This chapter looks at the ways that the meanings of words are represented in our minds. One way that our mind represents word meanings is by collecting up memories of all the thing in the world that a word can refer to, that is the denotations or extensions of a word. But beyond just a set of exemplars, our minds also have mental definitions that allow us to decide whether a given thing the world could be referred to by a certain word. These mental definitions are called intensions, and this chapter explores how they might be represented in our minds, and how psycholinguistic experiments can give us evidence for how intensions are represented.
By the end of this chapter, you’ll be able to:
- identify the components of word meaning: intension, extension, denotation, and connotation,
- discuss how meanings of certain categories of words might be represented in the mind,
- predict whether a given pair of words will prime each other in a behavioural experiment.