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date: 22 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces twentieth-century interest within linguistics and other disciplines in the analysis of meaning in texts and contexts. Early approaches equated meaning with lexical meaning, although some differentiated sense and referent (Ogden and Richards) and analyzed the various senses of a word (Wittgenstein, prototype theory). Two groups differentiated themselves from the structuralist mainstream: Prague functional-structuralism (Mathesius, Jakobson, Troubetzkoy) and the London School (Firth) and Systemic Functional Linguistics (Halliday). This set the stage for the analysis of linguistic use and the development of the multidisciplinary area called discourse analysis. While there were earlier approaches in rhetoric and oratory, work on spoken language came from linguistics (information flow, deixis, spoken vs. written language), sociology (conversational analysis, variation studies, oral narrative, interactional sociolinguistics, Goffman), anthropology (ethnography of communication, focus on performance, language in verbal art and performance), and philosophy (pragmatics). For the written language, there was early interest in stylistics, and within linguistics work on text linguistics and critical discourse analysis, in addition to approaches influenced by literary studies (narratology/text semiotics, literary stylistics, genre analysis, and text pragmatics). The conclusion is that the turn to language in use has led to a dialogical, pluralistic, dynamic, and integrative view of how speakers, contexts, and meaning interplay.

Keywords: lexical meaning, structural functionalism, systemic functional linguistics, spoken discourse analysis, rhetoric, stylistics, written-text analysis

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