Word Meanings

Authored by: Richard C. Anderson , William E. Nagy

Handbook of Reading Research

Print publication date:  March  2016
Online publication date:  April  1996

Print ISBN: 9781138834262
eBook ISBN: 9780203447772
Adobe ISBN: 9781136610745


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Words have often been called slippery customers, and many scholars have been distressed by their tendency to shift their meanings and slide out from under any simple definition. A goal of some clear thinkers has been to use words in more precise ways. But though this is an excellent and necessary step for technical jargon, it is a self-defeating program when applied to ordinary words. It is not only that words are shifters; the objects to which they must be applied shift with even greater rapidity. (Labov, 1973, p. 341)

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