Il gioco linguistico del significato letterale / Literal meaning as a language game

  • Marco Carapezza
Keywords: Literal Meaning, Language Games, Contextualism


Literal Meaning is a widely used notion, which seems to be well rooted in the strong intuition that words have a meaning in themselves. However, as pointed out in previous literature (e.g. Recanati 2004), this theoretical notion seems to be problematic in accounting for some aspects of the nature of linguistic meaning. Embracing these criticisms, we will show how the heuristic power of this notion becomes apparent when looking at some specific types of contexts, namely those language games where it is necessary to retrieve the meaning of words in isolation. This will allow us to argue in favour of consistency of this notion with theoretical framework with a strong focus on the contextual nature of linguistic meaning.

In order to do so:

  1. We will clarify what we mean by standard notion of literal meaning and the main criticisms coming from contextualist approaches;
  2. We will show how, in spite of its weaknesses, this notion tends to be widely used, since it seems to capture the intuition that words have a meaning in themselves and therefore that languages rely on a stable lexicon which can be accessed metalinguistically;
  3. We will show how this notion can still be used within contextualist frameworks to account for some specific types of language games where those metalinguistic operations are necessary.


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How to Cite
Carapezza, M. (2018) “Il gioco linguistico del significato letterale / Literal meaning as a language game”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 00. Available at: (Accessed: 23October2021).