UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 9 (1997)

The mapping between the mental and the public lexicon


This paper considers the possible relations between mental concepts and public words, and argues that there are many more concepts in our minds than words in the language we speak. These concepts may be both stable and communicable without being encoded in words. The concept communicated by use of a word on a given occasion may go well beyond the concept encoded. We show how these facts provide evidence against a code theory of communication and in favour of an inferential theory (relevance theory) whose implications for lexical semantics and pragmatics are briefly explored.

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