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Typological approaches to lexical semantics
Although the term “lexical typology” is often used as if it were self-explanatory there is not much consensus on what exactly it can refer to, apart from the evident fact that it involves crosslinguistic research on the lexicon. Many linguists will probably agree with Lehrer's (1992: 249) widely quoted definition that lexical typology is concerned with the “characteristic ways in which language […] packages semantic material into words” (cf. the overviews in Koch 2001 and Brown 2001). This would make lexical typology a sub-branch of semantic typology concerned with the lexicon, where semantic typology, in the definition of Evans (forthcoming), is “the systematic cross-linguistic study of how languages express meaning by way of signs”. Other definitions of lexical typology, clinging to the apparently safer interface with grammar, focus on “typologically relevant features in the grammatical structure of the lexicon” (Lehmann 1990: 163) or on typologically relevant vs. language-specific patterns of the lexicon-grammar interaction (Behrens & Sasse 1997).
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