one of the most influential and innovative linguists of her generation. Her work spans a number of disciplines, including anthropology, cultural psychology, cognitive science, philosophy and religious studies, as well as her home base of linguistics. She is best known for the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach to meaning—a versatile tool for exploring ‘big questions’ concerning the diversity and universals of people’s experience in the world.

In this volume, Anna Wierzbicka’s former students, old and current colleagues, ‘kindred spirits’ and ‘sparring partners’ engage with her ideas and diverse body of work. These authors cover topics from the grammar of action verbs to cross-cultural pragmatics, and over 30 languages from around the world are represented.

The chapters in Part 1 focus on the NSM approach and cover four themes: lexico-grammatical semantics, cultural keywords, semantics of nouns, and emotion. In Part 2, the contributors connect with a meaning-based approach from their own intellectual perspectives, including syntax, anthropology, cognitive linguistics and sociolinguistics.

The deep humanistic perspective, wide-ranging themes and interdisciplinary nature of Wierzbicka’s research are reflected in the contributions. The common thread running through all chapters is the primacy of meaning to the understanding of language and culture.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Dec 2020
ANU Press
Arts & Humanities: Linguistics

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Meaning, Life and Culture »

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Part I: Meaning, life and culture: The Natural Semantic Metalanguage approach

  1. Prototypes, polysemy and constructional semantics: The lexicogrammar of the English verb climb (PDF, 0.3MB)Cliff Goddard doi
  2. The comparative semantics of verbs of ‘opening’: West Africa vs Oceania (PDF, 0.4MB)Felix K. Ameka and Deborah Hill doi
  3. Gezellig: A Dutch cultural keyword unpacked (PDF, 0.4MB)Bert Peeters doi
  4. Royal semantics: Linguacultural reflections on the Danish address pronoun De (PDF, 0.2MB)Carsten Levisen doi
  5. The Singlish interjection bojio (PDF, 0.3MB)Jock Onn Wong doi
  6. The semantics of bushfire in Australian English (PDF, 0.3MB)Helen Bromhead doi
  7. The semantics of migrant in Australian English (PDF, 0.3MB)Zhengdao Ye doi
  8. The semantics of verbs of visual aesthetic appreciation in Russian (PDF, 0.3MB)Anna Gladkova doi
  9. Christian values embedded in the Italian language: A semantic analysis of carità (PDF, 0.3MB)Gian Marco Farese doi
  10. The semantics of two loanwords in Navarrese Spanish (PDF, 0.3MB)Mónica Aznárez-Mauleón doi
  11. TIME in Portuguese saudade and other words of longing (PDF, 0.3MB)Zuzanna Bułat Silva doi
  12. Lost in translation: A semantic analysis of no da in Japanese (PDF, 0.3MB)Yuko Asano-Cavanagh doi

Part II: Meaning, life and culture: Perspectives

  1. Locating ‘mind’ (and ‘soul’) cross-culturally (PDF, 0.3MB)Frances Morphy and Howard Morphy doi
  2. Teknocentric kin terms in Australian languages (PDF, 0.3MB)Harold Koch doi
  3. Showing and not telling in a sign language (PDF, 0.2MB)John Haiman doi
  4. Games that people play: Capitalism as a game (PDF, 0.2MB)Annabelle Mooney doi
  5. Our ordinary lives: Pathways to a more human-oriented linguistics (PDF, 0.2MB)John Newman doi
  6. On defining parts of speech with Generative Grammar and NSM (PDF, 0.3MB)Avery D. Andrews doi
  7. CUT-verbs of the Oceanic language Teop: A critical study of collecting and analysing data in a language documentation project (PDF, 1.9MB)Ulrike Mosel doi
  8. The depiction of sensing events in English and Kalam (PDF, 0.3MB)Andrew Pawley doi
  9. Russian language-specific words in the light of parallel corpora (PDF, 0.3MB)Alexei Shmelev doi
  10. ‘Sense of privacy’ and ‘sense of elbow’: English vs Russian values and communicative styles (PDF, 0.3MB)Tatiana Larina doi
  11. On the semantics of cup (PDF, 0.3MB)Keith Allan doi
  12. Where we PART from NSM: Understanding Warlpiri yangka and the Warlpiri expression of part-hood (PDF, 0.4MB)David Nash and David P. Wilkins doi


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