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Colexification and semantic change in colour terms in Sino-Tibetan and Indo-European languages

Söderqvist, Kajsa LU (2017) ALSK11 20162
General Linguistics
Abstract
Colour terms is a highly interesting field when investigating linguistic universals and how language vary cross-linguistically. Colour semantics, the investigation of the meaning of colour, consists in largely of two opposing sides: the universalists, proposing that colour terms are universal (Berlin & Kay 1969) and the relativists claiming a variation in meaning cross-linguistically (Wierzbicka 2008). The highly changeable field lexical semantic change is defined as the change in meaning in concepts connected to a lexical item and a typical pattern of change is words becoming polysemous (Durkin 2009). To gain an expanded picture and understanding of a term, a historical investigation and etymological research of its derived concepts is a... (More)
Colour terms is a highly interesting field when investigating linguistic universals and how language vary cross-linguistically. Colour semantics, the investigation of the meaning of colour, consists in largely of two opposing sides: the universalists, proposing that colour terms are universal (Berlin & Kay 1969) and the relativists claiming a variation in meaning cross-linguistically (Wierzbicka 2008). The highly changeable field lexical semantic change is defined as the change in meaning in concepts connected to a lexical item and a typical pattern of change is words becoming polysemous (Durkin 2009). To gain an expanded picture and understanding of a term, a historical investigation and etymological research of its derived concepts is a useful resource. Biggam (2012) points out that specifically colour terms are less stable and that historical colour terms tend to have broader coverage than the modern terms, which makes them an interesting object of investigation.

The focus of this thesis is consequently to investigate and contrast the synchronic colexifications and diachronic derivations of ten colour terms in ten Sino-Tibetan and ten Indo-European languages. A dataset in DiACL (Carling 2017) has been constructed to gather the collected lexemes, followed by a manual extraction to semantic networks for a visual representation (Felbaum 2012). The lexical meanings have then been grouped into semantic classifications (Haspelmath & Tadmor 2009) for further analyze. The results showed very small overlap of colexified lexical meanings for each colour term in the diachronic perspective, but showed a conformity of semantic categories between the families. The type of change that occurred most frequently was narrowing and the direction of the semantic change went most frequently from more abstract to more concrete. When changes in the opposite direction occurred, it was almost exclusively in the Indo-European languages, not consistent with previous studies (Campbell 2004, Warth-Szczyglowska 2014). (Less)
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author
Söderqvist, Kajsa LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Polysemi och semantisk förändring i Sino-tibetanska och Indo-europeiska färgtermer
course
ALSK11 20162
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
colour terms, semantic change, etymology, lexical semantic change
language
English
id
8905470
date added to LUP
2017-04-05 14:10:44
date last changed
2017-04-05 14:10:44
@misc{8905470,
  abstract     = {Colour terms is a highly interesting field when investigating linguistic universals and how language vary cross-linguistically. Colour semantics, the investigation of the meaning of colour, consists in largely of two opposing sides: the universalists, proposing that colour terms are universal (Berlin & Kay 1969) and the relativists claiming a variation in meaning cross-linguistically (Wierzbicka 2008). The highly changeable field lexical semantic change is defined as the change in meaning in concepts connected to a lexical item and a typical pattern of change is words becoming polysemous (Durkin 2009). To gain an expanded picture and understanding of a term, a historical investigation and etymological research of its derived concepts is a useful resource. Biggam (2012) points out that specifically colour terms are less stable and that historical colour terms tend to have broader coverage than the modern terms, which makes them an interesting object of investigation. 
 
The focus of this thesis is consequently to investigate and contrast the synchronic colexifications and diachronic derivations of ten colour terms in ten Sino-Tibetan and ten Indo-European languages. A dataset in DiACL (Carling 2017) has been constructed to gather the collected lexemes, followed by a manual extraction to semantic networks for a visual representation (Felbaum 2012). The lexical meanings have then been grouped into semantic classifications (Haspelmath & Tadmor 2009) for further analyze. The results showed very small overlap of colexified lexical meanings for each colour term in the diachronic perspective, but showed a conformity of semantic categories between the families. The type of change that occurred most frequently was narrowing and the direction of the semantic change went most frequently from more abstract to more concrete. When changes in the opposite direction occurred, it was almost exclusively in the Indo-European languages, not consistent with previous studies (Campbell 2004, Warth-Szczyglowska 2014).},
  author       = {Söderqvist, Kajsa},
  keyword      = {colour terms,semantic change,etymology,lexical semantic change},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Colexification and semantic change in colour terms in Sino-Tibetan and Indo-European languages},
  year         = {2017},
}