To Mean - To Understand: Problems of Psychological Semantics

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It is not uncommon in science that following a period of turbulent growth, a skeptical mood builds up and doubts begin to be expressed as to the rationale of progress achieved and the extent to which the position reached coincides with the original goals. This kind of discomfort is felt today by linguists and their close companions, the psycholinguists. Despite its growing intensity, this discomfort is not readily verbalizable. Still, we will try to characterize it tentatively with a few angry assertions, each of which taken separately is perhaps untenable in its extreme form, but which together convey a sense of the malaise that seems to afflict the area in question, For one thing, the models and theories current in linguistics tend to approach a level of complexity at which extreme sophistication borders on folly. Further, the present inflation of macro- and microsystems testifies to the growing arbitrariness of theorizing - in spite of the abundance of publications specifying the criteria by which to evaluate these systems against a meta theory of science; thus we are made aware of the widening gulf between linguistic theory and the realities of language.