Towards a New Theory of Meaning

Oyinloye Mayowa Emmanuel


Over the years, there have been series of arguments cum controversies regarding what actually constitutes meaning in language. In several attempts to resolve these controversies, different semanticists and philosophers of language alike have taken giant steps towards developing different theories that would properly, in their own view, give a lucid account of meaning. In turn, these theories have also generated more challenging controversies. Along this theoretical trajectory, this paper therefore attempts a critical appraisal of some of the existing theories of meaning with the aim of bringing to the fore the cardinal tenets around which each of them revolves. In addition, the paper tries as much as possible to make some incursion into the historical background of these theories as well as identifying some of their strengths and weaknesses where necessary. The appraisal exercise is done in this work therefore necessitates a proposal of a new theory known as “Existential theory of meaning”, as a response to the theoretical concerns of beclouding how the concept ‘meaning’ should be analyzed.

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