From polysemy to semantic change : towards a typology of lexical semantic associations


From polysemy to semantic change : towards a typology of lexical semantic associations

edited by Martine Vanhove

(Studies in language companion series / series editors, Werner Abraham, Michael Noonan, v. 106)

J. Benjamins, c2008

  • : hb

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Includes bibliographical references and indexes



This book is the result of a joint project on lexical and semantic typology which gathered together field linguists, semanticists, cognitivists, typologists, and an NLP specialist. These cross-linguistic studies concern semantic shifts at large, both synchronic and diachronic: the outcome of polysemy, heterosemy, or semantic change at the lexical level. The first part presents a comprehensive state of the art of a domain typologists have long been reluctant to deal with. Part two focuses on theoretical and methodological approaches: cognition, construction grammar, graph theory, semantic maps, and data bases. These studies deal with universals and variation across languages, illustrated with numerous examples from different semantic domains and different languages. Part three is dedicated to detailed empirical studies of a large sample of languages in a limited set of semantic fields. It reveals possible universals of semantic association, as well as areal and cultural tendencies.


  • 1. Semantic associations: A foreword (by Vanhove, Martine)
  • 2. Part 1. State of the art
  • 3. Approaching lexical typology (by Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria)
  • 4. Part 2. Theoretical and methodological issues
  • 5. Words and their meanings: Principles of variation and stabilization (by Robert, Stephane)
  • 6. The typology of semantic affinities (by Pottier, Bernard)
  • 7. Cognitive onomasiology and lexical change: Around the eye (by Koch, Peter)
  • 8. Mapping semantic spaces: A constructionist account of the "light verb" xordaen 'eat' in Persian (by Family, Niloufar)
  • 9. Semantic maps and the typology of colexification: Intertwining polysemous networks across languages (by Francois, Alexandre)
  • 10. A catalogue of semantic shifts: Towards a typology of semantic derivation (by Zalizniak, Anna A.)
  • 11. Semantic associations and confluences in paradigmatic networks (by Gaume, Bruno)
  • 12. Part 3. Case studies
  • 13. About 'Eating' in a few Niger-Congo languages (by Bonvini, Emilio)
  • 14. Eating beyond certainties (by Henault, Christine)
  • 15. From semantic change to polysemy: The cases of 'meat/animal' and 'drink' (by Boyeldieu, Pascal)
  • 16. Is a 'friend' an 'enemy'? Between "proximity" and "opposition" (by Sakhno, Serguei)
  • 17. Semantic associations between sensory modalities, prehension and mental perceptions: A crosslinguistic perspective (by Vanhove, Martine)
  • 18. Cats and bugs: Some remarks about semantic parallelisms (by Masson, Michel)
  • 19. General index
  • 20. Index of languages
  • 21. Index of names

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