Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||Language is used to express thoughts and to represent aspects of the world. What thought a sentence expresses depends on what the sentence means, and how it represents the world also depends on what it means. Moreover, it is ultimately arbitrary, a matter of convention, that the words of a language mean what they do. So it might seem that what they mean is a matter of how they are used. However, they need not be used in accordance with their literal meanings. One can speak nonliterally, and convey something other than what the sentence means ('The look on his face spoke volumes'), or speak indirectly, and convey something more than what the sentence means ('I wonder if you know the time'). Linguistic communication requires knowledge of linguistic meaning, on the part of both the speaker and his audience, but it requires extralinguistic knowledge as well.|
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