3. Language, memory, and concepts of memory: Semantic diversity and scientific psychology

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In a theoretical commentary on the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach to the semantics of memory and remembering, this paper argues that evidence of rich cross-linguistic diversity in this domain is entirely compatible with the best interpretations of our interdisciplinary cognitive sciences. In particular, it responds to Anna Wierzbicka’s critique of contemporary psychology, suggests some specific modifications to her proposed explications of some ways of talking about what happened before, and questions her claim that certain historically contingent features of modern Western views of memory are built in to the semantics of English terms. The paper concludes by suggesting a different approach to semantic diversity and the study of memory, and a more positive vision of a culturallysensitive interdisciplinary science.


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