- Bedeutung, Gebrauch und sprachliche Handlung: Ansaetze und Probleme einer handlungstheoretischen Semantik aus linguistischer Sicht By Thomas Gloning (review)
- Linguistic Society of America
- Volume 75, Number 1, March 1999
- p. 203
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BOOK NOTICES 203 Bedeutung, Gebrauch und sprachliche Handlung: Ansaetze und Probleme einer handlungstheoretischen Semantik aus linguistischer Sicht. By Thomas Gloning. (Reihe Germanistische Linguistik , 170.) Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1996. Pp. xii, 401. Gloning's book is a contribution to a theory of illocutionary meaning. The volume consists of three main sections, plus introduction, conclusion, and bibliography . The first major section (14-57) deals with the 'prehistory' of semantic theory. For G, the study of illocutionary meaning only starts with Wittgenstein . In this section, he therefore discusses the semantic theories ofHerman Paul, Karl Abel, Bronislav Malinowski, and J. R. Firth, whose inclusion under the heading 'prehistory' is really only acceptable because of the odd criterion that some of his works were published prior to those of Wittgenstein. The second main section (58-237) investigates the actual 'history' of illocutionary semantics by discussing the relevant aspects of the theories of a number of authors in the field. It is G' s aim to introduce the major players in the field and give an overview of their ideas. The authors he discusses at some length are Wittgenstein, Strawson, Grice, Searle, Alston, Hare, Vanderveken, and a nameless illocutionary semantics 'minted in Munich' (158ff). With this, and particularly the next subsection on the 'Erlangen School' (161ff), the discussion decidedly turns towards the arcane. Further subsections are devoted to theoreticians oflanguage games and practical semantics , to Ernst Leisi's semantic studies, and to lexicography , particularly the Collins Cobuild project. The third main section (238-380) is devoted to 'problems and exemplary analyses' . G wants to offer solutions to moot points in the theory of illocutionary meaning and to answer critics of such a theory. The problems discussed are: What are the basic assumptions of a theory of illocutionary meaning? What are the relations between such a semantics and a truthbased semantics? How are word meanings and sentence meanings related? How can semantic relations be integrated into a theory of illocutionary meaning? How can illocutionary meanings be described without having to relinquish a homogenous description of linguistic units? All the analyses m this section are of invented examples. G has done a fine job in detailing almost every conceivable theoretical aspect of illocutionary meaning . And, although he does not state it as one of his aims, the second main section can also serve as a history of the philosophy of language, particularly for reference purposes to the lesser known scholars in the field. However, G does not look at real data, and he ignores recent contributions to semantics such as those from cognitive linguistics or the study of language and ideology, all of which might have made the book a more inspiring one. As it is, the volume reminded me of a joke told by Michael Agar (Language shock, NY: William Morrow, 1994, p. 114): An American and a German both get a one-year grant to study elephants. When they return, the American hands in a short essay 'How to use an elephant', while the German produces a twelve volume work titled Introduction to elephant science. Unmistakably , G's volume is the German contribution to illocutionary meaning. [Ingrid Piller, University of Hamburg.] Language choices: Conditions, constraints and consequences. Ed. by Martin Pütz. (Impact: Studies in language and society, 1 .) Amsterdam & Philadelphia : John Benjamins, 1997. Pp. xxi, 427. This volume grew out of a 1995 conference on 'Language contact and language conflict' which was held at the University of Duisburg, Germany. It comprises 21 papers in 4 sections, plus an introduction by the editor, a subject index, and a list of contributors . The introduction provides a summary of the subsequent papers, explains the grouping in sections, and states the goal of the volume as an exploration of 'the relations between language conflict situations both from a theoretical and an applied linguistics perspective ' (x). The seven papers in the first section (3-111) on 'Language contact and language choice: Sociolinguistic and linguistic issues' are supposed to give an overview of key concepts in the sociology of language such as language ecology, multilingual processing , triglossia, language shift, and borrowing. A must-read in this section is Florian Coulmas's ? matter of choice' , in which he deconstructs the concepts of...