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Lexical polyfunctionality in discourse: A quantitative corpus-based approach

  • Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana
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The dissertation establishes ‘binominal lexeme’ as a comparative concept and discusses its cross-linguistic typology and semantics. Informally, a binominal lexeme is a noun-noun compound or functional equivalent; more precisely, it is a lexical item that consists primarily of two thing-morphs between which there exists an unstated semantic relation. Examples of binominals include Mandarin Chinese 铁路 (tiělù) [iron road], French chemin de fer [way of iron] and Russian железная дорога (železnaja doroga) [iron:adjz road]. All of these combine a word denoting ‘iron’ and a word denoting ‘road’ or ‘way’ to denote the meaning railway. In each case, the unstated semantic relation is one of composition: a railway is conceptualized as a road that is composed (or made) of iron. However, three different morphosyntactic strategies are employed: compounding, prepositional phrase and relational adjective. This study explores the range of such strategies used by a worldwide sample of 106 languages to express a set of 100 meanings from various semantic domains, resulting in a classification consisting of nine different morphosyntactic types. The semantic relations found in the data are also explored and a classification called the Hatcher-Bourque system is developed that operates at two levels of granularity, together with a tool for classifying binominals, the Bourquifier. The classification is extended to other subfields of language, including metonymy and lexical semantics, and beyond language to the domain of knowledge representation, resulting in a proposal for a general model of associative relations called the PHAB model. The many findings of the research include universals concerning the recruitment of anchoring nominal modification strategies, a method for comparing non-binary typologies, the non-universality (despite its predominance) of compounding, and a scale of frequencies for semantic relations which may provide insights into the associative nature of human thought.
This concise history of structural linguistics charts its development from the 1870s to the present day. It explains what structuralism was and why its ideas are still central today. For structuralists a language is a self-contained and tightly organised system whose history is of changes from one state of the system to another. This idea has its origin in the nineteenth century and was developed in the twentieth by Saussure and his followers, including the school of Bloomfield in the United States. Through the work of Chomsky, especially, it is still very influential. Matthews examines the beginnings of structuralism and analyses the vital role played in it by the study of sound systems and the problems of how systems change. He discusses theories of the overall structure of a language, the 'Chomskyan revolution' in the 1950s, and the structuralist theories of meaning.
This paper aims to give a cross‐linguistic overview of pluractionality. Pluractionality is defined as a structural modification of the verb indicating the presence of multiple events. The paper first investigates the functions associated with pluractional markers in the languages of the world and classifies them into core and additional functions. I then present the most frequent marking strategies that the languages adopt in order to encode pluractionality and briefly discuss the morphological nature of one in particular (i.e., lexical alternation), as well as the formal identification of participant plurality. Finally, I examine the grammatical status of pluractionality in a cross‐linguistic perspective, taking the most recent typological literature into consideration. I conclude that “pluractionality” cannot be theoretically conceived as a unique, cross‐linguistically valid category but should rather be regarded as a label, which indicates different phenomena in different languages, useful for typological comparison but not reflecting any kind of pre‐established grammatical category.