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English Meaning and Culture

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ISBN-10: 0195174755

ISBN-13: 9780195174755

Edition: 2006 (Annotated)

Authors: Anna Wierzbicka

List price: $41.95
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Description:

It is widely accepted that English is the first truly global language and lingua franca. Its dominance has even led to its use and adaptation by local communities for their own purposes and needs. One might see English in this context as being simply a neutral, universal vehicle for the expression of local thoughts and ideas. In fact, English words and phrases have embedded in them a wealth of cultural baggage that is invisible to most native speakers. Anna Wierzbicka, a distinguished linguist known for her theories of semantics, has written the first book that connects the English language with what she terms "Anglo" culture. Wierzbicka points out that language and culture are not just interconnected, but inseparable. This is evident to non-speakers trying to learn puzzling English expressions. She uses original research to investigate the "universe of meaning" within the English language (both grammar and vocabulary) and places it in historical and geographical perspective. For example, she looks at the history of the terms "right" and "wrong" and how with the influence of the Reformation "right" came to mean "correct." She examines the ideas of "fairness" and "reasonableness" and shows that, far from being cultural universals, they are in fact unique creations of modern English. She does the same to other English words and phrases, as well as dissecting the way English countries like Singapore and Tasmania have embedded their own values into their adapted versions. This engrossing and fascinating work of scholarship should appeal not only to linguists and others concerned with language and culture, but the large group of scholars studying English and English as a second language.
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Book details

List price: $41.95
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 4/27/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 368
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.144
Language: English

Meaning, History and Culture
English as a Cultural Universe
English-the most widely used language in the world
English and Englishes
An illustration: Words, scripts, and human lives
"Anglo English" as a historical formation
The tendency to mistake "Anglo English" for the human norm
The cultural underpinnings of (Anglo) English
A framework for studying and describing meaning
Anglo Cultural Scripts Seen through Middle Eastern Eyes
Linguistics and intercultural cCommunication
The theory of cultural scripts
The Anglo ideal of "accuracy" and the practice of "understatement"
"To the best of my knowledge..."
Anglo respect for "facts"
"Cool reason": to think vs. to feel
To compel or not to compel? The value of autonomy
Conclusion
English Words: From Philosophy to Everyday Discourse
The Story of Right and Wrong and Its Cultural Implications
Introduction
"Right" and "wrong": A basis for ethics?
The link between "right" and "reason"
"That's right"
An illustration: English vs. Italian
"Right" as a neutral ground between "good" and "true"
Procedural morality
"Right" and "wrong": Increasingly asymmetrical
The changing frequencies of true, truth, right, and wrong
"Right" as a response in dialogue
"Right" and cultural scripts
Retrospect and conclusion: The Puritans, the Enlightenment, the growth of democracy
Being Reasonable: A Key Anglo Value and Its Cultural Roots
Introduction
The pre-Enlightenment uses of "reasonable"
The main themes in the modern meanings of the word reasonable
"A reasonable man"
"It is reasonable to" think (say, do) ...
"Reasonable doubt"
"Reasonable force" and "reasonable care"
"A reasonable time," "A reasonable amount"
"Reasonable" as "reasonably good"
"Reasonable" and "unreasonable"
An internal reconstruction of the semantic history of "reasonable"
"Reasonable" and Anglo cultural scripts
Is the Anglo value of "reasonable" unique? English vs. French
Being Fair: Another Key Anglo Value and Its Cultural Underpinnings
The importance of "fairness" in modern Anglo culture
The meaning of fair and not fair
"Fairness" and Anglo political philosophy
"Fairness" vs. "justice"
The illusion of universality
"Fairness" and "fair play": A historical perspective
"Fairness" and "procedural morality"
Anglo Culture Reflected in English Grammar
The English Causatives: Causation and Interpersonal Relations
The cultural elaboration of causation
The English "let"-constructions and the cultural ideal of "noninterference"
I Think: The Rise of Epistemic Phrases in Modern English
Introduction
I think
I suppose
I guess
I gather
I presume
I believe
I find
I expect
I take It
I understand
I imagine
I bet
I suspect
I assume
Conclusion
Probably: English Epistemic Adverbs and Their Cultural Significance
Introduction
Developing a format for the semantic analysis of epistemic adverbs
"Probably" and "likely": The heart of the category of epistemic adverbs
"Confident" adverbs: Evidently, clearly, obviously
"Nonconfident" adverbs: Possibly and conceivably
Hearsay adverbs: Apparently, supposedly, allegedly, and reportedly
The "uncertain" status of certainly
Epistemic adverbs vs. discourse particles
The history of epistemic adverbs in modern english
Conclusion
The "Cultural Baggage" of English and Its Significance in the World at Large
The legacy of history
Living with concepts
Two illustrations: International law and international aviation
Communication and "vibes"
Intercultural communication and cross-cultural education
English in the world today
Notes
References
Index