An Illustrative Dictionary of Semantics: ILLUDS
by Mohammad Forouzani (Martin Foroz)
BookVenture Publishing LLC

"In effect, semantics is a highly researched area that concerns language scholars from all linguistic backgrounds."

To create a much-needed comprehensive lexicon of semantic terminology, author Forouzani has composed 1,267 entries in this innovative guide for those studying, researching, and teaching linguistics. Semantics is the exploration of the meaning of words, and, therefore, even the words used to describe, define, or amplify linguistics will themselves have shades of meaning. This dictionary elucidates these terms in sometimes lengthy detail. The definition of “type checking of predication,” for example, covers nearly three full pages. Many of the terms in the collection are complex, requiring numerous concrete illustrations, small flow charts, and/or suggestions for further reading. In support of his selections, the author includes ten pages of bibliography.

The distinction between “absolute and relative tense” provides a case in point. It is a dictionary item that, while necessary for those in the linguistic realm, could, as construed by Forouzani, also be accessible to an interested but not academically versed reader. The two tenses are illustrated by a comparison of the simple past tense and the traditional pluperfect or past-perfect tense. One can say, “John’s uncle died” or “John’s uncle had died.” The former refers to an absolute past event that preceded the “moment of utterance,” whereas the latter refers to a timeframe that is past in relation to a “contextually given time” that “is itself relative to the moment of utterance.” "Utterance" is also defined by the author. It refers to the use of a piece of language by a “particular speaker, on a particular occasion.” It is a physical event and, as such, is ephemeral. The reader can understand this through the careful wording of the author's definition, which offers context. Once you utter a sentence, it is gone, or as Forouzani styles it rather poetically, “utterances die on the wind.”

The author holds a BA and an MA degree in English literature as well as a Ph.D. in teaching English as a foreign language. Through these disciplines he found a niche in the exploration of the subtleties of linguistics, teaching students from a variety of cultural and language backgrounds. He has published academic works in both Persian and English, and his poems appear in numerous journals. He indicates in his Introduction that meaning fascinates him, and his dictionary supports that assertion. The terminology cited by Forouzani is underpinned by examples and shadings that are often practical and related to actual usage. Some of these are charming and would attract readers outside the linguistic field. As the author points out, even the word “mean” has multiple meanings.

In one especially absorbing section, the author discusses the problems inherent in translation. Every language has different rules of grammar that can obviously create a dilemma for a translator. Some languages, like German and Japanese, have multiple, subtly nuanced words for the English words “I” or “you,” according to formal or personal context. So how does a translator deal with changing an American movie such as a typical love story into German or Japanese? Because of such engaging illustrations, ordinary, intelligent readers can enjoy the dictionary. In the main, however, it is targeted to and will be a highly useful tool for those involved in linguistics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as those concerned with critical thinking, law, and psychology. It will be a ”must-have,” the author believes, for university libraries. Forouzani welcomes his readers to make comments and offer suggestions and has plans for future, expanded editions of this far-reaching guide.

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