Polysemy and synonymy

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This chapter introduces the field of polysemy and synonymy studies from a Cognitive Linguistic perspective. Firstly, the discussion explains and defines the object of research, showing that the study of semantic relations, traditionally restricted to the description of lexical semantics, needs to be extended to include all formal structures, including morpho-syntax. Secondly, given the theoretical assumptions of Cognitive Linguistics, it is argued that quantitative corpus-driven methods are essential for the description of semantic structures. Lastly, the chapter charts the development of Cognitive Semantic research in polysemy and synonymy and demonstrates how the current corpus-driven research in the field is inherently linked to the traditions of radial network analysis and prototype semantics. It is argued that instead of an empirical revolution (as has been suggested in recent commentaries), the current trends in the use of observational data are a natural extension of the Cognitive Semantic research tradition.


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