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Kinship Semantics: Lexical Universals as a Key to Psychological Reality

Anna Wierzbicka
Anthropological Linguistics
Vol. 29, No. 2 (Summer, 1987), pp. 131-156
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30027968
Page Count: 26
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Kinship Semantics: Lexical Universals as a Key to Psychological Reality
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Abstract

Is it possible to discover the psychologically real meaning of kinship terms? Burling (1969) maintains that it is not, because of the non-uniqueness of possible semantic analyses. Wallace and Atkins (1969) argue that any search for psychological reality is threatened by "an almost unavoidable ethnocentrism", resulting from the use "of the ethnographer's English, or any language other than the idiom of his informants." The present paper argues that both these problems can be overcome if semantic analysis is carried out in terms of lexical universals.

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