This paper will provide a typological-contrastive sketch of the lexical semantic structure of the verb lexicon in Swedish based on data from translation corpora and the information on lexical typology currently available in published works. As a background, a brief survey is given of basic verbs in European languages. The major part of the paper is devoted to sketches of the most frequent verbs within some of the most basic semantic fields such as Posture, Location, Motion and Possession. Language-specific lexical differentiation is exemplified by the verbs of putting sätta-ställa-lägga and an example of an extensive language-specific pattern of polysemy is presented in an analysis of the very frequent verb få ‘get, may’. The paper also discusses some cases of grammaticalization such as the use of gå ‘go’ as a marker of a specific type of possibility.
This paper will discuss corpus-based methods to study semantic fields from a contrastive perspective using the verbs of cutting and breaking (C&B) in English and Swedish as an example. The choice of the semantic field as the unit of comparison (rather than individual words) brings specific types of research questions into focus such as the pattern of semantic differentiation between members of the field. A second issue is field-specific patterns of polysemy, i.e. whether certain types of semantic extensions are shared between members of the field. Special attention is paid to the choice of data. An earlier typological study by Majid and Bowerman (2007) used data elicited with video clips to get comparable data. The present study is based on a large translation corpus consisting of subtitles to achieve comparability and to identify correspondent items across languages. The use of this corpus raises questions about its representativeness (how representative the corpus is of the compared languages in general) and about authenticity: to what extent various translation effects influence the result. To counterbalance and to assess such problems, samples were drawn from two registers (fiction and news) of monolingual English (BNC) and Swedish (KORP) corpora. The samples had to be restricted in size since they were manually coded. Certain aspects of meaning could also be investigated based on very large corpora with automatically generated word sketches (showing collocational patterns) provided by SketchEngine and KORP.
The present paper presents a study of the meaning potential of the Swedish verb få ‘get’ in a contrastive perspective. The meaning potential represents the total set of senses of a word and their relationships. The verb få has a complex pattern of polysemy and grammaticalization including lexical as well as modal, aspectual and causative grammatical meanings and the interpretation of få in text is based on syntactic, lexical semantic and pragmatic cues. The total set of meanings form a very language-specific pattern. Data consist of close to 1 000 occurrences of få in a multilingual parallel corpus consisting of extracts from 10 Swedish original novels and their translations into English, German, French and Finnish. If the meaning ‘come to possess (something concrete)’ is regarded as the prototypical meaning, få has rather direct equivalents in English get, German bekommen and kriegen and Finnish saada, whereas French lacks a clear equivalent already in this sense. With respect to most of the other senses (or uses), the meaning potential of få is more or less unique in relation to the other languages except for Finnish saada. The major aim of the present paper is to describe how unique meaning patterns can be expressed in other languages. A study of the translation patterns reveals extensive use of syntactic restructuring to render certain meanings or the use of verbs with very different meaning potentials which overlap only partly with that of få. The latter applies in particular to the modal meanings and the very language-specific combination of the seemingly contradictory meanings permission and obligation. Not only are verbs with other basic meanings than ‘get, come to possess’ used as translations in the other languages but distinctions between modal meanings are drawn in different ways. The results of the contrastive study are briefly discussed also within a typological framework.