Plotting diachronic semantic maps

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The paper discusses patterns of polysemy among semantic roles in cross-linguistic perspective, and the possible way in which such polysemies come into being through meaning extension of morphemes (cases and adposition) that encode semantic roles. Semantic extension is described based on commonly assumed metaphors, which are thought to account for frequent polysemies, such as the Companion Metaphor in the case of the Comitative-Instrument polysemy. Taking space as a basic domain, metaphors are shown to provide links among different cognitive domains, which account for the position of semantic roles relative to one another in the ensuing semantic map. Such map incorporates diachronic information, assuming that metaphorical extension reflects diachronic developments. Although the specific focus of the paper concerns the contribution of metaphors to semantic extension, it is also shown that other processes are involved, such as analogy and various kinds of metonymy, which can account for some specific patterns of polysemy among semantic roles. Keywords: Metaphor; semantic maps; polysemy; meaning extension


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