On Literacy and the Myth of Literal Meaning

Part of the Springer Series in Language and Communication book series (SSLAN, volume 23)


Issues concerning literalness of meaning range all the way from folk linguistics to axiomatic features of formalized semantic theory. Acceptance of “literal” as a primitive, undefined term in delineation of an autonomous field of “pure” semantics may hence be in part due to the intuitive appeal of pervading pretheoretical notions such as, for instance (Goffman, 1976, p. 303), “... the common sense notion... that the word in isolation will have a general basic, or most down-to-earth meaning...”. Such presuppositions seem to form part of the myth of literal meaning in our highly literate societies.


Literal Meaning Objective World Background Assumption Sentence Meaning Linguistic Meaning 
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