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Polysemous Words: Meaning and Pragmatics

Event information

START DATE 9 February 2017
START TIME 03:00pm

C127, College Building, Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

END DATE 9 February 2017
END TIME 04:00pm

Robyn Carston from UCL discusses how multiple senses for a word arise in communication

Most words are ‘polysemous’, that is, they can be used to express a range of semantically-related senses. E.g., the word ‘mouth’ can refer to just the outside part (Wipe your mouth), just the inside (Her mouth was dry from nervousness), to the entrance of a cave, to the part of a river that enters into an ocean; to a whole person (I have four mouths to feed), to someone who talks too much (big mouth), among numerous others.

In this talk, Professor Robyn Carston will discuss how multiple senses for a word arise in communication (via pragmatic processes) and what, if any, the core meaning is from which the other senses are derived.

This event is hosted by Middlesex University's Language and Communication research cluster. The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests.


Robyn Carston is Professor of Linguistics at University College London and Senior Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature, Oslo.

Her work on language and communication is strongly interdisciplinary, integrating ideas from linguistics, philosophy of language and cognitive science. Her research areas include the semantics/pragmatics distinction, explicit and implicit communication, relevance theory, non-literal uses of language, and the nature of word meaning.

Her publications include the widely cited monograph Thoughts and Utterances (2002, Blackwell); she is currently working on a collection of papers, Pragmatics and Semantic Content, to be published by Oxford University Press.

For more information or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

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