Lexical typology through similarity semantics: Toward a semantic map of motion verbs

Bernhard Wälchli, 1  and Michael Cysouw, 2
  • 1 Stockholm University
  • 2 Ludwig Maximilians University Munich

Abstract

This paper discusses a multidimensional probabilistic semantic map of lexical motion verb stems based on data collected from parallel texts (viz. translations of the Gospel according to Mark) for 100 languages from all continents. The crosslinguistic diversity of lexical semantics in motion verbs is illustrated in detail for the domain of ‘go’, ‘come’, and ‘arrive’ type contexts. It is argued that the theoretical bases underlying probabilistic semantic maps from exemplar data are the isomorphism hypothesis (given any two meanings and their corresponding forms in any particular language, more similar meanings are more likely to be expressed by the same form in any language), similarity semantics (similarity is more basic than identity), and exemplar semantics (exemplar meaning is more fundamental than abstract concepts).

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Linguistics publishes articles and book reviews in the traditional disciplines of linguistics as well as in neighboring disciplines insofar as these are deemed to be of interest to linguists and other students of natural language. The journal also features occasional Special Issues in these fields.

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