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The Psychology of Word Meanings by Paula J. Schwanenflugel

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6Learning Word Meanings from Definitions: Problems and Potential

Margaret G. McKeownLRDC, University of Pittsburgh

Philosophers, psychologists, and linguists have long struggled with the issue of what word meaning is and how to represent it. Although the issue seems far from resolved, this situation has not daunted lexicographers and their forebears, who have been rendering definitions for individual words for at least 24 centuries (Wierzbicka, 1985).

A definition can be seen as an attempt to capture the essence of a word’s meaning by summarizing all of its applications and possible applications. There are compelling practical reasons for such attempts. A collection of summaries of word meanings offers valuable recourse to language users ...

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