Semantics Volume 1 John Lyons
[appeared in Natural Language Engineering, 1997]
John Lyons. Linguistic Semantics: An Introduction. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. 1995.
ISBN 0 521 43302 9 Price #35.00 (hardback) - ISBN 0 521 43877 2 (paperback). xvii+376 pages.
Sir John Lyons's Linguistic Semantics: An Introduction (LSAI from now on) is a tolerable addition to the list of half a dozen or so impressive titles he has produced on linguistic subjects over the years. This book was initially planned to be a second edition of his Language, Meaning and Context (Lyons 1981). However, in the end it turned out to be a successor and replacement. For it is, in the author's words, a very different book compared to the 1981 volume: it is much longer, treats topics missing in the earlier volume, and is written in a different style. (Unfortunately, I am not familiar with (Lyons 1981) and the reader is asked to take these remarks with a grain of salt.)
By `linguistic semantics' Lyons means the study of meaning systematically encoded in the vocabulary/grammar of natural language. Thus, linguistic semantics is a branch of linguistics; semantic issues which have more to do with philosophy belong, in Lyons's view, to the more proper branch of philosophical semantics. Accordingly and understandably, Lyons devotes limited space to philosophical problems while he cautions that nobody would be able to appreciate modern linguistic semantics without some acquaintance with its philosophical groundwork.
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