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Despite a sizable functional literature on variation and change, very little attention has been given to the diachronic mechanisms of meaning shifts and change covering the whole continuum from contentful to configurational meanings. This chapter is an attempt to begin filling this gap. It proposes a unitary approach to the mechanisms of variation and change within the Cognitive Linguistics framework. Two types of construals are considered to be essential for the differences between change and shifts, namely, metonymization and zone activation, both of which are part–whole configurations that profile aspects that are contextually motivated in a given situation in human communication. Metonymization is a construal that operates between senses, while activation of zones operates within senses


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