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Following Adam Smith’s line of argument, we examine the semantics of four economic principles in Chapter III of the Wealth of Nations that compose his famous proposition “that the division of labour is limited by the extent of the market.” We apply the Natural Semantic Metalanguage framework in linguistics to produce a series of explications that are clear and plain, cross-translatable into any language, intelligible to twenty-first-century readers, and faithfully close to the original text. Our paper explicates Smith’s logical argument in Chapter III and demonstrates how his ideas can be shared among speakers with different linguacultural backgrounds in line with the truly global view of economics that, we argue, Adam Smith had in mind: economics intended as the science of all people living and doing things together with other people to live well and to feel good.


This article was originally published in Journal of the History of Economic Thought in 2022.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.