Semantic associations between sensory modalities, prehension and mental perceptions: A crosslinguistic perspective

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Following previous works (Sweetser 1990; Evans & Wilkins 2000) on the semantic extensions of verbs expressing sensory modalities and prehension to other semantic domains, this study investigates the semantic associations between vision, hearing, prehension, and mental perception in a sample of 25 languages belonging to 8 phyla. The study, based on first hand data, combines synchronic and diachronic analyses. It shows that, although vision prevails in the hierarchy of physical senses (Viberg 1984), the auditory modality prevails crosslinguistically as far as transfield associations between the hearing sense and mental perception are concerned. Vision comes next, then prehension. Furthermore the data invalidates the assumption that literacy might privilege sight as opposed to hearing in this respect, as a lexical universal.


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