Glossary of Linguistic Terms



A proposition is that part of the meaning of a clause or sentence that is constant, despite changes in such things as the voice or illocutionary force of the clause.

A proposition may be related to other units of its kind through interpropositional relations, such as temporal relations and logical relations.

The meaning of the term proposition is extended by some analysts to include the meaning content of units within the clause.

Example: The tall, stately building fell is said to express propositions corresponding to the following:

  • "The building is tall."
  • "The building is stately."
  • "The building fell."


The common content of each of the the following utterances is a proposition:

  • Alec ate the banana.
  • The banana was eaten by Alec.
  • Did Alec eat the banana?
  • Alec, eat the banana.

All these utterances may be analyzed as consisting of a predicate naming an event or state and one or more arguments naming referents that participate in that event or state.

  • The activity is eat.
  • The agent is Alec.
  • The patient is a banana.
Page/s: 1
Source: Searle and Vanderveken 1985

Searle, John, and Daniel Vanderveken. 1985.Foundations of illocutionary logic. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University.

Page/s: 944
Source: Mish 1991

Mish, Frederick (editor). 1991.Webster's ninth new collegiate dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster. 1,564 pages. 0877795088; indexed 0877795096; deluxe 087779510X.

Page/s: 2
Source: Hollenbach 1975

Hollenbach, Bruce. 1975. "Discourse structure, interpropositional relations, and translation." NOT 1962–2002.

Page/s: 27, 53–57
Source: Fleming 1988

Fleming, Ilah. 1988.Communication analysis: A stratificational approach. A field guide for communication situation, semantic, and morphemic analysis. Volume 2. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Page/s: 249
Source: Crystal 1985

Crystal, David. 1985.A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics. 2nd edition. New York: Basil Blackwell.

Page/s: 287–288
Source: Beekman and Callow 1974

Beekman, John, and John Callow. 1974.Translating the Word of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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