What is the history of semantics

Research traditions and theories of meaning in historical semantics

Historical Semantics pp 86-103 | Cite as

Part of the Metzler Collection book series (SAME)


Questions of historical semantics have been and are dealt with in a variety of research contexts, e.g. in etymology, historical lexicology, loanword research, the history of concepts, keyword research, technical language research, dialectology, sociolinguistics, linguistic language criticism, literary history and cultural history. This diversity of research areas testifies to the interest in the subject and the diverse aspects of historical semantics. At the same time, however, this diversity hinders an overview of the state of research and makes it difficult to develop focused research strategies. This is reinforced by the fact that historical semantics was and is operated within the framework of very different theories of meaning or conceptions of meaning, e.g. within the framework of traditional theories of imagination, within the framework of structural semantics, within the framework of action-theoretical semantics and in different versions of cognitive semantics. Nevertheless, in the course of the history of research, a canon of fundamental historical-semantic questions has emerged, each of which is treated with different emphasis in different theoretical contexts and the investigation of which one can fall back on the results of the most diverse research traditions.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Giessen, Germany