Anselm Terhalle, MA (Mr)
Phone +49 211 81-12556
Fax +49 211 81-03170 (central fax, please include name of addressee)
Linguistics (psycholinguistics), Romance languages, German language
SToRE member since 21 Aug 2012
1. advisor: Prof. Dr. Hans Geisler
2. advisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Indefrey
The Role of Conceptual Distance in Semantic Change: Historical and Psycholinguistic Evidence
It is assumed in historical semantics that semantic change proceeds step by step inasmuch as a word, whose original meaning A appears to have no immediate relation to a later meaning B, is supposed to have adopted one or several meanings in the interim which serve as associative chain between A and B. Thus, it is crucial for a step of semantic change that the new and the old meaning are associated with each other in some way, i.e. that the involved meanings are conceptually close enough.
Based on the assumption that conceptual closeness is not a matter of the kind of association on which a concrete case of semantic change relies (for example metonymic vs. metaphoric), this PhD project investigates the following question:
Does the degree of conceptual distance between meanings have an impact on semantic change or is meaning change rather a discrete, binary phenomenon where there are closely associated concepts which allow meaning change, and others which do not?
This research question is investigated in the form of the special case of metonymic, i.e. contiguity based semantic change. It is approached by the analysis of historical semantic data on the one hand and psycholinguistic experiments which simulate the first stages of semantic change on the other.