Charles Osgood's Place in the History of Semantics


  • W. Terrence Gordon Dalhousie University


Beginning in the 1950s, psychology felt the impact of increased attention to the study of meaning through the work of one from its own ranks, Charles Egerton Osgood. The breadth of Osgood's scholarship is the first general indication that it is inappropriate to class him categorically as a behavioral psychologist. This presentation attempts to show (contrary to an earlier assessment by Uriel Weinreich) that Osgood's work, though its objectives remain incomplete, is of as much relevance for the linguist's concern with meaning as for the psychologist's. The presentation focuses on parallel developments in psychology and linguistics, Osgood's early work, the semantic differential technique, semantic space, Osgood's model of meaning, the evolution in Osgood's thought and its relation to the contributions of other scholars which may be regarded as turning points in the history of semantics.



How to Cite

Gordon, W. T. (1985). Charles Osgood’s Place in the History of Semantics. Papers from the Annual Meetings of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association (PAMAPLA) ACTES DES COLLOQUES ANNUELS DE L’ASSOCIATION DE LINGUISTIQUE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES (ACAALPA)., 8, 61–78. Retrieved from

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