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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2022

A Corpus-Based Approach to Conceptual History of Ancient Greek

Alek Keersmaekers and Toon Van Hal


While detecting semasiological or onomasiological change in the past involved annotating hundreds of corpus examples manually, the rise of “distributional” approaches to semantics has enabled researchers to detect semantic change in automated ways. These developments in linguistics are of particular interest for conceptual history, a branch in history that focuses on the evolution of concepts over time. The aim of this paper is to bring linguistic and historical approaches to semantic change closer together. It focuses on the Ancient Greek notion of βάρβαρος ‘foreign, barbarian’ and explores the extent to which corpora can shed light on its use throughout the classical and post-classical Greek period by relying on GLAUx, an automatically annotated corpus of Greek we recently developed. The semasiological perspective allows us to transcend the boundaries of one single genre or one period, while the onomasiological approach offers the possibility of mapping terms which belong to a similar conceptual sphere as the term under investigation, thus making conceptual research in history less dependent on the detailed scrutiny of a single term.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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