Memory for Text: The Relationship between Form and Meaning

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A linguistic sign, according to Saussure (1966), is a combination of a signifier (form) and a signified (meaning). Form without meaning is just half of the sign. Although in some situations surface forms are excellently retained in memory over time, in most circumstances, explicit long term memory for the surface details or memory for forms of long-past linguistic events is poor or non-existent. Taylor (2012) and Port (2007), however, have proposed that there may be implicitly accumulated memory traces for all aspects of the language— nothing is thrown away. In the present study, 'form refers to physical properties or surface features such as the orthographic, phonological and acoustic representations of a text, while 'meaning' refers to semantic properties, including contextual and pragmatic information. There are some curiosities about their relationship, which this paper will tease apart. The curiosities relate to how language is processed, represented and retained in different circumstances.


1-Amjad Saleem
Assistant Professor, Department of English & Applied Linguistics, University of Peshawar, Peshawar, KP, Pakistan.

2-Muhammad Umer
Assistant Professor, Department of English, Islamia College University Peshawar, KP, Pakistan.


Form, Meaning, Memory, Memorization, Text, Processing

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Published: 06 2021

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