La Métalangue sémantique naturelle: acquis et défis

Translated title of the contribution: Natural semantic metalanguage: achievements and challenges

Bert Peeters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the natural semantic metalanguage approach, and of those who, on the basis of superficial readings, may have reached the hasty conclusion that the Wierzbickian approach had nothing to offer them, this article provides an overview which is as systematic as possible: it leaves out nothing that is essential, either with respect to what has already been achieved (the «achievements»), or with respect to what remains to be done (the «challenges»). In reality, the NSM approach provides all those who do not remain indifferent to the desire to be understood, as much by scholars as by untrained readers, with a way to overcome the «crossing the creek» syndrome referred to by Georges Kleiber (2001: 3): «This syndrome, noted for the first time in the Middle Ages among the Oelenberg monks (in Reiningue, near Mulhouse) is well-known: sufferers keep hopping from one rock onto another, without ever falling into the water, but they forget they need to cross the river!» The natural semantic metalanguage is shown to be at once unique and multi-faceted, with the English and French versions being used to briefly present its lexicon and grammar. Before moving on to the challenges, the notions of «cultural script» and «culture» are briefly dealt with. We particularly insist on some of the most recent tasks NSM practitioners have embarked on. These include the formulation of a typology of pathways enabling one to deal more effectively with the issue of language and cultural values, the compilation of the list of semantic molecules to be used to increase the readability of semantic explications, and the elaboration of «semantic templates» for the explication of words belonging to specific semantic categories such as emotions, physical contact verbs, speech act verbs etc.
Translated title of the contributionNatural semantic metalanguage: achievements and challenges
Original languageFrench
Title of host publicationGrandes voies et chemins de traverse de la sémantique cognitive
EditorsJacques François
Place of PublicationLeuven, Belgium
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9789042923553
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Publication series

NameMémoires de la Société de linguistique de Paris. Nouvelle série


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