ERIC Number: ED395508
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996
Cultural Semantics in a Second-Language Text.
Chan, Carol Y. M.
Edinburgh Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, n7 p1-13 1996
This paper presents the theory of prototype semantics as a useful approach to understanding the relationship between language and culture in second-language texts as it relates word-meaning to social and cultural models. Second-language writing in English may use the same linguistic structures as first-language texts, but the significance of individual words often depends greatly on the underlying cultural understanding of cultural frameworks. An example of a second-language text, written by a Chinese-American female, is analyzed to demonstrate how prototypical meanings can be evoked and how they contribute to narrative significance. The analysis of this Chinese, second-language text reveals that a prototypical meaning based on a specific cultural model can serve as the basis for culturally significant meanings in the text; cultural sayings serve as sources of cultural assumptions in the Chinese legend of Fa Mu Lan and the negative stereotyping of Chinese daughters. Semantic prototype theory draws attention to the models underlying the meaning of words to remind that one must look beyond dictionary definitions to see how different cultures apply linguistic labels to descriptions of reality. It also suggests that semantic prototypes are some of the forms that cultural meanings may take. (Contains 20 references.) (NAV)
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: For complete volume, see FL 023 856.