Understanding Cultures Through Their Key Words: English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese

Paperback | April 30, 1999

byAnna Wierzbicka

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This book develops the dual themes that languages can differ widely in their vocabularies, and are also sensitive indices to the cultures to which they belong. Wierzbicka seeks to demonstrate that every language has "key concepts," expressed in "key words," which reflect the core values of agiven culture. She shows that cultures can be revealingly studied, compared, and explained to outsiders through their key concepts, and that the analytical framework necessary for this purpose is provided by the "natural semantic metalanguage," based on lexical universals, that the author andcolleagues have developed on the basis of wide-ranging cross-linguistic investigations. Appealing to anthropologists, psychologists, and philosophers as well as linguists, this book demonstrates that cultural patterns can be studied in a verifiable, rigorous, and non-speculative way, on the basis ofempirical evidence and in a coherent theoretical framework.

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This book develops the dual themes that languages can differ widely in their vocabularies, and are also sensitive indices to the cultures to which they belong. Wierzbicka seeks to demonstrate that every language has "key concepts," expressed in "key words," which reflect the core values of agiven culture. She shows that cultures can be...

Dr. Anna Wierzbicka is Professor of Linguistics at the Australian National University. She has lectured extensively at universities in Europe, America, and Japan, and is the author of many books, including Semantics: Primes and Universals (OUP, 1996) and Semantics, Culture, and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Human-Specific Con...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 6.3 × 9.21 × 0.91 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195088360

ISBN - 13:9780195088366

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"There is a lot to be gleaned from just about anything produced by Wierzbicka-the "key words book"...is no exception...The observations are plentiful and fascinating...[Wierzbicka] has done more than anyone else to really "understand cultures through their key words."--Word