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Bulletin for Biblical Research 22.

3 (2012) 315-333

Lexical Pragmatics and the Lexicon


GENE L. GREEN
WHEATON COLLEGE

While the number of our lexical resources for exegeting and translating both testaments has grown enormously, our understanding of how words mean remains
lodged in a model of communication that has come under challenge in recent
years. The way we understand the nature of and relationship between lexemes
and concepts will affect how we develop and utilize our lexicons for exegesis.
Traditionally, lexical semantics has oriented both these lexicographic endeavors.
But recent research in the field of lexical pragmatics, currently discussed among
those working on Relevance Theory (RT) and other cognitive approaches to linguistics, gives important new guidance to orient our use of the lexicon and offers valuable insights that can help shape their future design. Lexical pragmatics
points to a new, more context-oriented and dynamic approach to understanding
the relationship between lexemes and concepts, and the nature of concepts as ad
hoc constructions, in the communication of meaning.
Key Words: lexicons, lexical semantics, lexical pragmatics, Relevance Theory,
words and concepts, Semantic Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew, exegesis

L e x ic a l R e s o u r c e s f o r B ib l ic a l S t u d ie s

We love lexicons. W hether we are translators of the Bible or com m entators, biblical studies students or professors, pastors or lay persons, we find
trem endous delight in using and designing lexicons. Words are the building blocks of our interpretive trade, and our lexicons open ancient worlds
by reviving words long silent. Every Hebrew student knows BDB (Brown,
Driver and Briggs),1 and the adept learn their way around Koehler and
Baum gartner's four-volum e Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. 2 Jenni and W estermann's Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament and
David Clines's Dictionary of Classical Hebrew help quench our lexical thirst
w hen we read the Hebrew text.3 The United Bible Societies are producing
1. Francis Brown, The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon: With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1979).
2. Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old
Testament (4 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1994).
3. Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (3 vols.;
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997); David J. A. Clines, ed., The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew

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Bulletin for Biblical Research 22.3

another lexical work, The Semantic Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew , under the
editorial supervision of Reinier de Blois along w ith Enio M ueller (www
.sbdh.org). This new sem antic-dom ain dictionary will stand electronically
alongside Louw and N ida.4 M any w orking in Greek keep BDAG w ithin
arm's reach, while M outon and M illigan and Liddell, Scott, Jones, and
McKenzie are never more than a few steps away.5 We are dism ayed to
hear that the lexical project of G. H. R. Horsley and John Lee, which attem pts to revise M oulton and Milligan, has stalled due to lack of funding.6
O ther major projects appear slowly, fascicle by fascicle, such as the Diecionario Griego-Espaol (DGE) and the Diccionario Griego-Espaol del Nuevo
Testamento (DGENT).7 N um erous lexicons have become available on electronic platform s such as the inclusion of LSJ in the Perseus Project8 and
the TLG 9, and the appearance of BDAG as part of the Logos Bible Software
package.10 Access to our favorite lexicons for Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek
is becoming simplified.
We live in an age w hen we all can become lexicographers w ith the
dem ocratized accessibility of ancient texts on the TLG, PHI7 and other
databases.11 John Lee begins his History of New Testament Lexicography
w ith a note about , which appears 9 times in the NT but 284 times
in the PHI7 corpus and a staggering 8,000 times in the TLG.12 The sheer
(6 vols.; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993-2007).
4. J. P. Louw and Eugene Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on
Semantic Domains (2 vols.; N ew York: United Bible Societies, 1989).
5. Frederick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early
Christian Literature (3rd ed.; Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2000); James Hope Moulton and
George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament: Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Nonliterary Sources (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1930); Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott,
eds., A Greek-English Lexicon with a Revised Supplement 1996 (9th ed.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1996).
6. We are grateful for the publication of nine volumes of foundational work for this
project: New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity (9 vols.; North Ryde: Ancient History
Documentary Research CentreMacquarie University, 1981-).
7. Francisco R. Adrados, Elvira Gangutia, Javier Lpez Facal, Concepcin Serrano, Pedro
Bdenas et al., Diccionario Griego-Espaol (7 vols.; Madrid: CSIC, 1980-2009). See the introduction by Elvira Gangutia Elcegui, "El Diccionario Griego-Espaol," ARBOR: Ciencia, Pensamiento y Cultura 727 (2007) 749-69. Also in production is Juan Mateos, Jess Pelez, and Grupo
Gacso, Diccionario Griego-Espaol del Nuevo Testamento (3 vols.; Crdoba: Ediciones el Almendro,
2000-). These works, along with other publications coming out of Spain and Latin America,
strengthen the case for adding Spanish to the list of essential research languages.
8. At www.perseus.tufts.edu. Unfortunately, the edition offered on Perseus does not inelude the 1996 Supplement. The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) now includes LSJ as well. The
Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge is currently working on an Ancient GreekEnglish Lexicon (on-line: www.classics.cam.ac.uk/faculty/research_groups_and_societies/
greek_lexicon), which will appear in print and also be available through the Perseus Project.
9. Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (Irvine: University of California, Irvine, 2011) and on-line:
www.tlg.uci.edu.
10. Available for purchase at www.logos.com/bdag.
11. PHI7: Packard Humanities Institute: Greek Epigraphy, "Searchable Greek Inscriptions,"
on-line: epigraphy.packhum.org/inscriptions/; also available through the Perseus Project. Another useful search tool for the papyri is Papyri.info, on-line: www.papyri.info.
12. John A. L. Lee, A History of New Testament Lexicography (Studies in Biblical Greek;
New York: Peter Lang, 2003) 4-5.

G reen : Lexical Pragmatics and the Lexicon

317

size of the database, however, presents a methodological problem. Do we


look up all instances of the w ord or just do "spot checks and get an impression as quickly as possible of this word's usage around the tim e of
the New Testam ent"?13 The literary resources are available, though the
time to analyze all the data is precious and short. W here are the
("benefactors")?
While the num ber of our lexical resources for exegeting and translating both testam ents has grow n enormously, our understanding of how
w ords m ean rem ains lodged in a model of communication that has come
under challenge in recent years. The way we understand the nature of
lexemes will affect how we develop and use our lexicons. Traditionally,
lexical semantics has oriented both these lexicographic endeavors. But recent research in the field of lexical pragmatics, currently discussed among
those working on Relevance Theory (RT) and other cognitive approaches
to linguistics, gives significant guidance to orient our use of the lexicon
and offers valuable insights that can help shape their future design. While
lexical semantics has provided the theoretical underpinnings for most all
our lexical w ork up to the present, lexical pragm atics points to a new, more
context-oriented and dynam ic approach to understanding the relationship
betw een lexemes and concepts, and the nature of concepts, in the comm unication of m eaning.14
L e x ic a l S e m a n t ic s , L e x ic a l P r a g m a t ic s ,
a n d the

L e x ic o n

Lexical Semantics and Lexicography


Lexical semantics explores how w ords encode concepts.15 Com menting on
lexical semantics, Michael M cCarthy m uses that "if the w ord is an identifiable unit of a language, then it m ust be possible to isolate a core, stable
m eaning that enables its consistent use by a vast num ber of users in m any
contexts over a long period of tim e."16 We are also told that words have a
w ide range of meaning, as illustrated in every dictionary we open on the
desk or laptop. Discussing semantic theory, Jerrold Katz and Jerry Fodor
state that "a dictionary entry is a characterization of every sense that a
lexical item can bear in any sentence." This, they note, presents a problem
since "a dictionary usually supplies more senses for a lexical item than it
bears in an occurrence in a given sentence."17 So a semantic theory m ust
13. Ibid., 5.
14. For a brief introduction, see Gene L. Green, Lexical Pragmatics and Biblical Interpretation, JETS 50 (2007) 799-812.
15. In contrast, Deirdre Wilson notes that "the goal of lexical pragmatics is to account
for the fact that the concept communicated by use of a word often differs from the concept
encoded" ("Relevance and Lexical Pragmatics," Italian Journal of Linguistics 15 [2003] 273-74).
16. Michael J. McCarthy, "Lexis and Lexicography," in The Linguistics Encyclopedia (ed.
Kirsten Malmkjaer; London: Routledge, 1991) 298.
17. lerrold J. Katz and Jerry A. Fodor, "The Structure of Semantic Theory," Language 39
(1963) 183. Speaking to translators, J. P. Louw ("A Semantic Domain Approach to Lexicography,"

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Bulletin for Biblical Research 22.3

supply rules that will allow a reader or hearer to disam biguate or select
the proper sense of each lexical item in a sentence.18
Katz and Fodor argue for the compositional nature of lexemes. A
word's m eaning is compositional because we m ay break it dow n into its
components via componential analysis.19 So, for example, the components
of the w ord man would be human, adult, and male.20 A bachelor is a human,
who is male, and who has never been married. This type of lexical analysis allows us to distinguish m eanings of w ords and the various senses of
a single word. For example, another kind of bachelor is a human who is
male and a young knight serving under the standard of another knight.21 These
various components also aid in identifying the fields or dom ains to which
the w ord belongs. Words often share common components. We recognize
father, mother, son, sister, and aunt as lexemes that have the common componential elements human and kinship.22 Identifying these components allows
us to construct dictionaries based on semantic domains, such as the one
Louw and Nida produced.
Moving beyond Lexical Semantics:
The Semantic Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew

In the Semantic Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew (SDBH), Reinier de Blois has


taken the discussion a step further beyond lexical semantics. De Blois rem arks that, since the time w hen Louw and N ida relied on componential
analysis,
important new insights have appeared on the linguistic horizon.
Scholars have started to pay more attention to the cognitive reality
behind a language, including the entire communication pattern in
which language plays such a crucial role. New approaches such as
in Lexicography and Translation [ed. J. P. Louw; Cape Town: Bible Society of South Africa, 1985]
168) states, "most words have a range of meanings. . . . Aided by the context, native speakers
usually pick the right meaning without any trouble. The ideas expressed in the larger message
of the literary context usually clarify the intended meaning."
18. Jerrold J. Katz ("On the General Character of Semantic Theory," in Concepts: Core
Readings [ed. Eric Margolis and Stephen Laurence; Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1999] 128) discusses the nature of semantic theory, stating that "It must also
explain the semantic competence underlying the speaker's ability to understand the meaning
of new sentences chosen arbitrarily from the infinite range of sentences. This explanation must
assume that the speaker possesses, as part of his system of internalized rules, semantic rules
that enable him to obtain the meaning of any new sentences as a compositional function of the
meanings of its parts and their syntactic organization." Also see Katz and Fodor "The Structure
of Semantic Theory," 171,183.
19. "Compositionality is the idea that the meanings of complex expressions (or concepts)
are constructed from the meanings of the less-complex expressions (or concepts) that are their
constituents" (Jerry A. Fodor and Ernie Lepore The Compositionality Papers [Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2002] 42). See McCarthy, "Lexis and Lexicography," 298.
20. Ibid., 299; Katz and Fodor, "The Structure of Semantic Theory," 191-92.
21. Ibid., 189-90.
22. McCarthy, "Lexis and Lexicography," 299.

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319

Relevance Theory and Cognitive Linguistics can be of immense help


to us in this process. In our linguistic analyses we should not be merely
aiming towards descriptive systems that work, but for systems that
are intuitively adequate, that represent as much as possible the ways
of thinking of the speaker of the language, and do justice to his/her
organization of experience, his/her system of beliefs, experience, and
practices. We are not supposed to impose a system on the language.
Instead of that we are to try to discover the semantic structure of
the language. For that reason the semantic framework underlying
SDBH will not be based on componential analysis of meaning but on
a number of important insights from Cognitive Linguistics instead.23
De Blois and the team working on the SDBH identify tw o kinds of sem antic domains: lexical and contextual. He explains that Lexical semantic
dom ains correspond to w hat in cognitive linguistics is described as cognitive categories."24 These categories are not universals across cultures and
times. "They depend on the system of experiences, beliefs, and practices of
a particular social or ethnic group. The way a hum an being perceives the
entities in the world around h im /h er plays an im portant role."25 W ith that
input, "H um an beings make a m ental representation, a cognitive reference
point . . . for every category."26 These categories, according to de Blois,
have typical and atypical members. So for the category "bird," we have the
"robin," which is typical, but "ostrich" and "penguin" which are atypical.
The typical and atypical classifications are useful because, as he says:
Categories have attributes that provide information about categories.
At first glance an attribute may seem similar to a component of meaning.
There is an important difference, however. A component of meaning
is a distinctive feature, whereas an attribute is not distinctive in nature.
It is a cognitive feature, representing what a speaker of a language
considers to be relevant information. The category "bird" may have
the following attributes: (1) it has two wings, (2) it has two legs, (3)
it can fly, (4) it has a beak, (5) feathers, and (6) it lays eggs. Typical
members of a category have more attributes in common than less
typical members.27
The categories, then, "are not homogeneous. They have fuzzy boundaries."
Therefore, any particular object or thing "may be a typical m em ber of category A, but a less typical m em ber of category B at the same tim e."28 De
Blois, however, does not provide a methodology to help us recognize w hen
23. Reinier de Blois, "Lexicography and Cognitive Linguistics: Hebrew Metaphors from a
Cognitive Perspective" (paper presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting,
Toronto, 25 November 2002) 1-2.
24. Ibid., 3.
25. Ibid.
26. Ibid.
27. Ibid., 4.
28. Ibid.

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Bulletin for Biblical Research 22.3

we have crossed the line from typical to a .typical members of a category


How m any attributes are enough? And, how do we tell how m any are
.enough? He does not say
On the other hand, the SDBH includes contextual semantic domains. To
explain, de Blois first presents the lexical semantic dom ain rope." A native
speaker "would probably be able to describe w hat, according to his/h er
world view, the prototype of a rope' would look like. That would probably
,not go m uch further than a description of w hat a simple rope looks like
w hat it is m ade of, and m aybe a few examples of w hat it is used for ." 29
-But more is needed. W ithin a cognitive context where we find "rope" in
teracting w ith other objects, the "rope" will change into "an item for sale
on the m arket" or "used by a person climbing dow n a wall" or "used to
hang curtains in a palace hall" or "used to tear dow n a wall during a
siege."30 These are the "contextual semantic domains. And since cognitive
contexts are usually quite complex often more than one semantic dom ain
is needed to describe it adequately."31 Consequently, de Blois notes that
in the SDBH the lexemes have this double classification, being given two
kinds of labels: lexical and contextual "In other words," he says, "every
sub)entry m ay have one or more lexical m eanings and will therefore be (
-assigned to one or more lexical semantic domains. For each lexical m ean
ing, in turn, we m ay find one or more different contexts, each providing
its own relevant inform ation that will need to be covered by one or more
contextual semantic dom ains ."32
The SDBH 33 presents both the lexical and contextual semantic dom ains
for each entry. The contextual sensitivity, complete w ith examples from the
Hebrew Bible, makes the SDBH a very useful and nuanced tool that offers
a distinct methodological im provem ent over Louw and Nida. We discover
that belongs to the lexical semantic domain "Kinship." The lexical meaning
of the subentry in the form of a definition w ould include "(a) direct male
progenitor ; who norm ally provides protection, care, instruction, and
discipline ; ,is usually regarded w ith respect and associated w ith wisdom
security, and comfort father (Gen.2:24; 1:22; 1:23 ...)." But also has
additional lexical semantic domains, such as "deities." In this case, the lexical
-meaning of the subentry in the form of a definition would be "as [a] but ex
-tended to deities: = deity; <compared to a father; giver of life, protec
tion, wisdom, et c.father (Deu.32:6; 2Sa.7:14; lCh.l7:13 ...)." Moreover, de
Blois observes that there are core contextual semantic domains for this lexical
meaning: "Kinship > Care." And these, then, m ay be broken dow n even
:further into addition contextual semantic dom ains
Ibid .29 ., 8 .
.Ibid .30
Ibid .31 ., 9 .
Idem, "TheoreticalFramework," 2009.0n-line:www.sdbh.org/framework/fhomebody .32
..en.htmlSee www.sdbh.org/vocabula/index.html .33 .

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Human > God(God as one's) father (Deu.32:6; 2Sa.7:14; lCh.l7:13 ...)


Human > God; Royalty(God as) father (of a king) (2Sa.7:14; lCh.l7:13;
13:10 ...)
Human > Idolatry (an idol as one's) father (Jer.2:27)
The electronic form at and design of the SBDH makes all these lexical and
contextual entries easily accessible and readily useful, providing us a more
dynam ic and fine-grained approach to recognizing both the lexical and
contextual semantic dom ains of a lexeme. The dictionary also allows the
user to gather together all the w ords that belong to a particular dom ain
and, in the end, provides some w ell-m apped guidance as we move through
the complexities of the Hebrew language's linguistic matrix.
Lexical Pragmatics and Lexicography

The linguistic underpinnings of the SBDH are largely consonant w ith the
recent work on lexical pragmatics under development in RT, which explores
the nature of ad hoc concept formation. Words uttered in a particular context provide access to concept schemas but, in any and every particular
utterance, the concepts themselves shift and m orph to such an extent that
we should regard concepts, along w ith their entities, as ad hoc constructions.34 There m ay be, on the one hand, a narrowing of the concept in use
or, on the other, a broadening of the concept. In the utterance "All doctors
drink," the speaker is using "drink" to lexicalize the concept drink*, which
has to do w ith consum ing alcohol. In this case, "drink" does not m ean
simply "drink liquid," but the concept has been narrow ed to drinking of a
particular kind.35 On the other hand, a concept m ay be broadened, as in the
statem ent "The piece of property was square." In fact, the corner angles
were not precisely but only approxim ately 90 degrees and each side of the
property was nearly, but not exactly, 100 feet. This approxim ation would
be an example of concept broadening.

34. Lawrence W. Barsalou ("Flexibility, Structure, and Linguistic Vagary in Concepts:


Manifestations of a Compositional System of Perceptual Symbols," in Theories of Memory [ed.
Alan E Collins, Susan E. Gathercole, Martin A. Conway, and Peter E. Morris; Hove: Erlbaum,
1993] 48) examines
people's profoundly creative ability for constructing linguistic descriptions that are
relevant in the current context. In our protocol studies of planning, we often found
people constructing amazingly ad hoc descriptions of attributes. Consider the category companions. One attribute of companions that subjects described frequently was
the extent to which a possible companion will want to do the same vacation activities that
I will want to do. After describing this attribute, subjects often evaluated possible
companions with respect to it.... Clearly, such attributes are context-dependent. In
the context of a different event, the attributes described for companion ... might well
be different.
35. Deirdre Wilson, "Relevance and Lexical Pragmatics," UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 16 (2004) 344.

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Bulletin for Biblical Research 22.3

Concepts m ay also go through some form of category extension. An


example would be the use of m etaphors. Sue, for example, is known for
her firm resolve, especially after having examined issues thoroughly. W hen
someone challenges her position, we m ay observe her studied resolve based
on extensive and carefully nuanced research. We then rem ark, "Sue is a
rock." But in a certain instance w hen an opponent m ounts a particularly
devastating, evidenced-based case against Sue's position, Sue m ay not be
able to respond and becomes obstinate. Then the rem ark, "Sue is a rock"
m ay not be about her thoroughness and resolve but about her frustrating
obstinacy. In this case, the concept rock* is constructed on the fly, and the
only way that one m ay understand the utterance "Sue is a rock" is by
knowing the attendant contextual inform ation that is essential for interpretation of the utterance (which m ay include Sue's general approach to
issues, the uniqueness of the challenge presented her, and the revelation
that her resolve can sometimes be based on something other than a thorough examination of the evidence). This particular m etaphorical extension
of "rock" will not be found in any dictionary. Concept extension, however,
is not the unique dom ain of metaphor. The utterance "All doctors drink"
could, in a given context, communicate an extended concept that concerns
doctors' character or their workload or both. Concept narrow ing and extension are not m utually exclusive.
Lexical pragm atics studies "the relation between w ords and the m entally represented concepts they encode."36 Those who embrace lexical
pragm atics have observed that if we are to understand the m eaning of
words, we cannot limit ourselves to examining their "literal" sense because w ords are only a piece of evidence pointing to w hat a speaker or
w riter intends to communicate. The com m unicator is not m erely using
words that encode concepts that the interpreter m ust then decode. Rather,
lexical pragm atics examines the way that "word meanings are modified
in use."37 If lexical semantics occupies itself w ith the way lexemes encode
concepts, then lexical pragm atics explores how the concepts com m unicated w hen using a w ord end up being different from the concept that
has been encoded by the w ord.38 There exists a prodigious gap betw een
the encoded m eaning and the m eaning in use. In com m unicating utteranees, we bridge the gap betw een the m eaning of the lexical item and the
m eaning of the utterance, or the ad hoc concept, by an inferential process
36. Idem, "Pragmatic Theory (PLIN M202)/ lectures (University College London, Department of Phonetics and Linguistics, 2004-5) lecture 9, 5; Enik Nemeth T. and Kroly
Kibok, eds., Pragmatics and the Flexibility of Word Meaning (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2001).
37. Wilson, "Relevance and Lexical Pragmatics," 343.
38. Ibid.; idem, "Pragmatic Theory"; Robyn Carston, Thoughts and Utterances: The Pragmatics of Explicit Communication (Malden: Blackwell, 2002); Robyn Carston, "Metaphor, Ad Hoc
Concepts and Word Meaning-More Questions Than Answers," UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 14 (2002) 83-105; Deirdre Wilson and Dan Sperber, "Truthfulness and Relevance," Mind
and Language 111 (2002) 583-632; Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson, "The Mapping between the
Mental and the Public Lexicon," UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 9 (1997) 1-20.

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323

resulting in concept narrow ing, concept broadening, or category extension.39 This, however, does not move us fully to the heart of the dynamics
of ad hoc concept formation.
Concepts do not go through this sort of modification only occasionally.
Ad hoc concept form ation is characteristic of communication at its core.
Lexical pragm atics seeks to show how ad hoc concepts "are constructed
pragm atically by a hearer in the process of utterance com prehension,"40
and this occurs in all instances. While we m ay speak about schemas that
are the essence of the encyclopedic entries of concepts, these are hardly
stable and static entities which are in tu rn loaded into or encoded into the
sign system. Given the plasticity of the hum an psyche, the m ind has the
ability to "construct and use new concepts at a m om ent's notice."41 O ur
lexical choices in communication only provide pieces of evidence about the
concept that we w ant to communicate to another. Given these dynamics,
pragm atic processes are in full swing w hen we interpret words. Carston
rem arks that, "while sentences encode thought/proposition tem plates,
words encode concept templates; it's linguistic underdeterm inancy all the
way dow n."42 The radical observation Carston makes is that all concepts
are ad hoc, "that is, tem porary constructs arising for specific purposes at
particular tim es."43 This holds for contem porary com munication as well
as biblical literature, which is true hum antohum an, as well as divineto hum an, communication. Ad hoc concept form ation occurs on every
page of the biblical text, and this fact places before us critical challenges
as we attem pt to trace the m eaning of a biblical author's utterances. The
dynam ic and determ inative nature of context on w ord m eaning is significantly greater than we have recognized. Given this, the task lexicographers
face is daunting, if not impossible. No dictionary is capable of embracing
all the possible concepts that a lexeme's tem plate m ay suggest.

39. The approach I am adopting is at variance with the rather robust encoding proposed
by Generative Lexicon Theory. See James Pustejovsky, The Generative Lexicon (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1995); James Pustejovsky and Branimir Boguraev, eds.,
Lexical Semantics: The Problem of Polysemy (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996); James Pustejovsky, "The
Semantics of Lexical Underspecification," Folia Lingistica 32 (1998) 322-63; and the responses
by Anthony Hunter and Lutz Marten, "Context Sensitive Reasoning with Lexical and Word
Knowledge," SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics 9 (1999) 373-86; Jerry A. Fodor and Ernie
Lepore, "The Emptiness of the Lexicon: Critical Reflections on J. Pustejovsky's The Generative
Lexicon," Linguistic Inquiry 2 (1998) 269-88.
40. Carston, Thoughts and Utterances, 322.
41. Wilson, "Pragmatic Theory," 9.8.
42. Carston, Thoughts and Utterances, 360.
43. Ibid., 362,367 n. 1. She asks, "Could it be that the word 'happy' does not encode a concept, but rather 'points' to a conceptual region, or maps to an address (or node, or gateway, or
whatever) in memory?" (ibid., 360). Coming at the issue from the side of cognitive psychology,
Barsalou similarly states that "a perceptual view of concepts explains the daunting problems
surrounding linguistic vagary. . . . linguistic vagary simply reflects the fact that perceptual
symbolsnot linguistic symbolsconstitute the cores of concepts" ("Flexibility, Structure, and
Linguistic Vagary in Concept," 50).

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This understanding of ad hoc concept formation brings us straight to


the question of how w ords mean. Are the m eanings of words som ething
we can neatly classify into a few "lexical semantic dom ains" which we
only need to disam biguate? This is hardly the case, as the SDBH illustrates.
But does the addition of "contextual semantic domains" in the SDBH fully
reflect the cognitive processes in play w hen seeking to com prehend the
m eaning of words? In his study of lexicography, Patrick Hanks makes a
remarkably bold statement:
In everyday use of language, meanings are events, not entities. Do
meanings also exist outside the transactional contexts in which they
are used? It is a convenient shorthand to talk about "the meanings of
words in a dictionary," but strictly speaking these are not meanings
at all. Rather, they are "meaning potentials"potential contributions
to the meanings of texts and conversations in which the words are
used, and activated by the speaker who uses them.44
A lthough Hanks is not w orking w ithin the dom ain of lexical pragm atics, he touches on a key question raised by Relevance Theorists regarding
pervasiveness of ad hoc concept formation.
Word Meaning and Ad Hoc Concept Formation

This approach to understanding m eaning finds support from w ithin the


field of cognitive psychology. James McClelland of Carnegie Mellon University, along w ith others, broke on the scene w ith a new models of hum an
inform ation processing called "parallel distributed processing" (PDP).45
PDP models understand m ental conceptual schemas as very flexible objects. They are structures w ithin our cognitive architecture, but, at the same
time, they are "sufficiently malleable to fit around most everything."46 This
shifts our understanding about the nature of concept schemas. McClelland
and his associates conclude that
there is no representational object which is a schema. Rather, schemata emerge the moment they are needed from the interaction of large
numbers of much simpler elements all working in concert with one
another. Schemata are not explicit entities, but rather are implicit in
our knowledge and are created by the very environment that they are
trying to interpretas it is interpreting them.47

44. Patrick Hanks, "Do Word Meanings Exist?" in Practical Lexicography: A Reader (ed.
Thierry Fontenelle; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) 130.
45. For example, D. E. Rumelhart et al., "Schemata and Sequential Thought Processes
in PDP Models," in Parallel Distributed Processing: Psychological and Biological Models (ed. D. E.
Rumelhart, J. L. McClelland, and the PDP Research Group; vol. 2; Cambridge: Massachusetts
Insistute of Technology Press, 1987) 7-57. For a summary, see Robert J. Sternberg, Cognitive
Psychology (4th ed.; Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth, 2006) 299-306.
46. Rumelhart et al., "Schemata and Sequential Thought Processes in PDP Models," 20.
47. Ibid.; emphasis added.

G reen : Lexical Pragmatics and the Lexicon

325

According to these PDP m odels of cognition, "whenever we use knowledge, we change our representation of it. Thus, knowledge representation
is not really a final product. Rather, it is a process or even a potential
process."48
The PDP m odel of cognition suggests that, at best, our dictionary
definitions can do no more than give w hat Hanks calls "traces of m eaning
events; the dictionary contains lists of m eaning potentials."49 Hanks notes
that while the components of m eaning are simple, how they combine is a
complex problem. PDP m odeling likewise focuses on the "microfeatures"
of schemas such as parties, schools, restaurants, or SBL or IBR m eetings,
which will combine and merge in the m om ent they are accessed.50 They
are the product of a creative process from the time they pull out of our
m ental pit and onto the linguistic racetrack.
Ad Hoc Concept Formation and the Constraints of "Relevance"

Relevance Theory provides a model for understanding the processes that


help constrain this creative process. Linguistic underdeterm inancy does
not im ply that there is no stable m eaning in com munication and that we
end up w ith nothing more than linguistic freeplay.51 There is a gap betw een the m eaning of sentences and the utterance m eaning, that is, the
m eaning a speaker or w riter w ants to communicate. As we bridge the
gap betw een sentence m eaning and utterance m eaning, and also between
concept schemas and the ad hoc concepts that emerge in communication,
the rich inferential processes in play are constrained by the principle of
relevance.52 W hen we communicate, we create in the hearer or reader the
48. Sternberg, Cognitive Psychology, 301. He goes on,
What is stored is not a particular pattern of connections. It is a pattern of potential
excitatory or inhibitory connection strengths. The brain uses this pattern to re-create
other patterns when stimulated to do so. Whenever we receive new information,
the activation from that information either strengthens or weakens the connections between units. The new information may come from environmental stimuli,
from memory, or from cognitive processes. The ability to create new information by
drawing inferences and making generalizations allows for almost infinite versatility
in knowledge representation and manipulation, (pp. 301-02)
49. Hanks, "Do Word Meanings Exist?" 130.
50. Rumelhart et al., "Schemata and Sequential Thought Processes in PDP Models," 8,20.
51. "The fact that any sentence, if thought of as an authorless string of material signifiers,
taken out of contextor rather, transposed into a variety of contextscan have a wide range of
potential meanings, does not entail that language is unstable or that all understanding is necessarily aberrant, because every instance of language use and understanding takes place within a
particular context. We focus our attention on what seems to be the most relevant information,
and construct a context that seems to maximize relevance, which enables us to disregard the
plainly irrelevant linguistic possibilities that, in the abstract, could destabilize any particular
spoken utterance or written sentence" (Ian MacKenzie, Paradigms of Reading: Relevance Theory
and Deconstruction [Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002] 196).
52. See especially Sperber and Wilson, Relevance; and for a summary, see Deirdre Wilson
and Dan Sperber, "Relevance Theory," in The Handbook of Pragmatics (ed. Laurence R. Horn and
Gregory Ward; Oxford: Blackwell, 2004) 607-32.

326

Bulletin for Biblical Research 22.3

expectation of relevance. "Relevance" in RT is not the same as the notion


of "being relevant" in popular usage but has a more technical m eaning.
When a person communicates, the addressee expects that the linguistic
input ostensibly or intentionally com m unicated will be w orth processing
and that some cognitive benefit will be realized w hen we invest a degree of
processing effort. We may look at this as a form of linguistic "cost/benefit"
analysis. Wilson rem arks that communicators assess their addressee(s) and
attem pt to "predict, at least to some extent, w hat stimuli an addressee is
likely to attend to, and w hat contextual assum ptions he is likely to use in
processing it, and w hat conclusions he is likely to draw." This is why, for
example, the com m unication w ith our spouse or close friend is shaped
so differently from com m unication w ith someone we do not know. On
the other side, "The addressee takes the linguistically decoded m eaning: following the p ath of least effort, he enriches it at the explicit level
and complements it at the implicit level until the resulting interpretation
meets his expectations of relevance; at which point he stops." 53 That is the
"Ahha!" moment. In this analysis of benefit obtained for processing effort expended, w hat is "relevant" becomes the inform ation that produces
cognitive effects or benefits by strengthening, m odifying or contradicting existing assum ptions, and this for the lowest processing effort.54 As
secondary readers of the biblical text, we then ask questions about w hat
kind of assum ptions both the author and readers could have supplied. In
these cases, there will be more processing effort expended in the search
for cognitive benefit.55
W hen communicating, a speaker or w riter will use the linguistic sign
system, or the "code," and will assess w hat kind of contextual inform ation
is accessible to the addressee from the person's physical environm ent, the
discourse itself, and the addressee's encyclopedic memory. The addressees
will need to make inferences in order to do reference assignm ent ("She
is late" w here "she" refers to Jane and not Jill), enrichm ent ("You're too
late," that is, to catch the train to London as opposed to being too late to
53. Wilson, "Relevance and Lexical Pragmatics," 16-17.
54. Wilson and Sperber ("Relevance Theory/607 )explain this notion simply:
When is an input relevant? Intuitively, an input (a sight, a sound, an utterance, a
memory) is relevant to an individual when it connects with background information
he has available to yield conclusions that matter to him: say, by answering a question he had in mind, improving his knowledge on a certain topic, settling a doubt,
confirming a suspicion, or correcting a mistaken impression. In relevance-theoretic
terms, an input is relevant to an individual when its processing in a context of available assumptions yields a positive cognitive effect.
55. The purpose of this essay is not to provide a full account of Relevance Theory. For
a summary of the theory in relation to biblical studies, see my "Relevance Theory and Biblical Interpretation," in The Linguist as Pedagogue: Trends in the Teaching and Linguistic Analysis
of the New Testament (ed. Stanley E. Porter and Matthew Brook O'Donnell; N ew Testament
Monographs; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2009) 217-40. Also see the discussion of RT and
theological interpretation in my "Relevance Theory and Theological Interpretation: Thoughts
on Metarepresentation," JTI4 (2010) 75-90.

G reen : Lexical Pragmatics and the Lexicon

327

snatch the last piece of cake), and a certain level of disam biguation ("She
sat by the bank," where "bank" is the edge of a river and not a financial
institution).
But there is considerably more inferential w ork that occurs in comm unication. The concept bank* is also an ad hoc construction. The bank*
m ay be the place where Jane norm ally goes to think about things of great
im portance, such as her relationship w ith Sam. Ad hoc concept form a
tion occurs in the utterance "She sat by the bank" because we m ust not
only disam biguate betw een the river bank or Barclays Bank or a snow
bank but we also realize that Jill's sitting by the bank* m eans she is contem plating som ething of im portance, in this case, her relationship w ith
Sam. The dynam ic processes in play are deep and consistent, to the extent that in any given sentence we m ay only know the ad hoc concept
bank* and never the decomposed concept bank. According to RT, we are
observing som ething called the "explicatures," which consists of the code
and all the inform ation related to it that is pragm atically inferred.56 The
"explicit" inform ation com m unicated is not simply w hat is encoded but
includes ad hoc concepts such as bank*, which are constructed on the fly. In
communication, we constantly make decisions w ith regard to who "she"
is, w hat she is "late" for, which "bank" is contem plated by the speaker/
writer, and w hat the ad hoc concept bank* means. All this inform ation is
inferred on the basis of the available input from the code and the context.
The "relevant" contextual information, which is accessed by an inferential
process, produces the greatest cognitive benefit for the least processing effort invested. Communication is wild and, at the same time, wonderfully
successful given the level of inference that occurs. We m anage to make
ourselves understood, and we m anage to understand others.
According to RT, the "context" is not all the inform ation in the world
that m ight be available to a person. Rather, it is a cognitive notion. "Context" is all the inform ation relevant for the interpretation of an utterance.
Instead of being all the inform ation available from our physical environm ent, the discourse we are in, or our encyclopedic memory, it is instead
a subset of our cognitive environm ent. It is all the inform ation we need
to process an utterance. Therefore, the process of interpretation is vastly
more complex than sim ply examining the possible m eanings of a w ord
and working to disam biguate a term by selecting w hat seems to be the
"best" m eaning in the passage we are exegeting. D uring communication,
new senses are always being constructed in this process of ad hoc concept
56.
The hearer or reader may also recover implicatures that are not tied to the linguistic
code. A speaker may say, "It's three o'clock/ by which she means, "It is too late to catch the
train" in the context of the implicated premise that the train pulls out of the station at 2:45.
Again, the implicated assumptions and conclusions are part of what is communicated, but not
just any assumptions will do. The search for relevance constrains this process. Understanding
an utterance includes the recovery of both the explicatures and the implicatures, a process in
which pragmatic forces are in full play.

328

Bulletin for Biblical Research 22.3

formation. Even though w ords are a public good, we cannot assume that
the concepts they com m unicate are the same for all users and in every
circum stance and, even so, com m unication is successful because of the
constraints imposed by the search for relevance.57 The success of communication is truly a wonder.
Lexical Pragmatics and Using the Lexicon

U nderstanding the dynam ic processes at w ork in ad hoc concept formation will help us and our students to avoid perennial lexicographic missteps such as w hat Barr tagged as "illegitimate totality transfer."58 W hen
biblical authors wrote, ad hoc concept construction occurred at every turn,
som ething at which the SDBH hints w ith the way it has m ade accessible
the "contextual meanings" of the various lexemes. Also, recognizing the
ad hoc concept form ation that occurs in Scripture will steer us far from
etymological or root studies of w ords because we understand that w ords
only provide evidence of concepts that are being modified and constructed
in use. Barr's critiques find strong support from w ithin the field of lexical
pragmatics.
However, texts that teach exegesis commonly refer to the semantic
range of w ords because it is assum ed that biblical authors selected from an
established m enu of concepts. In turn, the interpreter m ust have at hand the
same m enu and identify from it which m eaning the biblical author had in
m ind w hen writing. But w hen interpreting lexemes, w hether in real-tim e
communication or in reading ancient texts, we are engaged in something
more than disambiguation. Moiss Silva advises, for example, that the student should start w ith the lexicon: "Using the standard lexicons, determ ine
the attested semantic range of the term." But then he adds that one m ust
"consider the paradigm atic relations of the term," and so also the syntactic
and contextual relations, doing diachronic study of a term , and focusing
on the intention of the biblical w riter.59 While this list of procedures does
not address the ad hoc nature of concept formation, at least Silva raises
awareness that disam biguating betw een dictionary entries is not the end of
the story. So, too, Darrell Bock advises that " to establish the precise meaning
of a word, one must recognize its possible range of meanings." While he w arns
that a w ord will not have the same m eaning in all contexts, he implies that
the job is m ainly one of disam biguation. Words "have a range of m eanings," he says, "which yields a specific sense in a specific context." But he
recognizes that more is occurring and adds that " Words operate in a context

57. Sperber and Wilson, "The Mapping between the Mental and the Public Lexicon," 18.
58. James Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961)
168.
59. Moiss Silva, Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994) 176-77.

Green : Lexical Pragmatics and the Lexicon

329

and receive meaning from that context."60 But Bock only views this contextual

inform ation as useful for the process of disambiguation. The assum ption on
which this approach rests is that there exists a stable set of concepts that
are encoded and that m ay be neatly categorized. If I tell someone to "open
the bottle," ad hoc concept formation is going on w ith such vigor that the
-lexicon cannot help the hearer understand if I w ant them to uncork, u n
screw, or even knock the neck off the bottle. Carston discusses this example
and points up that "when we try to think about the general concept open
and to have a thought in which such a general concept features opposed
to any of the more specific concepts that we grasp in understanding open
one's m outh ', open the window', 'open a can', 'open a discussion', etc., the
experience is an odd one, as we seem to have no definite thought at all ." 61
For successful communication, the addressee m ust recover the m eaning of
the ad hoc concept open* w ithin the speaker's utterance.62 And the same
holds true for any biblical term , starting w ith and all the way through
.the alphabetical list of lexemes
Lexical Pragmatics and Designing the Lexicon

.W hat this means for lexical design is trickier business than for lexical use
Hanks has placed lexicographers into two camps, the "lum pers" and the
-splitters": "those who preferor rather, who are constrained by m ar "
keting considerationsto lum p uses together in a single sense, and those
-who isolate fine distinctions."63 The SDBH both lum ps and splits, a dis
tinct advantage of the electronic format, and it presents the reader w ith
the opportunity to discover the m eaning of term s in a lim ited num ber of
-contexts.64 The reader can show or hide the various "contextual m ean
.ings" of the w ords and can access the examples from the H ebrew texts
-However, the fact that users m ay show or hide various "contextual m ean
ings" implies that these m eanings are secondary or additional features of
words. If we understand that concepts are always ad hoc constructions, we
m ay well argue that the option to show or hide these contextual m eanings
should be eliminated. We hope that Louw and Nida will undergo revision
following this philosophy and form at and thus become a more useful tool
for NT study. But the revision would also need to consider the influences
of the w ider linguistic environm ent in which the NT was born. There is
-no such thing as "biblical Greek" that is isolated from its cultural and lin
guistic m ilieu in the M editerranean basin. In this regard, BDAG rem ains
-Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning, eds., Interpreting the New Testament Text: Intro .60
duction to the Art and Science of Exegesis (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006( 138.
Carston, Thoughts and Utterances .61, 361.
RT understands that the goal of interpretation is to work out the interpretation to .62
.the best possible explanation
Hanks, "Do Word Meanings Exist .63?" 127.
De Blois, "Lexicography and Cognitive Linguistics;" idem, "Theoretical Framework .64."

330

Bulletin for Biblical Research 22.3

the m ore useful lexical tool given its m ultiple references to both biblical
and extrabiblical literature. But both dictionaries still allow the reader to
access only a very limited am ount of m aterial from the w ider corpus. The
integration of the TLG w ith LSJ is a move in the right direction if, in the
end, the interpreter recognizes the nature of the relationship betw een the
corpus and the lexicon.
Moreover, English, French, and Portuguese translations of the biblical
texts w ould assist users of SDBH who are not fluent in Hebrew. Indeed,
because usage is a prim ary consideration, greater encouragement to read
the lexemes in their m ultiple contexts should be facilitated. We all have
had the experience of reading a dictionary definition of a w ord and still
not fully com prehending its m eaning in a particular text until we have
read the w ord over and again in a variety of texts. In this process, the
m eaning potentials of the w ord become evident and take on some organization in our m ind as loose concept schemas, and we then pull elem ents
from this inform ation that are relevant for the construction of the concept
in a particular sentence under consideration. In other words, the lexicon
should help the reader understand that m eanings are events and not static
entities.65 And to do that, m ultiple examples are necessary and not merely
a series of translation glosses.
H anks moves in this direction as he reflects on the relationship betw een the corpus and the lexicon:
We cannot study word meanings directly through a corpus any more
satisfactorily than we can study them through a dictionary. Both are
tools, which may have a lot to contribute, but they get us only so far.
Corpora consist of texts, which consist of traces of linguistic behaviour. What a corpus gives us is the opportunity to study traces and
patterns of linguistic behaviour. There is no direct route from corpus
to meaning. Corpus linguists sometimes speak as if interpretations
spring fully fledged, untouched by human hand, from the corpus.
They don't. The corpus contains traces of meaning events; the dietionary contains lists of meaning potentials. Mapping the one onto
the other is a complex task, for which adequate tools and procedures
remain to be devised.66
The SDBH comes very close to being a useful tool in this regard given its
attention to the corpus as part of the on-line dictionary. But the problem
of m apping betw een the corpus and the dictionary m ay never be fully
worked out by mechanics. However, this complex process is precisely w hat
the hum an m ind is adept at accomplishing w ith aplomb. Given the right
access to both the corpus and a dictionary's m eaning potentials, it can m anage the task nicely. We do it every tim e we listen and read. We excel at
this by divine design.
65. Hanks, "Do Word Meanings Exist?"130.
66. Ibid.

G reen : Lexical Pragmatics and the Lexicon

331

Moreover, the SDBH classifies lexical and contextual domains. Lexicol domains include objects, events and relationale w hereas the contextual
domains are more fine-grained. We m ay wonder, however, w hether these
classifications are, in the end, all that useful given the dynam ic nature
of concept formation. The presupposition underlying the classification of
words into domains is that the concepts they represent m ay be decomposed
into their various components, which then can be sorted neatly into several
domains. The categories listed, as de Blois notes, "are not homogeneous.
They have fuzzy boundaries. As a result of this, a certain object m ay be a
typical m em ber of category A, but a less typical m em ber of category B at
the same tim e."67 However, w hat is a typical "bird" or a typical "bicycle"?
This "typical" language is at variance w ith the notion that w ords have
"meaning potential" and that in communication ad hoc processes are operating dynamically. A "bird" m ay or m ay not have wings, m ay or m ay
not fly, could be a cartoon character w ith neither apparent legs nor beak,
and surely need not have feathers. Penguins and ostriches are considered
birds because small elem ents or microfeatures have gathered around the
concept bird* that will be accessed in the process of communication. There
is a critical mass of m icrofeatures gathered that allows us to classify both
as birds. These m icrofeatures are more akin to de Blois's attributes than
components of meaning: "A component of m eaning is a distinctive feature,
whereas an attribute is not distinctive in nature." O ur attention, in the end,
is on attributes. For example, w hen we say "game" or "bank," just w hat
do we classify as a " distinctive feature" or component? We do not start
w ith "prototypes" of a "game" or "bank" or "bird" or "rope" b ut rather
w ith a somewhat variable set of m icrofeatures gathered in a schema that
changes w ith each use. Also, in any given utterance the concept bird* m ay
dynam ically change , for example, if I envision a "bird race" w ith contestants m ounted on ostriches running around a track tow ard a finish line.
M eanings are created in com m unication and w ords do not decompose
neatly into their various constituents. Words give access to "a vast array of
encyclopaedic assum ptions" 68 that we will selectively access in the process
of com m unication.69
67. De Blois, "Lexicography and Cognitive Linguistics" 4.
68. Georg Kj011, "The 'Content' of 'Content7: Applying the Lexical Pragmatics of Relevanee Theory" (MA thesis. University College London, 2007) 15.
69. Take this example from Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations: The English
Text of the Third Edition (trans. G. E. M. Anscombe; 3rd ed.; New York: Macmillan,1973) 31-32:
Consider for example the proceedings that we call "games." I mean board-games,
card-games, ball-games, Olympic games, and so on. What is common to them
all?Don't say: "There must be something common, or they would not be called
'games'"but look and see whether there is anything common to all. For if you
look at them you will not see something that is common to all, but similarities,
relationships, and a whole series of them at that. To repeat: don't think, but look!
Look for example at board-games, with their multifarious relationships. Now pass
to card-games; here you find many correspondences with the first group, but many
common features drop out, and others appear. When we pass next to ball-games,

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Bulletin for Biblical Research 22.3


C o n c l u s io n

Developments w ithin the field of lexical pragm atics hold great potential
for helping us use well the lexicons and the literary corpus that underlies
them. By understanding the relationship betw een lexemes and concepts,
and recognizing the dynamic forces in play in communication which yield
ad hoc concepts in any and every com m unication event, we will take a
further step forward in the process of utterance interpretation. M aintaining faithfulness to the biblical author's m eaning entails recognizing that
w ords do not encode concepts and that concepts themselves are schemas
that are then modified or constructed in use. These processes are in play in
all hum an communication, w hether contem porary or ancient. M any of our
exegetical com m entaries trace these modifications, often w ithout a clear
recognition of w hat is occurring linguistically. A more pragm atically oriented approach, and I w ould suggest one based on the current discussions
w ithin RT, will help us revise our understanding of how to use lexicons
and the corpus and will assist us in orienting our students to the dynamics
of communication. Relevance Theory provides rich understanding of the
role of authors, contexts, and readers in the process of communication and
points up both the nature of ad hoc concept formation and the constraints
on inference that keep the communicative enterprise from ending in interpretive nihilism.
At the same time, lexical pragm atics has implications for the way lexicons are designed. The issues that lexical pragm atics raise regarding the
relationship betw een lexemes and concepts, and the dynam ic nature of
concept schemes, are consonant w ith current discussions on lexicography
as well as cognitive psychology. Studies on PDP processing and the discussion among lexicographers about "meaning events" in relationship to the
lexicon both point in the same direction as RT. While lexical semantics has
oriented most of our lexical and exegetical w ork up to this point, it has
not been capable of describing the dynam ics of concept formation. O ur
handbooks on interpretation show awareness of the "something more" that
is going on w hen we seek to interpret lexemes, and perhaps it is time to
revise our understanding of lexicography and exegetical m ethodology in
much that is common is retained, but much is lost.Are they all "amusing"? Compare chess with noughts and crosses. Or is there always winning and losing, or
competition between players? Think of patience. In ball-games there is winning and
losing; but when a child throws his ball at the wall and catches it again, this feature
has disappeared. Look at the parts played by skill and luck; and at the difference
between skill in chess and skill in tennis. Think now of games like ring-aringa
roses; here is the element of amusement, but how many other characteristic features
have disappeared! And we can go through the many, many other groups of games
in the same way; can see how similarities crop up and disappear. And the result of
this examination is: we see a complicated network of similarities overlapping and
criss-crossing: sometimes overall similarities, sometimes similarities of detail.
What, then, is a "typical" game, or bird, or rope? See the comments in Hanks, "Do Word
Meanings Exist?"128.

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333

light of these findings from various quarters. Very few students of biblical
studies have engaged the field of linguistics, and those who do have often
not taken advantage of texts, courses, and program s based on pragmatics.
This field of linguistics, and especially RT, is a dom ain ripe for rich new
research and teaching.

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