Tid: Torsdag 20 april 2017, kl 15:00-17:00
Plats: C389, Södra huset, Frescati

Postseminarium följer direkt efter seminariet i institutionens pentry.


Pervasiveness of polysemy and the fact that lexical meanings are subject to semantic change belong to linguists’ basic knowledge about the lexicon as a complex dynamic system. There is also a standard assumption that the two phenomena are interrelated in that a semantic change from one meaning to another usually involves a transitional stage where the two co-exist within one and the same polysemous lexeme. The cover notion of semantic shift refers to a pair of meanings A and B which are linked by some genetic relation, either diachronically (cf. Latin caput ‘head’ and French chef ‘chief’) or synchronically, e.g. as two meanings of a polysemous lexeme (cf. English head, as in I’ve hit my head, i.e. ‘top part of body’, and as in I’ve met my department head, i.e. ‘leader of others’). Seen from another perspective, the same phenomena can be considered as examples of motivation: the meaning ‘leader of others’ is motivated by the meaning ‘top part of body’.

Different patterns of semantic shifts and lexical motivation in general result from a complex interplay of universal cognitive processes and cultural/historical linguistic variables. Some patterns are cross-linguistically frequent, e.g., the extension of ‘see’ and ‘hear’ verbs to ‘smell’ and ‘taste’; others show a genetically and/or areally restricted distribution, e.g., the conflation of ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ in many Papuan and Australian Aboriginal languages, but also in some other languages of the world. Still others are very local or even language-specific, e.g., ‘beef’ expressed as ‘big meat’ in some of the languages of Hindukush.

Our joint edited volume Juvonen, Päivi & Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm (eds.) 2016, The lexical typology of semantic shifts. Berlin – New York: de Gruyter Mouton (https://www-degruyter-com.ezp.sub.su.se/viewbooktoc/product/433753) focuses on semantic shifts and motivation patterns in the lexicon seen cross-linguistically. Its key feature is its lexico-typological orientation, i.e. a heavy emphasis on systematic cross-linguistic comparison.  It presents therefore current theoretical and methodological trends in the study of semantic shifts and motivational patterns based on an abundance of empirical findings across genetically, areally and typologically diverse languages.

During the seminar we will highlight some of the leading themes and findings in the volume.

Information om föreläsarna:

Päivi Juvonen
Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm

Hjärtligt välkomna!
Ghazaleh Vafaeian och Ljuba Veselinova