How words matter. A psycholinguistic argument for meaning revision

Mind and Language:1-17 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Linguistic interventions aim to change our linguistic practices. A commonly discussed type of linguistic intervention is meaning revision, which seeks to associate existing words with new or revised meanings. But why does retaining old words matter so much? Why not instead introduce new words to express the newly defined meanings? Drawing on relevant psycholinguistic research, this paper develops an empirically motivated, general, and practically useful pro tanto reason to retain rather than replace the original word during the process of conceptual improvement.

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Steffen Koch
Bielefeld University

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