Mimetic verbs and meaning

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This paper will discuss several lexical semantic differences between mimetic verbs and conventional prosaic verbs in Japanese, and show that meaning for mimetic verbs calls for a treatment distinct from that of lexical verbs. Taking into account the notion of ‘affect-imagistic dimension’ (Kita 1997) in which a mimetic base is represented in terms of its images, I will argue that an analysis that incorporates the basic premise of frame semantics and construction grammar can accommodate the seemingly idiosyncratic and unconventional lexical semantic properties of mimetic verbs. The wide range of semantic frames of mimetic verbs is thus fed by the numerous images of the mimetic base and the specific constructions in which they appear.


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