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The semantics of polysemy; reading meaning in English and Warlpiri.


The semantics of polysemy; reading meaning in English and Warlpiri.

Riemer, Nick.

Mouton de Gruyter


487 pages



Cognitive linguistics research; 30


Rather than simply focus on the form of language, argues the author, linguistic theory must provide a rigorous characterization of meaningfulness. He believes that the study of polysemy (the capacity to have multiple meanings) as the central phenomenon of lexical semantics can yield rich fruit in this area. In support of this task, he presents an analysis of polysemous "percussion/impact" or "hitting" verbs in English and the Central Australian language of Warlpiri that uses a typology of metaphoric and metonymic meaning relations. This analysis of polysemy networks is preceded by a discussion of theoretical questions concerning the nature and epistemological status of semantic constructs that is "fuelled' by the complementary ideas that the subjective character of semantic analysis is irreducible and that real empirical progress in linguistics is dependant on acceptance of this fact.

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Publication:Reference & Research Book News
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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