Cognitive Systematicity of Semantic Change: Cross-Linguistic Evidence

Baseel A. AlBzour


Banking on intrinsic generative assumptions of cognitive semantics, this paper is a humble attempt that specifically sheds light on some major aspects of overtly intricate yet covertly systematic interaction that steers our conceptual processing of inherent semantic and pragmatic changes. The basic premises of such cognitive operations stem from yet may exceed the limitations of Elizabeth Traugott’s and Eve Sweetser’s historical pragmatic approach that elaborately envisages such lexical changes as meaning relations with their metaphorically polysemous progress in light of relevant epistemic constraints that can help us decode ambiguous components of some functional and lexical categories. Therefore, this paper examines in principle how schematic lexical meaning can be cross-linguistically and cross-culturally traced, handled and perceived in order to cater for an optimal matrix and some rule-governed clues and rules that may explain the internal universal design and flow of semanticity and pragmaticity in charge of such linguistic behavior. The data this study exploits and explores draw on some English and Arabic representative examples that can satisfactorily exhibit an interesting well-established cognitive mechanism that can reveal the role of Homo sapiens’ encyclopedic and collective faculty vis-à-vis such word processing; the data primarily encompass the English words silly, simple, innocent and naïve as well as their Arabic counterparts.



Semantics; pragmatics; cognitive processing; Sweetser; Traugott; schemata; cross-linguistic evidence

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