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Re: Semantic typology?

From:John Vertical <johnvertical@...>
Date:Monday, August 11, 2008, 13:05
>Is there any linguistic theory dealing with language typology on a semantic >level, corresponding to the morphosyntactic typologies based on primary >word order or degrees of synthesis and agglutinativity? E.g., a set of basic >questions one could ask about the way languages divide up certain >semantic fields, or whether certain common but not universal concepts are >lexicalized, that would sort languages into a small set of basic types? >Or conditional semantic universals like "if a language lexicalizes concept >X it will also lexicalize concept Y" or "if a language distinguishes concepts >A and B with distinct words it will also distinguish concepts C and D"?
I've seen some that concern fairly closed word classes, especially colors: the most basic division is "white" vs. "black" (some binary systems I've seen described as "bright" vs "dull"), after that comes the concept of "red", after that "green" and "yellow", then "blue", then various other colors. As usual, there are exceptions - IIRC there was a language that failed to distinguish "blue", but did have words for "purple" and "brown". Kinship terms might also have something similar going for them, tho I've not seen any such universals plainly laid out. Compass directions, maybe? I would assume any language distinguishing roots for any of the intercardinals should also distinguish some for the cardinals. I'm rather skeptical about the existence of semantic universals linking non- related concepts.
>If there are such hypothesized universals I want to violate some of them >in my next engelang and see what happens. > >-- >Jim Henry
Basic color terminology of "polka", "tweed", "chrome", "iridescent" and "matte"? :) John Vertical


Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>