Temperature terms and their meaning in Yucatec Maya (Mexico)

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Many authors suggest that temperature meaning is primarily defined through bodily experience (Goddard & Wierzbicka 2007; Koptjevskaja-Tamm & Rakhilina 2006). While this is probably the case for the basic meaning of many temperature terms around the world, some languages nonetheless use temperature terms to refer to categorical temperatures. Importantly, categorical temperature meaning need not be metaphorical, but may refer to a fixed thermal state of an entity (i.e. hot or cold) disregarding its actual temperature (as measurable with a thermometer). This paper explores how in Yucatec Maya, temperature terms are not only used for description of sensory, but also categorical temperatures. Such a system challenges the assumption that temperature conceptualisation would exclusively be defined anthropocentrically.


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