From the barbed, childish taunt on the school playground, to the eloquent sophistry of a lawyer prising open a legal loophole in a court of law, meaning arises each time we use language to communicate with one another. How we use language - to convey ideas, make requests, ask a favour, and express anger, love or dismay - is of the utmost importance; indeed, linguistic meaning can be a matter of life and death. In The Crucible of Language, Vyvyan Evans explains what we know, and what we do, when we communicate using language; he shows how linguistic meaning arises, where it comes from, and the way language enables us to convey the meanings that can move us to tears, bore us to death, or make us dizzy with delight. Meaning is, he argues, one of the final frontiers in the mapping of the human mind.
Vyvyan Evans is Professor of Linguistics at Bangor University, where he has served as Head of the School of Linguistics and English Language, and Deputy Head of the College of Arts and Humanities.
Part I. The Ineffability of Meaning: 1. Introduction: unweaving a mystery; 2. The alchemist, the crucible, and the ineffability of meaning; Part II. Meaning in Mind: 3. Patterns in language, patterns in the mind; 4. Time is our fruit fly; 5. Concepts body forth; 6. The concept-making engine (or how to build a baby); 7. The act of creation; Part III. Meaning in Language: 8. Webs of words; 9. Meaning in the mix; 10. The cooperative species; 11. The crucible of language; Epilogue: the golden triangle.