Monday, August 09, 2010

New Book: Meaning and the Lexicon

It slipped my mind to post this a few months ago, but my advisor Ray Jackendoff has just a had a new book come out that is worth picking up entitled Meaning and the Lexicon. It features a collection of his papers tracing the development of his theories over the past 35 years. Pertinent to me, not only does this work frame the work that I am doing, but the book features new illustrations by yours truly!

There are several great and interesting chapters in this book, particularly one on the relationship of the conceptual system and language to the visual system, addressing the question of "how do we talk about what we see?" This is of course interesting to me because the bulk of the things I talk about are visual.

There's also a classic article about "Parts and Boundaries" which concerns the underlying principles guiding concepts having to do with whether things have internal parts (are they divisible into pieces and can retain the same idea? Ex. "water" broken apart is still water, but a "dog" is not...) and do they have boundaries (ex. a "lake" has a fixed boundary, but "fog" does not).

This latter article was very influential on me long before I even came to Tufts to work under Ray, and it inspired my approach to explaining the underlying semantics behind word balloons and thought bubbles (formerly online in the essay "Interfaces and Interactions", now taken down, retooled and hopefully appearing in a journal soon). Amusingly, I didn't know it when I was drawing the pictures, but it turned out that I drew illustrations for this refurbished chapter in the book. I've come full circle!

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