Lexico-semantic universals: A critical overview

Lexico-semantic universals: A critical overview Are there any word-meanings which are absolute and precise lexico-semantic universals, and if so, what kind of meanings are they? This paper assesses the status, in a diverse range of languages, of about 100 meanings which have been proposed by various scholars (linguists, anthropologists, psychologists) as potential universals. Examples include: ‘I’, ‘this’, ‘one’, ‘big’, ‘good’, ‘true’, ‘sweet’, ‘hot’, ‘man’, ‘mother’, ‘tree’, ‘water’, ‘sun’, ‘wind’, ‘ear’, ‘say’, ‘do’, ‘go’, ‘sit’, ‘eat’, ‘give’, ‘die’, ‘maybe’, ‘because’. Though relatively small, the sample is variegated enough to justify the preliminary conclusion that the semantic primes proposed by Wierzbicka (1996) and colleagues are much stronger contenders for universal status than are terms designating natural phenomena, body parts, concrete objects, and other putative experiential or cultural universals. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Linguistic Typology de Gruyter

Lexico-semantic universals: A critical overview

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
© Walter de Gruyter
Subject
Articles
ISSN
1430-0532
eISSN
1613-415X
D.O.I.
10.1515/lity.5.1.1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Are there any word-meanings which are absolute and precise lexico-semantic universals, and if so, what kind of meanings are they? This paper assesses the status, in a diverse range of languages, of about 100 meanings which have been proposed by various scholars (linguists, anthropologists, psychologists) as potential universals. Examples include: ‘I’, ‘this’, ‘one’, ‘big’, ‘good’, ‘true’, ‘sweet’, ‘hot’, ‘man’, ‘mother’, ‘tree’, ‘water’, ‘sun’, ‘wind’, ‘ear’, ‘say’, ‘do’, ‘go’, ‘sit’, ‘eat’, ‘give’, ‘die’, ‘maybe’, ‘because’. Though relatively small, the sample is variegated enough to justify the preliminary conclusion that the semantic primes proposed by Wierzbicka (1996) and colleagues are much stronger contenders for universal status than are terms designating natural phenomena, body parts, concrete objects, and other putative experiential or cultural universals.

Journal

Linguistic Typologyde Gruyter

Published: Jul 16, 2001

Keywords: basic vocabulary; lexical universals; lexicon; Natural Semantic Metalanguage; polysemy; semantic primes; semantics

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