Chapter

Symbol systems and perceptual representations

Walter Kintsch

in Symbols and Embodiment

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199217274
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191696060 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199217274.003.0008
Symbol systems and perceptual representations

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This chapter provides a proposal for modelling verbal meaning. This proposal has two components — the description of how people induce verbal meaning or the representation of meaning in memory; and modelling how stored meaning is used to construct contextually appropriate meanings of words, sentences, and texts in general. It notes that it is possible that everything that man needs for language is already stored in memory and that meanings simply have to be retrieved from the semantic store ready-made. It presents the alternative that the semantic store only provides the raw material for the construction of meaning, and that meaning emerges when words, sentences, and text are used in context. It discusses the proposition that, although language is not grounded in the sense of a first-order isomorphism, language mirrors perceptual features of the world with a high degree of fidelity.

Keywords: verbal meaning; memory; language; symbol systems; meaning

Chapter.  8301 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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