Inferences about word meanings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This chapter describes the aspects of changes in meanings of the words depending upon the context and the implications that they have for the models of language understanding and production. Sense and reference are relatively context bound, whereas denotation and connotation are relatively context free. The standard view is that sentences have a literal compositional meaning independent of world knowledge, context, or speaker's intentions. Sentence meaning is supposed to be the unadorned linguistic interpretation, while utterance meaning includes elaborations based on linguistic context, situational context, and background knowledge. The possible models of word meaning can be conceived as differing on a continuum from maximally inclusive and maximally abstractive to minimally inclusive and abstractive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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