On the social life of meaning
At the first meeting of the Journal Club for 2013, we will discuss Sally McConnel-Ginet's 2008 Language paper, based on her presidential address delivered at the 2007 LSA Annual Meeting. The full bibliographic information of the paper, including an abstract, is given below. The paper is available via Mirlyn. If you cannot access the paper in this way, you can contact Robin Queen (rqueen) for a copy.
McConnel-Ginet, Sally. (2008) Words in the world: how and why meanings can matter. Language, 84(3):497-527.
Why do people care about the meaning(s)/significance associated with a word? Does it make sense to advocate or to criticize a certain form-meaning association? This article argues that words do real cognitive and social work as they are deployed in social practice and that it is primarily through words and their histories of use that culture links to language. It is not semantic representations as such that matter but the (mostly extralinguistic) reference and conceptual baggage words acquire in their discursive world travels. Lexical significance shifts and is contested as part of shifting and contested customs, institutions, and ideologies.