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Abstract

Abstract

While semantic change is notoriously idiosyncratic, cross-linguistic evidence suggests some general trends in the directions and mechanisms of semantic shifts. Notable among these are trends applying to the target domain of the human body, a domain that has received considerable attention due to its universality. However, broad surveys of many languages risk missing significant details. Data from the (DECOLAR) on the etymologies of terms for 97 body parts in 14 Romance languages calls some proposed trends into question. In particular, counterexamples are found to a supposed unidirectional shift from visible parts to the wholes that include them. Analysis of individual changes reveals contextual factors that can cause a lexical trend to not apply. The findings contribute to a more complex model of metaphorization and metonymization, the primary processes involved in lexical semantic change.

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2022-09-21
2022-10-07
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: semantics ; metaphor ; metonymy ; lexical change ; lexical typology
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