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Semantics, Culture, and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Culture-Specific Configurations Paperback – October 22, 1992

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ISBN-13: 978-0195073263 ISBN-10: 0195073266 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"Excellent cross-linguistic, cross-cultural penetration into how the mind works. Fascinating analysis of language as a mirror into the workings of the human soul."--Richard L. Wright, Howard University

"An excellent reader in semantics."--Harold Battersby, SUNY-Geneseo

"A strong contribution to today's emphasis on multicultural studies. I recommend it strongly to all students of language and culture."--Dr. Gil Clardy, East Texas State Univ.

"Semantics, Culture, and Cognition is a welcome addition to Wierzbicka's inexhaustible semantic explications."--Australian Journal of Linguistics

About the Author

Anna Wierzbicka is at Australian National University.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 22, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195073266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195073263
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,003,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Luis R on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book amazed me.
Some words don't translate well across cultures. Anna Wierzbicka can tell you why. Using a "natural semantic metalanguage" of concepts basic enough to appear in every language, she explains, point by point, what English-speaking people think of when they use the word "soul".
Then she does the same thing with the Russian word "dusha"--which means roughly the same thing--but makes us see how the differences are enough to make the "dusha" a more common concept in Russian than the "soul" is in English.
The rest of the book carries on in this vein. Dissecting various European notions of fate, destiny, honor, and bravery, she makes us see that a lot of what we take for granted as 'basic' ideas really are culturally defined.
The exotic emotional terms she presents force us to to think twice about assuming the universality of the emotions in English words like "anger" and "sadness"--more so since the metalanguage explanations don't give any more firm foundation to our words than to any others'.
I'm very glad I read this book--I think the concepts in it were very useful to me as a hobbyist language maker, and the image of the mind as an "Anglo folk concept" will likely stick with me forever.
The chapter on diminutives and such on proper names failed to grab my interest, so I can't give this book the five stars the rest of it deserves.
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