FROM IGNORANCE TO RELEVANCE: ON SOME UNSOLVED QUESTIONS OF LEXICAL SEMANTICS
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The ignorance mentioned in the title is a reference to U. Weinreich. Asked to characterize the current situation in structural semantics, he once had the courage to give the title 'The State of our Ignorance' to his lecture on the subject. Today, fifty years later, we can no longer ignore the danger posed by the idea of an unlimited and context-dependent semantic structure of words and by the rejection of the dichotomy between pragmatics and semantics. By uncritically adopting the ever more prevalent categories of cognitive semantics, 'the new paradigm' in linguistics, which promotes the conceptual and subject-oriented nature of meaning, we risk losing sight of 'langue' in semantic studies, which is tantamount to giving up the discipline's identity in favor of epistemology. The final conclusion of the paper, therefore, is that the future of semantics understood as a 'quest for meaning', the future of lexicology and lexicography, depends on the linguists' continuing awareness of the distinctions between language and mind, and consequently, of the distinctions between linguistics and cognitive science.
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