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 9783110226430, 9783110226447

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Historical Cognitive Linguistics

Cognitive Linguistics Research 47

Editors Dirk Geeraerts John R. Taylor Honorary editors Rene´ Dirven Ronald W. Langacker

De Gruyter Mouton

Historical Cognitive Linguistics Edited by Margaret E. Winters Heli Tissari Kathryn Allan

De Gruyter Mouton

ISBN 978-3-11-022643-0 e-ISBN 978-3-11-022644-7 ISSN 1861-4132 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Historical cognitive linguistics / edited by Margaret E. Winters, Heli Tissari, Kathryn Allan. p. cm. ⫺ (Cognitive linguistics research ; 47) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-3-11-022643-0 (alk. paper) 1. Linguisic change. 2. Cognitive grammar. 3. Historical linguistics. I. Winters, Margaret E. II. Tissari, Heli. III. Allan, Kathryn. P142.H47 2010 4171.7⫺dc22 2010039818

Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available in the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de. 쑔 2010 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/New York Typesetting: OLD-Media OHG, Neckarsteinach Printing: Hubert & Co. GmbH & Co. KG, Göttingen ⬁ Printed on acid-free paper Printed in Germany www.degruyter.com

Table of contents



1. History and Development Introduction: On the emergence of diachronic cognitive linguistics Margaret E. Winters


2. The Evolution of Language On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics (HCL): Some theoretical considerations Roslyn M. Frank and Nathalie Gontier


Metaphor in discourse history Andreas Musolff


3. Cognitive Approaches to Syntactic Change Where do beneficiaries come from and how do they come about? Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek and the typology of beneficiary Silvia Luraghi Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English: Semantics, variation and change Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens



4. Cognitive Approaches to Meaning Tracing metonymic polysemy through time: material for object mappings in the OED Kathryn Allan


The roles of reader construal and lexicographic authority in the interpretation of Middle English texts Louise Sylvester



Table of contents

5. The Expression of Emotions over Time Conceptual networking theory in metaphor evolution: Diachronic variation in models of love Richard Trim


Cognitive historical approaches to emotions: Pride Małgorzata Fabiszak and Anna Hebda


English words for emotions and their metaphors Heli Tissari


6. Afterword Prospects for the past: Perspectives for cognitive diachronic semantics Dirk Geeraerts




Preface The rapid success of Cognitive Linguistics as a theory, from the mid-1980s on, has led to continued exploration of many subfields of Linguistics through its lens. Diachronic work has not been exempt from this general interest, although here, as within other theories, it has not attracted the attention given to synchronic studies. To the best knowledge of the organizers, in fact, the diachronic session at the meeting at Krakow in August of 2007 was the first to focus directly on historical questions at an International Cognitive Linguistics conference. The first goal of this theme session was, therefore, a simple one: to bring historical linguists working within this framework together to report on their various strands of research. The result, the organizers (and present editors) hoped, would be more interaction among those doing diachronic research and more awareness among cognitive linguists of historical studies. In addition we hoped to start a conversation about the interaction between diachrony and synchrony, thus stimulating wider discussion about what each of these approaches might contribute to the other. Not all of the presenters at the conference are represented in this collection of papers, although most of them are, and one additional paper was also included (by Silvia Luraghi). The organizers decided against formal respondents, assigned to each paper, but rather ended the day-long session with a panel discussion where all the papers were commented on as a group. The focus of this final panel was, however, the future of diachronic cognitive linguistics. More specifically, there was dialog about what might develop from the approaches underlying the presentations and what needed more attention in the future. There was no attempt to capture this multi-faceted conversation in this volume; rather a final paper by Dirk Geeraerts, who was one of the panelists, has been included. As editors we have listed ourselves in reverse alphabetical order. This somewhat unusal order was chosen in order to emphasize the very collaborative relationship we have enjoyed as session organizers and editors. There are many people we would like to thank, starting with ElĪbieta Tabakowska who organized the Krakow conference. We are grateful to her for the idea which has led not only to the conference session and, ultimately, this volume, but also to a new collaboration and indeed friendship for the editors. We thank all the participants in the session, those whose papers are in the volume and those who for various reasons did not participate further; it was a stimulating and satisfying day! Anke Beck from Mouton de Gruyter and Dirk Geeraerts, in his role as editor of the Cognitive Linguistic Research series, en-



couraged us to think about publication from the very beginning and have been sources of support all along, as has Birgit Sievert, also of Mouton de Gruyter. We want to thank all those as well who read and commented on drafts of the papers; the volume in its final form is greatly enriched as a result. Päivi Koivisto-Alanko, also an organizer of the conference session, was unable to stay with us to the end in the editing of the volume, but her contributions at the beginning were indeed valuable. We missed her advice and her good sense after she had to withdraw from the project. Each of us has personal expressions of gratitude which serve as well as the dedication of this volume. Margaret Winters would like to thank, as always, Geoff Nathan who never fails to support her undertakings. Heli Tissari wants to thank her mother, Leena Tissari, for always listening patiently to any long and detailed descriptions of university life. The result is that not only has her mother encouraged her professionally, but also has begun to read philosophy of science herself, among other things. Kathryn Allan would like to thank Philip Durkin for all his support and encouragement during the preparation of the volume and for the many, many cups of tea.

1. History and Develoment

Introduction: On the emergence of diachronic cognitive linguistics1 Margaret E. Winters

Abstract While 1987 might be considered a pivotal year in the development cognitive linguistics (Lakoff 1987; Lakoff and Johnson 1987; Langacker 1987), the actuation of the theory must be dated somewhat earlier. Kemmer (1992) refers, in fact, to Ross (1972) on fuzzy grammatical categories as an early analysis of phenomena which have become central to the contemporary theory. While little was published in a specifically cognitive vein in the 1970s, it is certainly the case that explicitly cognitive papers were appearing and being noticed in the early and mid-1980s and that a few of these were already taking up a diachronic approach (see Sweetser 1982; Geeraerts 1983; Winters 1987a and b). These papers explored, variously, conceptual (Sweetser) and lexical change (Geeraerts), as well as a methodology for talking about grammatical evolution (Winters). At that time – and to a lesser extent still – historical approaches were considered somewhat secondary to synchronic studies, in part because connections between synchrony and diachrony were ignored or even actively denied in other theories. This was never the case in cognitive grammar. To be particularly noted is Sweetser’s (1990) far-ranging consideration of the relationship between synchrony and diachrony with attention to the semantic elements and processes common to both (cf. Kemmer 1992 as well). By the end of the 1980s, in part precisely because the theory has always posited crucial conceptual and linguistic relationships between language history and current language use (in addition to Sweetser 1990, see Langacker 1987), other issues like the expression of emotions and grammaticalization were being approached diachronically as well as synchronically. There was not, however, extensive attention paid by the cognitive community to language history. One exceptional conference in 1990 was dedicated to the relationship between diachrony and synchrony (cf. Kellermann and Morrissey 1992 and the papers within it both by cognitivists and by others with sympathy for the already growing body of cognitive scholarship), while the Milwaukee Symposium on Historical Linguistics drew several cognitive grammar contributions (cf. Kemmer 1992 and others). To the best of this author’s knowledge, however, the theme session at the International Conference on Cognitive Linguistics 10 (Krakow


This chapter has benefited from discussion with my co-editors and with others at the conference at Krakow. I would particularly like to thank Geoffrey Nathan and Dirk Geeraerts for their insights and suggestions.


Margaret E. Winters

2007) was the first session at either an otherwise cognitive or a diachronic conference dedicated to the intersection of language history and cognitive theory. This paper reviews this body of work across time in terms of its thematic contributions both to cognitive grammar and the study of language history. It also considers where the papers were presented and published, that is, to uncover to what extent cognitivists were interested in language change and specialists in diachronic linguistics were interested in cognitive grammar. In a final section it provides an overview of the papers in the volume, commenting on how they fit into the approaches discussed in earlier parts of this paper and how they break new ground.

1. Introduction In their proposal for a theme session at the International Cognitive Linguistics Association meeting in Krakow, Poland (July 2007), the editors of the present volume wrote: “the purpose of this [proposed] workshop is to bring together researchers in the field of historical linguistics in order to facilitate their mutual interaction, and to contribute to various strands of cognitive linguistics on a larger scale by comparing the diachronic approach with contemporary theory and discussion.” The workshop took place as proposed, and this volume is the most concrete result, a collection of papers, presented for the most part at the Krakow conference, which look both at the practice of historical cognitive linguistics and also, more broadly, at the ways in which the fields of historical linguistics and cognitive linguistics have – and continue to – interact. The goal of this introductory chapter is to provide, first of all, an overview of what has already been accomplished by approaching historical matters through a cognitive linguistics lens. It will look in particular at the earliest attempts to employ the then-emerging theory to elucidate change, by considering what emerged as the first subjects of inquiry, where these studies were presented, and, although this is often less important, by whom. Rather than attempting an état présent of all the many extensions of this theory, the next part of the chapter will provide a view of how historical approaches and cognitive linguistics have interacted and, from that interaction, how a diachronic approach and an emerging theory have informed each other. Finally, the chapter contains a digest of the rest of the papers in this volume, with the goal of contextualizing them within these various interactions of diachronic and cognitive approaches.2 2

A word is appropriate here as to sources: as with most historical studies. even those of relatively shallow time depth, this one relies whenever possible on written resources and attempts to avoid too much reliance on the memory of the author,



2. The development of cognitive linguistics 2.1. Early synchronic approaches It is hard to say when cognitive linguistics took shape as a theory; it is probably most accurate to state that it gradually coalesced out of a series of disparate but converging ideas into a recognizably unified whole. The theory (or set of theories) falls clearly, of course, into the class of approaches to language use (perception and production) which are semantics-based. One could argue, as has been elsewhere (Lakoff 1987: 581–585; also Winters Ms.), that among other origins it is an heir at least in the United States to the tradition of the formal theory – or rather constellation of theoretical approaches (John Lawler, p. c.) – called generative semantics. It is not a question of direct development, however, since all varieties of generative semantics held, as a fundamental claim, that deep structure, in the sense of transformational-generative grammar, is equivalent to the semantic representation of the sentence. As such generative semantics was taking a stance, from within the transformational paradigm, against the equally formal approach labeled interpretative semantics, what one might call the mainstream theory of the 1960s (for example, Chomsky 1965). Cognitive linguistics diverges much further from that particular mainstream in that it sees syntax serving entirely as the symbolization of meaning (Langacker 1987: 38). While further discussion of the entire question of the relationship between cognitive linguistics and generative semantics would take us far afield, it is worth noting that Kemmer (1990) cites one of the formative papers of the Generative Semantics movement as one of the first papers in the cognitive tradition (Ross 1972 on the notion of squishes, that is, indeterminate boundaries rather than rigid divisions in the definition of parts of speech). Ross proposes in that paper that it would be impossible ever to define noun or verb as a set of necessary criteria, foreshadowing the use of fuzzy sets several years later to characterize the meaning of grammatical – and other – expressions. Generative semantics has by no means been the only source identified for cognitive linguistics. Dirk Geeraerts, in an early paper (1988), considers its affinities with what he calls the historical-philological approach of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Three aspects of the approach (again, as with generative semantics, it is probably better described as an interconnected netdespite the fact that I was a participant from the early years in historical cognitive linguistics. For matters where I had to rely on my memory, I apologize in advance for errors, particularly those of omission.


Margaret E. Winters

work of approaches) are particularly salient in this regard. First, it has, like other linguistic theories of that era, a historical orientation; it also displays a psychological orientation, and, finally, can be characterized as a hermeneutical discipline. As will be discussed immediately below and throughout this introduction, cognitive linguistics has never been primarily historical in its approach. It does, however, share this psychological orientation. Through its place among what are called sciences humaines (as compared to natural sciences), it looks for the “expressive intention behind …forms of expressions.” (Geeraerts 1988: 652). Early European cognitive linguistics arises therefore as something of a return to this pre-structuralist approach to semantics, in part as a reaction against the strictures of structuralist linguistics. It is noteworthy that whether the impetus toward a cognitive approach was an antigenerativist or an anti-structuralist stance, there was agreement from the beginning as to the need for a firmly entrenched psychological component to the theory.

2.2. Diachronic cognitive linguistics Cognitive linguistics, like twentieth-century linguistic theories in general, was at first developed from a purely synchronic point of view. Early work addressed categorization and radial sets (leading to Lakoff 1987), and the meaning of words normally dismissed as more or less meaningless in other frameworks, most notably prepositions (Lindner 1982; Brugman 1981). Since one of the earliest claims to be proposed and defended was that most linguistic units are polysemous, there was quite a bit of attention paid from the beginning to how the various meanings of a unit might be related one to another. Metaphor therefore played a crucial role as well from the earliest of these explorations, as did some more traditional semantic fundamentals like the relationship between root and epistemic meaning (cf. Sweetser whose 1990 book was the refinement of her earlier work). The earliest diachronic forays into cognitive linguistics followed rather quickly in the early 1980s.3 During that decade cognitive historical research 3 In the following discussion I use a combination of publication dates and, whenever possible, the date of the conference at which a given presentation was made. The latter is obviously a better date in cases where the same research was first presented orally and then in written form, since what is of interest here is how early diachronic ideas were made public rather than when they were published on paper. This is particularly true for the earliest cognitive conferences where a good per-



might be seen to fall generally into three categories of approaches. Of immediate interest were prototype theory and categorization around prototypes, grasped quite early as a way of discussing the development over time of rather complex units. Geeraerts (1983) and Winters (1987) made similar proposals for how change took place, but, rather than examining lexical data as Geeraerts was doing, Winters made a first attempt at organizing the varying uses of the French subjunctive, both medieval and modern, as prototype categories. Her claim, sketched out in the conference paper first presented in 1985, was that change in meaning (and grammatical meaning) could be analyzed as change both in the configuration of any given radial set and also in the nature of the prototypical meaning itself. Geeraerts was interested, from the earliest of his work, in such questions as well and, additionally, in the interaction of such semantic sets with each other, leading as they did to overlap and some indeterminacy in the choice of lexical items with related meanings. A slightly later discussion of grammatical change and its varying motivations is found in Kemmer (1990) where voice (and particularly the middle) is the semantic focus. A second theme of early cognitive inquiry was the directionality of semantic extension and change. It would not, however, be fair to state that the desire of scholars to go beyond the notion that every word has its own history is an innovation at this time. Pre-structuralist linguists had already posed the question of general directional trends (Geeraerts 1988 explores their work) and this exploration continues to the present (cf. Lehrer 1985 for a modern, noncognitive example). The line between cognitive theory and related approaches is not a clear one. Elizabeth Traugott, for example, while not necessarily identifying herself as fully within the cognitive linguistics movement, published papers on the meaning of adverbs – and their development over time from root to epistemic uses (1982) – as well as other papers on directionality and grammaticalization (1985). Eve Sweetser (1982) also follows in this line of research with an approach to the often studied English conjunctions and modal verbs using the notion of root and epistemic meaning in a cognitive framework. One of her significant contributions in this early work is the proposal of a third category, the “speech act” meaning brought to bear to explicate certain modal and other uses which were neither root nor epistemic, but still clearly meanings of the same modals and conjunctions. A paraphrase of one of her

centage of those exploring the possibilities of the new theory (not a large number at first although it grew quickly) attended the same conferences and became aware of research when it was still unpublished.


Margaret E. Winters

illustrative examples (Sweetser 1990) shows the uses of because in these three different modalities of “causality”: (1)

a. She typed his dissertation because she loves him (root causality expressing an external cause for this action) b. She loves him because she typed his dissertation (epistemic causality expressing the source [or cause] of the speaker’s knowledge that she loves him) c. What are you doing tonight? – because there’s a good movie on (speech act causality expressing why the speaker is asking the question in the first half of the utterance)

Also of importance in the early to mid 1980s was Dirven (1985), addressing specifically the role of metaphor in semantic extensions. The paper provides a typology of domains for extension, ranging from sounds (via sound symbolism) to entire discourse (Orwell’s Animal Farm as an elaborately extended metaphor). Also of note among these early papers is LewandowskaTomaszczyk (1985) which considers a view of semantics where meaning goes beyond truth-conditionality to include the interactional, the affective, and the cognitive. Finally, a new and particularly thought-provoking theme in some of the earliest historical cognitive work consists of explorations of the relationship between synchrony and diachrony.4 Sweetser (1990) approaches this often difficult – and too easily dismissed – topic directly. Her thesis is that, because of the structure of the human mind, we can find the same kinds of directionality of semantic elaboration, often yielding metaphors, both in current English (where, for example, speakers use grasp or – more recently – get in the sense of ‘understand’) and also in the diachronic development of these terms and others. In parallel fashion, Langacker (1987) often hypothesizes on these same relationships, not always in a fully developed exposition, but in notes and short, sometimes sketchy, analyses and musing about how polysemy lends itself to a panchronic approach. One such is his discussion of the development of to go 4

It has been pointed out to me by Dirk Geeraerts (p. c.) that this theme and the immediately preceding one cannot be clearly separated, one from another. It is the case, after all, that the relationship between synchrony and diachrony emerges precisely from the nature of extension. What I find important here, however, is the overt claim (Sweetser 1990 and elsewhere) that synchrony and diachrony interact in intricate ways and that they should be studied together rather than kept distinct as they were – and are – in much of Structuralism and other formal theories.



in English and aller in French where they are similar markers of the future (developed in detail in Langacker 1999). In both cases, the concept of motion expressed in the verbs is still associated with the future marker as well and can be recreated by prompting native speakers, although the ideas of futurity and motion have become otherwise largely distinct. As a result the interrelationship of the spatial and temporal meanings is neither strictly synchronic nor completely diachronic, but the steps which are necessary for a synchronic explanation of this relationship are very much the same ones that can be seen to have occurred diachronically in the development of these future markers. This third area of inquiry is, of course, not clearly to be separated from the questions of directionality that were mentioned above.

2.3. Papers, Publications, and Conferences Before the founding of the International Cognitive Linguistics Association and the first of its biennial meetings in 1989, a certain number of papers were presented at conferences not specifically organized around cognitive approaches. One of the first conferences to include relevant papers took place in Poland in 1984. It was organized around the theme of historical semantics and, more specifically, word formation. Among those to present there and see their papers in print (Fisiak 1985) were Dirk Geeraerts and Barbara LewandowskaTomaszczyk. Most of the other presenters were either semanticists working in other frameworks (Wolfgang Dressler, for example) or more general historical linguists (Charles Li or Dieter Kastovsky). One of the earliest organizations to show interest in this emerging theory through the acceptance of abstracts was the International Conference on Historical Linguistics. In 1985 at least two relevant papers were presented (Winters and Croft et al., both published in the proceedings volume in 1987), while Traugott’s paper (also 1987) was certainly in the spirit of the theory as well. Five years later, in 1990, the Milwaukee Symposium on Historical Linguistics took place. Both Kemmer (published in 1992) and Winters (unpublished) made presentations there in a diachronic cognitive framework, as did several students of Kemmer’s who had participated as a group in a seminar she had given the previous year at the University of California San Diego. Kemmer specifically explored the nature of categories and their extension to grammatical categories (it is here that she cites Ross 1972 as a very early cognitive paper). She argued for prototype-based categories as a better way of defining relationships among meanings than the prevalent Aristotelian model, and suggested an exploration of grammatical categories as parallel to color categories.


Margaret E. Winters

It is my memory that presenters did not feel the need to set out the basic tenets of cognitive linguistics as a theory; enough had circulated by then to allow us an assumption of some basic knowledge on the part of the broader audience of historical linguists who, indeed, confirmed that knowledge through their questions and comments. In 1990, as well, the first conference that one might think of as specific to diachronic cognitive issues was held in Duisburg, Germany. Entitled “Diachrony within Synchrony: Language History and Cognition”, it drew participants who had been developing diachronic theoretical views within cognitive linguistics as well as other historians whose approaches might be thought of as less generative and more functional, or perhaps as not fitting fully into either of these loose but prevalent divisions of linguistic theory. Among those who had by 1990 considered themselves as affiliated with the cognitive enterprise were Dirk Geeraerts, Brigitte Nerlich, Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszcsyk, and Margaret Winters. However the discussion was not just theory-specific. Rather, in tune with the theme of the conference, there was a great deal of exploration of different ways of looking at the interrelation between synchrony and diachrony; I remember in particular a great deal of discussion of Keller’s (1990) use of the concept of the invisible hand to explain the actuation of change.5 Other participants were not cognitivists; of them, two should be mentioned. First, R. Anttila made a presentation in which he set out ways in which cognitive theory follows from a strong Cartesian tradition and is therefore not as new as claimed. This kind of argumentation is, of course, often difficult to refute or fully substantiate given the amount of interpretation needed to establish the parallelism of different approaches, philosophical or linguistic, even when the subject matter of the two theories being compared is the same. The more the objects of analysis diverge, the more tenuous conclusions turn out to be. The importance here, however, is that the cognitive approach was being considered and analyzed by a diachronic linguist who also studied the philosophy and history of linguistics. Secondly, Dieter Kastovsky gave a talk on morphological and typological considerations in changes in English. Kastovsky spoke from the viewpoint of Natural Morphology, a somewhat different approach within the general category of functional linguistics but, one which has been sympathetic to the cognitive enterprise (cf. Dressler 1990; Winters 1994). The final paper was given by Dirk Geeraerts who summed up the state of diachronic cognitive linguistics as it was presented and discussed at the conference. He provided an overview of how the notion of the prototype could be put to use in 5 Winters and Nathan (2000) was initially inspired by this discussion.



diachronic semantics, touching on its attractiveness for linguistic descriptions and for its explanatory force. Of particular interest is his view of the prototype as allowing both for structural stability and flexible extensibility, that is, as furnishing the link between synchrony and diachrony. In the case of this conference, as with others mentioned here, cognitive ideas were considered by the participants in general to be one of many possible approaches to studying semantic change. It is not the intent of this introduction to mention (even if it were possible) every historical paper produced with the growth of cognitive linguistics from around 1990. The theory itself expanded rapidly, both in the number of those for whom it has shaped their views on language (or found compatibility with views they already had) and also in the number of linguistic subfields where the theory has been adapted and applied. Language change has certainly been the focus of some parallel increase in interest as well, but diachronics has nevertheless remained a rather marginal aspect of this theory as it has in linguistics in general. One can attribute it at least in part to the dominance of certain aspects of Chomskyan linguistics; lack of interest in diachronic topics derives especially from the long-held notion that since human beings do not possess knowledge of language history as an aspect of linguistic cognition, the subject takes second place to synchronic studies whatever the theory in which they are undertaken. With the increase in the number and sophistication of kinds of computational support for research, corpus-based studies have become increasingly popular, but even there too the tendency has been to look principally at corpora of modern language to elucidate variation. Here we might posit the influence of sociolinguistics, another area to grow widely during the 1980’s and 1990’s, as well as the relative absence of diachronic data. The result of this comparative lack of interest in diachrony is reflected by and large in cognitive linguistics. Rather than historical studies, what most linguists find interesting within the framework is that it has thrown new light on synchronic themes such as the semantics of grammatical constructions, while also turning to phonological studies, and continuing explorations into lexical semantics. Dissertations in these areas have appeared, written by students of the first generation of cognitivists who in turn finished their degrees and became active in the field. There has also been an expansion within the framework into language acquisition and second language learning, literary semantics, and a number of approaches to the psychological underpinnings of language perception and production. Publication, not surprisingly, started somewhat slowly, although Metaphors We Live By (Lakoff and Johnson 1980) was an early and highly influential volume. A series of new books, all published in 1987, might be said to have


Margaret E. Winters

changed the landscape of cognitive linguistics; in that same year Ronald Langacker, George Lakoff, and Mark Johnson all saw major books appear. In 1990, the first issue of the journal Cognitive Linguistics appeared. Individual publications grew during the late 1980s as well, including proceedings volumes from the early International Cognitive Linguistics Association meetings. On the European side, Geeraerts (1983) was, to the best of my knowledge, the – or one of the – earliest work in English. For a very informal and totally unscientific survey of publications, I went through the tables of contents of two journals, one dedicated to the linguistic subfield of historical linguistics (Diachronica) and the other to the theory of cognitive linguistics (Cognitive Linguistics). Diachronica, which is one of the most widely read journals dedicated to studies of language change, publishes articles based in a wide variety of theories. Since its founding there have been two articles in a cognitive framework, one by Margaret Winters (1987) on the history of French negation and the other by Janice Aski (2001) on prototype categories and phonological split. In addition there have been reviews of explicitly cognitive volumes, one of Laura Janda’s 1996 book (reviewed by Raimo Anttila 1997) and the other (2003 by Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy) of William Croft (2002).6 As the title implies, Cognitive Linguistics is the principle journal dedicated to this specific framework and publishes articles based in a wide variety of approaches to the study of language, synchronic and diachronic. Since 1994 it has published, by my count, six diachronic articles (Bybee 1994; Rohdenburg 1996; Ziegler 1997; Winters 1997; Györi 2002; and Ziegler 2004). With Bybee’s article on phonology and Winters’s on analogical change, the other four have been on the semantics of grammar and grammaticalization. There have, in addition, been a few reviews of historical works. As another sign of growing interest in cognitive linguistics, the International Cognitive Linguistics Association was founded in the late 1980s and held its first conference, in Duisburg, Germany, in 1989. Conferences have taken place every two years since, with an ever-expanding number of participants (about 70 at the first conference and almost 500 in Krakow, 2007). The range of linguistic themes has increased as well from each one to the next, a clear reflection of the expansion in the influence of the theory. There have never been, however, many diachronic papers, neither in regular sessions nor in the increasing number of special topic – or theme – sessions.7 This is not to say that diachrony was totally absent but, while there were a few diachronic papers at every confer6 7

Neither reviewer identifies himself as working within Cognitive Linguistics. At the second ICLA conference (Santa Cruz, California 1991; proceedings Casad 1996) two papers out of nearly 30 addressed language change directly (Györi and



ence, I do not remember any specified subsection of the general session or any theme sessions devoted to this approach until the conference that has given rise to this volume. Two conferences with historical focus should be recalled here. The first, Diachrony in Synchrony (Duisburg 1990), has already been discussed. The second symposium, called Historical Semantics and Cognition, took place several years later (Berlin 1996) and once again addressed the relationship between synchrony and diachrony. The organizers made a conscious attempt as well, through the invitation of both European and American speakers, to create a trans-Atlantic dialogue, but found that the “expected synergetic effects were perhaps not as intensive as we had hoped” (1999: v). Like the Duisburg conference, this one brought together established cognitive linguists (Geeraerts, Langacker, and the co-editors Andreas Blank and Peter Koch) with others who are perhaps better seen as sympathetic, but do not do all their research in a cognitive framework, like Elisabeth Traugott, Brigitte Nerlich and David Clarke. The papers approached the interaction of synchrony and diachrony from various directions. They included rather abstract discussions; for example both Langacker and Traugott questioned the degree to which lines of historical development and of synchronic relatedness are truly parallel in their directionality. Both papers concluded that the strict parallelism is not necessarily present in all cases, with the result that historical precedence does not always lead to perception of the same order of synchronic basic and extended meaning. At the other end of the scale of abstractness there were, in addition, several dataoriented case studies, one a lexical study of the evolution of body part names from Latin and other sources in Romance (Thomas Krefeld) and another, leaning more toward the grammatical, on the semantics of have and be in a range of languages (Peter Koch). The attraction of cognitive linguistic theory was clear from the beginning to those working in the history of language or of specific languages. As was said above, however, there was not, in the 1990s – that is, the period of most noticeable growth for the theory – a great deal of interest in language change per se. As a result, although language historians were turning to cognitive approaches, there simply were not very many of us. This is not to say, however, that diachronic matters never came up in other ways, either related to specific matters of change (but not looking broadly at change itself) or through semantic analyses which did not make specifically cognitive claims. One of the most obvious connections was to the growing area of research into grammaticalization; Ravid) while two others (Janda and Kemmer & Schylkrot) had some diachronic discussion in what were otherwise generally synchronic papers.


Margaret E. Winters

here the notion of semantic extension was put to work, explicitly or not, in the description of the development of grammatical particles and affixes from independent morphemes (for example, Britten 1990). There also began to be connections made between cognitive theory and typology (Croft 1990) and with corpus-based linguistics (Schönefeld 1999), that is, areas with a relationship to diachronics without necessarily being diachronic themselves. Typology, on the one hand, can be looked at both diachronically and synchronically; it can be thought of as an area where the line between the two is almost necessarily blurred. At the same time it addresses broadly the existence of grammatical features and their relationship to each other, another part of the research program which would attract cognitive approaches. Corpora, on the other hand, serve as the basis of many kinds of investigation and find their affinity with cognitive theory in the openness of this theory to real-life, “messy” data. Both grammaticalization research and work in typology have served to shed light on both diachronic theory and on cognitive semantics. Other approaches as well demonstrate the interconnectedness of synchrony and diachrony and, at the same time, point up the necessity of opening cognitive linguistics to wider diachronic studies. One of these might be called cultural variation, the study of human behavior and its linguistic expression as depending on the wider context; Geeraerts and Grondelaers (1995), for example, questions the universality of such metaphors as anger as heat by suggesting that they are culturally transmitted. Also variationist in its approach is what can be thought of as cognitive sociolinguistics (Kristiansen and Dirven 2008 and the papers contained in this volume). Variation has long been recognized as the basis for the spread of change (Weinreich et al. 1968 is the foundational paper) and again bridges synchrony and diachrony in important ways. While virtually all aspects of language are now being looked at through cognitive linguistics, meaning continues to be a (or perhaps the) central concern of the theory. The radially configured semantic set (Lakoff 1987: 83–84 and passim) remains a point of departure, and both lexical and grammatical units have been analyzed as to both their relationship to the prototype and to each other. Since metaphor is the primary (although not sole) source of extension of items within the set, a natural extension of the field has been to the diachronic inquiry into the birth of metaphors and, at the other end of their lifespan (a metaphor in itself), the nature of so-called “dead” metaphors. As a subcategory, the expression of emotion and its development/disappearance have figured in recent diachronic work (two comparatively early instances are Fabiszak 2001 and Tissari 2003).



3. Cognitive linguistics and diachronic theory The discussion thus far has dealt with the development of diachronic cognitive linguistics, the aspects of it that first caught the attention of researchers and the development of this historical subfield in the early days of the broader theory. The remaining sections of the paper will be devoted to the present – and perhaps future – of these areas of investigation. More specifically, it will consist of an overview of the papers in the volume, with some comments about how they may be either continuing the development of the various strands of inquiry already mentioned or else extending the investigation of language change in new directions. In many instances, of course, these two possibilities – continuation and extension – are not mutually exclusive. Before turning to this preview of the rest of the volume, it is worth pausing for a few moments to talk more broadly about the intersection of cognitive linguistics with the development of linguistic theories of historical change. A large part of the research in cognitive historical linguistics has followed, in a certain broad sense, the lead of other frameworks; here as in other cases, entities which were first posited synchronically are looked at in terms of how they might have changed over time: emerging, being modified, or disappearing. A clear example of this pattern can be seen in early diachronic work within the framework of a relatively early version of generative grammar (for an overview, see King 1969). Since in this formulation grammar consisted of underlying forms (the deep structure) and transformations or rules, change takes place generally through the addition, loss, or reordering of these transformational rules with eventual permanent reshaping, across generations, of the underlying forms in deep structure. A more modern formal example of the same general approach is the notion of change within Optimality Theory. Here the reordering of constraints results in the identification of a different “best candidate” among the infinitude of candidates as the outcome of each process (Jacobs 1995). In both these cases and, as we will see, in cognitive theory as well, entities in the synchronic description of language (transformations, optimality-theoretic constraints) constitute the engines of language change. The relationship is causal: it is because these specific entities change that wider language change occurs. While this is a very brief (almost disrespectfully brief) summary of what is considered change, it points up the all too easy use of description within a theory to take the place of cause. Cognitive explorations have often taken the same general path. The entities here are, of course, the internal components of the radially configured semantic set – the prototype and extensions at varying distances from the prototype – and the set itself. Change has been characterized as movement of vari-


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ous extensions within the set into and out of sets or nearer to or farther from the prototype. There are also changes that come from the interaction of sets with each other: overlap, merger (partial or complete), or the split of one set into two or more (Winters 1992). A final locus of change is in the connections which link extensions to the prototype and to each other. Here too change is change in the expression of these connections, often metaphors or metonymies (Sweetser 1990 is one of the first to discuss this diachronic point at length although Dirven 1985 provides a panchronic typology of extension types). All of these entities, sets, prototypes, extensions and the lines of connection among them, can be described as evolving from one state (using the term very informally) to another across time. There is, however, little light shed on what change really consists of and, like the transformations and constraints of other theories, the realignment of semantic sets and their internal configurations are more accurately to be viewed as the results of change rather than the cause. In order to identify what cognitive linguistics has contributed to broader theories of change, we need to look beyond the purely linguistic to the cognitive. The major claim of Lakoff’s work (1987 in an elaborated statement) is that the cognitive phenomenon of categorization is key to how language is understood and produced. Most of the conclusions which have been drawn about cognitive function are completely synchronic, in part because all experimentation with speakers is carried out necessarily on contemporary forms of language and in part because the relationship between language and the brain is investigated in the great majority of instances by researchers who are not historians. Probably more important, however, is the fact that most if not all brain structure has been invariant over even the most extensive span of time considered in diachronic linguistics (to the extent that time depth can be accurately established), in fact since the evolution of other related species into homo sapiens. As a result of this pervasive cognitive invariance, we must proceed with caution in exploring how to characterize language change in its relationship to cognitive processing. As far as we can tell through what direct evidence exists and through the judicious use of the uniformitarian hypothesis, humanity categorizes today as we have always categorized, in both linguistic and non-linguistic matters. The same dilemma prevails if we look not just at the process of categorization, but at the ways in which human beings populate and arrange categories around degrees of proximity to the prototypical member(s) of the category. Recent work has centered on the notion of emergence, that is the way in which understanding arises through the assignment of units to categories, not through specific pre-existent mental structures, but by continuous application of these processes. Conventionalization may at times be the ultimate result of repeated assignment for some specific community of speakers, but this is secondary



to on-going (emergent) determination of meaning. The frequency with which language users encounter meanings is paramount in the way these meanings are structured within categories (work by Bybee including 2007 explicates in detail the idea of emergence and its cognitive role). Clearly the recognition of frequency as a clue to emergent structure is a primary cognitive function in children’s acquisition of a first language, but also plays a salient role in the interaction of any language user at any degree of linguistic maturity with any unit (lexical or grammatical of any size) which s/he must understand and may choose to use. As with categorization itself, emergence is built into linguistic and non-linguistic processing and production and has not changed over time as a human strategy. However, what is categorized and into what categories may indeed change over time, based in part on what may at a certain moment be of high enough frequency to motivate the emergence of meaning and structure.8 It is here, I believe, that we find the first and most important part of the answer to the question of cognitive linguistics’s broader interaction with diachronic theory. Cognitive linguistics brings a strong sense of psychological reality to historical studies precisely both by calling attention to categorization, that part of cognitive function where change can indeed be measured, and also by relating it to both the linguistic and non-linguistic behavior of human beings. Work cited above (for example Geeraerts 1983; Winters 1992) demonstrates how changes can be seen within this kind of cognitive framework. The conclusions drawn in Winters (1992) and other papers at the time, however, were only indirectly cognitive in this respect, since the goal was to characterize change in each case in terms of theoretical entities which were already established. In retrospect, however, and in light of more recent work, we can go further: if categorization is a process engaged in universally (over time as well as over space) and categories can be considered mental structures (cf., saliently, Lakoff 1987; Fauconnier 1994; Wanner 2006), then the locus of language change lies within and across cognitive categories. That being said, Geeraerts can talk with psychological plausibility about merging and splitting categories, Winters about changes in prototypes, changes in membership of categories, and the relative distance of the extensions from the prototype, and Bybee (2007) about how changes in the frequency of expressions interacts with dynamic mental categories. Because cognitive linguistics is so strongly 8 It seems increasingly clear that frequency alone is not the motivating factor for change, since frequency is rather the result of some other phenomenon. I would suggest that salience is more basic, but this discussion goes beyond the scope of the present paper.


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psychologically real, claims of these kinds are not only descriptively useful, but anchor language change in cognition. Viewing cognitive function as essential to language prepares the way for an important further step in diachronic theory, a way of relating synchrony and diachrony which goes beyond a simple list of changes to a unified theory of language. Recognition of the centrality of cognition is an important component of this insight. It provides strong evidence for a non-modular and, in many ways, atemporal view of language. Categorization and recategorization underlie variation and therefore the actuation of change, while recent views on frequency of usage have shed light on acquisition, the link between social factors such as prestige and variation, and, diachronically, the spread of change; Bybee (2007) provides an overview. What is most important here is, again, that these cognitive functions go beyond language itself and in doing so provide an extra-linguistic framework for explaining diachrony, a perspective that is usually lacking because work on language history has traditionally remained enmeshed in the linguistic and the social. A final way in which cognitive linguistics might be said to contribute to theories of language change has to do again with the nature of human cognition. In this case, the insights have to do not so much with the content of categories or their internal or external relationships, but rather with the manner in which they are constructed. Most of the ways in which the connections among units within a radial set develop derive from mental transformations or leaps of various kinds: comparison (metaphor), viewing the part as representing the whole (metonymy), and others (among them, image schema transformations [Lakoff 1987: 440–444]). Any of these, often unexpected and – at first – novel ways of seeing relationships, can motivate extensions from the prototype outward in a semantic set or inward from outside the set toward the center. These changes can all be viewed as resulting from variations on analogical (or abductive; cf. Andersen 1973) thinking, that is, precisely, this mental leap or transformation, not via syllogistic inductive or deductive reasoning, but rather through such comparatively low-level mental operations as juxtaposition and comparison (Winters 1997; Wanner 2006). Analogical thinking, then, as it is defined in a broad sense both as extension and also as leveling, becomes crucially important under this view of language change. Its importance is that it results in the expansion of categories, either within the category or through the development of new ones, in the child or even the adult speaker/hearer. It is these associations which, over time, become the driving force behind diachronic shifts. Among other consequences of viewing this cognitive process as central, in fact, is the very necessity of seeing language change as taking place within the purview of both children



acquiring language and also of adult speaker/hearers; analogically based comparisons and extensions occur to language users at all stages of development including in the mature speaker’s production. Whether any one analogical leap, expressed as a leveled paradigm or a semantic extension in the form of a new metaphor, might lead to permanent change is a function of the complex of other linguistic and social circumstances in relation to which the new form or meaning was uttered and heard. We cannot neglect any of these factors in analyzing change, but fundamental to a great deal of change is this basic cognitive process of analogical thinking (Wanner 2006 is an extended study of this notion). To summarize this section, then, I would argue that cognitive linguistics has made substantive contributions to diachronics, going beyond theory-internal specific analyses. If the claims of cognitive theory are correct (and there is mounting evidence that they are well on the way toward shedding greater light on connections between the human mind and human language production and perception), then students of language change are at a point of being able to take into account in a much more direct way what is happening in the mind of speakers rather than being limited (although the results of these analyses are important too) to what has changed in the structure and meaning of language as a quasi-independent entity. This is not to say that bringing mental activity to explanation in diachronic linguistics started with modern cognitive approaches; on the contrary there have been and continue to be other “mentalist” approaches (this was also a major point of Kiparsky’s 1968 classic “How abstract is phonology?” as well as King 1969; Jacobs 1995).9 What is different here are the claims of non-modularity (the cognitive functions described as part of linguistic activity are also part of non-linguistic interaction with the physical and mental world) and the ways in which synchronic language use and language change connect, not just in the spread of change (delineated most prominently via social criteria in Weinreich et al. 1968) but also in actuation.


In a paper presented at the International Cognitive Linguistics meeting in Santa Barbara (Winters 2001), it was suggested, for example, that the so-called infinitude of candidates in Optimality Theory would best be understood rather as a cline from the most to the least prototypical solutions to interacting constraints. It was not necessary, then, to claim that the number of candidates was infinite, but rather that the human mind could judge degrees of prototypicality and make decisions on the “best” solution to competing possibilities. This was an attempt to demonstrate that cognitive findings had the potential to transcend theoretical boundaries and be applied within other, generally unrelated approaches to language.


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4. Overview of the present volume The papers in the present volume examine and expand on many of the themes discussed above. In the last section of this Introduction they will be briefly presented, with a word or two on their content but, more importantly, with a view of how they fit into and interact with the aspects of cognitive linguistics laid out above. Of greatest importance is the relationship between language and mind as envisioned in this framework and how cognitive theory may blur the lines between synchrony and diachrony. The volume is arranged in five sections, admittedly loose groupings of diachronic themes, ranging from papers on the development of this very point of convergence of historical linguistics and cognitive semantics (the present paper) and language evolution (Frank & Gontier; Sylvester; Mulsolff), to more specific analyses of syntactic change (Luraghi; Heyvaert & Cuyckens), of semantic change (Allan), and the expression of emotions over time (Trim; Fabiszak & Hebda; Tissari). An Afterword by Dirk Geeraerts looks forward to the potential for historical cognitive linguistics to extend further, with the consequent enrichment of both diachronic linguistics in general and what we might call panchronic cognitive linguistics. The section on evolution and change looks at language history from the point of view of analytic techniques as well as the results of analysis. Roslyn Frank and Nathalie Gontier (“On Reconstructing a Research Model for Historical Cognitive Linguistics [HCL]: Some Theoretical Considerations”) present a discussion of the methodology of Complex Adaptive Systems, coming from the Biological Sciences and its potential for shedding light on human linguistic behavior in shorter time periods. This approach lends itself to interaction with the notion of emergence and also tends toward a panchronic viewpoint as well as looking at language use in specific temporal and social settings, another theme central to cognitive linguistics. Louise Sylvester, more specifically again, is interested in the individual’s mind, centering her paper (“The roles of reader construal and lexicographic authority in the interpretation of Middle English texts”) on how meaning is calculated when one has the resources of dictionaries of older varieties as well as one’s mental constructions. Language change, therefore, as understood by individuals, is change in conceptual structure as well as being linguistic. Finally in this area, Andreas Musolff (“Metaphor in discourse history”) looks at the evolution of a class of conceptual metaphors (state/society as a body), again showing the strength of panchronic analysis. Studies of syntax change are relatively rare whatever the theoretical framework, although not as rare as they were in the past. Two papers here undertake analyses of grammar change, in both cases adopting the now well-established



cognitive linguistic point of view (cf. Langacker 1987 for an early expression of it) that syntax is symbolic of meaning and that, therefore, grammar change is a special form of semantic development. Both Silvia Luraghi (“Where do beneficiaries come from and how do they come about? Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek and the typology of beneficiary”) and Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens (“Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English: Semantics, variation and change”) explore the interaction of the conceptual and the purely linguistic, the former in a paper on beneficiary expressions in Greek and the latter in the development of clausal complements in English. Heyvaert and Cuyckens, like Allan, consider as well questions of directionality, a diachronic issue which is addressed in a wide number of theories. They return as well to one of the formative topics of cognitive linguistics, the meaningfulness of grammatico-lexical items and phrases which are considered purely syntactic in other approaches. The section on the lexicon and semantic change contains one paper, although one could argue that semantic change writ large pervades the volume. Kathryn Allan (“Tracing metonymic polysemy through time: material for object mappings in the OED”) looks at metonymy (in particular the well-exemplified material for object) to consider the question of whether metonymies persist over time or whether they are recreated in every generation of speakers. Her topic, then, is again the blurring of synchrony and diachrony; she also touches on other historical and cognitive issues, specifically directionality of change and the line – if there is a clear one – between metaphor and metonymy, respectively. The last section transcends from a certain point of view the purely linguistic nature of the volume since it deals with the expression of emotion (cf. Lakoff 1987, an early example of this kind of undertaking, where anger and its expression are looked at in detail). Richard Trim’s focus is the development of English metaphors pertaining to love (“Conceptual networking theory in metaphor evolution: Diachronic variation in models of love”); he calls upon both conceptual networks and the time-specific setting of linguistic use in his discussion. Like Allan, he also explores the notion of salience as an indicator of likelihood for change; this notion and frequency (Bybee 2007) should be seen to complement rather than compete with each other in explanations of change. The last two papers, by Małgorzata Fabiszak and Anna Hebda (“Cognitive historical approaches to emotions: Pride”) and by Heli Tissari (“English words for emotions and their metaphors”) add one more dimension to the breadth of approaches in that they both use corpora as sources of data. As was said above, this is a fast-growing aspect of cognitive research, both synchronic and diachronic. Fabiszak and Hebda discuss the concept of pride, again situating the


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expression of emotion in its socio-temporal setting. Tissari looks more broadly at the expression of emotional states in English across time, comparing positive and negative emotions and the metaphors used to articulate them.

5. Conclusions The above discussion serves to demonstrate several things: first, language change has been a topic of interest within the cognitive framework from the early years of the development of this theory. At the beginning it took proposals first set forth synchronically and showed how they could be adapted to diachronic study. In time, however, historical cognitive linguistics has expanded its scope, and not just parallel to synchronic developments, in moving from lexical meaning to the semantics of grammar and from intuitions about data to wider corpus studies. A second major point is precisely that: it has, through its increasingly panchronic viewpoint (although this stance is already delineated as early as Sweetser 1990), been able to contribute more directly to the development of synchronic studies. The papers in this volume, then, look backwards to the first insights of cognitive linguistics (essential meaningfulness of all units and the pervasiveness of metaphor) and look forward as well, to a richer understanding of the relationship between concept and linguistic expression and of the tension between universal, panchronic cognitive phenomena and the role of specific time and place, and hence situated variation, within diachrony.

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Ross, John Robert 1972 The category squish: Endstation Hauptwort. Chicago Linguistics Society 8: 316–328. Schönefeld, Doris 1999 Corpus linguistics and cognitivism. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 4(1): 137–169. Sweetser, Eve 1982 Root and epistemic modals: Causality in two worlds. Berkeley Linguistics Society 9: 484–507. Sweetser, Eve 1990 From Etymology to Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tissari, Heli LOVEscapes: Changes in Prototypical Senses and Cognitive Metaphors 2003 Since 1500. (Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki LXII.) Helsinki: Société Philologique. Traugott, Elizabeth Closs 1982 From propositional to textual and expressive meanings: Some semanticpragmatic aspects of grammaticalization. In: Winfred P. Lehmann and Yaakov Malkiel (eds.), Directions for Historical Linguistics: A Symposium, 245–271. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Traugott, Elizabeth Closs 1985 On regularity in semantic change. Journal of Literary Semantics  14: 155–173. Traugott, Elizabeth Closs 1999 The rhetoric of counter-expectation in semantic change: A study of subjectification. In: Andreas Blank and Peter Koch (eds.), Historical Semantics and Cognition, 177–196. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Traugott, Elizabeth Closs and Richard Dasher 1987 On the historical relation between mental and speech act verbs in English and Japanese. In: Anna G. Ramat, Onofrio Carruba, and Giuliano Bernini (eds.), Papers from the VIIth International Conference on Historical Linguistics (Pavia, 9–13 September 1985), 561–573. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Wanner, Dieter 2006 The Power of Analogy: An Essay on Historical Linguistics. (Trends in Linguistics, Studies and Monographs, 170.) Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Weinreich, Uriel, William Labov and Marvin Herzog 1968 Empirical foundations for a theory of language change. In: Winfred P. Lehmann and Yaakov Malkiel (eds.), Directions for Historical Linguistics: A Symposium, 95–198. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Winters, Margaret E. 1987 Syntactic and semantic space: The development of the French subjunctive. In: Anna G. Ramat, Onofrio Carruba and Giuliano Bernini (eds.),



Papers from the VIIth International Conference on Historical Linguistics (Pavia, 9–13 September 1985), 407–418. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Winters, Margaret E. 1992 Schemas and prototypes: Remarks on syntax change. In: Gunter Kellermann and Michael D. Morrissey (eds.), Diachrony Within Synchrony: Language History and Cognition, 265–280. (Duisburger Arbeiten zur Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaft, 14.) Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Winters, Margaret E. 1994 Diachronic natural morphology and cognitive grammar. In: Wolfgang U. Dressler and Livia Tonelli (eds.), Papers in Natural Morphology from Krems 1992, 169–178. Padova: Unipress. Winters, Margaret E. 1997 Kuryłowicz, analogical change, and cognitive grammar. Cognitive Linguistics 8: 359–386. Winters, Margaret E. Ms. On the origins of cognitive grammar. Winters, Margaret E. and Geoffrey Nathan 2000 Bringing the invisible hand to cognitive grammar. In: John Charles Smith and Delia Bentley (eds.), Historical Linguistics 1995, Vol.  I: General Issues and Non-Germanic Languages, 409–422. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

2. The Evolution of Language

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics (HCL): Some theoretical considerations Roslyn M. Frank and Nathalie Gontier

Abstract This paper examines how historical cognitive linguistics can benefit methodologically through the application of the notion of language as a complex adaptive system. The idea that languages are complex adaptive systems (CAS) was introduced initially in computational evolutionary linguistics, a discipline that was and remains inspired by biological, systems theoretical approaches to the evolution of life. Here the way that the CAS approach serves to replace older historical linguistic notions of languages as organisms and languages as species is explained as well as how the CAS approach can be generalized to encompass linguistic domains. Specifically, an overview of the CAS approach and its implementation in linguistics is provided with an emphasis on stigmergic, embodied, usage-based and socio-culturally situated language studies in particular. Scientific revolutions are, in fact, metaphoric revolutions, and theoretical models should be seen as metaphoric redescriptions of the domain of phenomena. (Arbid and Hesse 1986: 156) Languages meander like great rivers leaving oxbow traces over forgotten beds, to be seen only from the air or by scholars. Language is like some infinitely inter-fertile family of species spreading or mysteriously declining over time, shamelessly and endlessly hybridizing, changing its own rules as it goes. Words are used as signs, as stand-ins, arbitrary and temporary, even as language reflects (and informs) the shifting values of the peoples whose minds it inhabits and glides through. We have faith in ‘meaning’ like we might believe in wolverines – putting trust in the occasional reports of others, or on the authority of once seeing a pelt. But it is sometimes worth tracking this trickster back. (Snyder 1992: 24–25)

1. Introduction Our paper begins by focusing on theoretical issues relating to 19th and 20th century conceptual cross-fertilization between linguistics and evolutionary bi-


Roslyn M. Frank and Nathalie Gontier

ology, namely, the way that aspects of research models utilized by the natural sciences, most particularly biology, have intersected with theories of language evolution, and hence, the manner in which the traditional research paradigm of historical linguistics was constructed in terms of the way that “language” was conceptualized (Bugarski 1999; Frank 2008b; Janda and Joseph 2003). Most particularly, we examine the three points of intersection. First, we will look at the analogy of “language” as an “organism”; second, we will explore the way that “language” came to be viewed simultaneously as an “organism” and “species”; and third, we will conclude by taking up the most recent position that views “language” as a “complex adaptive system”. Initially, we provide a brief review of the way these disciplinary interactions have shaped how we think about “language” and by implication the role played by these conceptualizations of the phenomenon of “language” in historical linguistics, including the heuristic applications of evolutionary biological thinking to linguistics, and to the nature of variation and language change (Croft 2000, 2002; Mufwene 2001, 2005). Finally, in this first section we introduce the “complex adaptive system” (CAS) approach (cf. Lansing 2003), a framework currently gaining ground in the theoretical discourse of genomics as well as many other fields. In the next section of the paper we turn our attention to the question of how those of us interested in constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics (henceforth HCL) might profit from recognizing the remarkable conceptual connections holding between these allied disciplines and our own concerns with language change. By gaining a better understanding of the way that metaphors/analogies have flowed back and forth, heuristically, across disciplinary boundaries, specifically between biology and linguistics, we will be able to appreciate better how the phenomena under analysis in each field have undergone modification over time, e. g., how “language” first was analogized to an “organism”, later on compared to a “species” (Gontier 2006a, b, 2008) and how it has come to be viewed as “activity-process” (Frank 2008b). Finally we address the contributions that HCL might make to research currently being carried out in related disciplines concerned with the evolution of language and culture, if HCL were to frame its findings in more cross-disciplinarily recognized terminology and adopt the more inter-disciplinary theoretical approach of CAS, given that the latter is recognized across a number of allied disciplines. In short, we will outline the advantages that this framework might have as we begin the joint task of developing a research model and methodology for use in HCL.

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


2. Three stages of analogical intersections In order to better address the theoretical aspects of our research framework, one of the first questions that we need to formulate concerns the nature of “language” itself, more specifically, how we conceptualize the object of our research: What is “language”? As Steels (1999: 143) has pointed out: “[For some time now] linguists have been trying to pin down what kind of object […] language is, but this has turned out to be far from obvious.” Moreover, we might ask whether that question itself is properly formulated; whether it would not be better to ask “What type of activity language is” instead of “What type of object language is?” The reformulation of this question will help us to come up with a systems approach to its answer. Before entering into a more detailed discussion of this issue and its relationship to the way we think about language, in this section we will briefly review the impact of evolutionary biological thinking and the analogical transference of some of the concepts from this field to the field of linguistics. Evolutionary biology has inspired the conceptualization of language in three different ways which can be characterized as three basic tropes. They can be expressed as falling into three stages, each of which corresponds to particular developments in the field of biology: 1) language understood as an organism; 2) language viewed as a species and; 3) language considered as a complex adaptive system. Quite obviously this summary requires us to generalize somewhat concerning these modes of thinking about language. If examined with a greater granularity each stage would demonstrate more variation, that is, in terms of the emphasis and focus each conceptualization received from their respective proponents (and critics) (Morpurgo-Davies 1992: 83–97).

2.1. Stage 1: Language as an organism In the 18th and 19th centuries in biology we find both Lamarckian (Lamarck [1809] 1999) and Social Darwinian models (e. g., Darwin 1871; Spencer [1879] 1978). Both of these models focus on the individual organism and how it relates to other organisms and the environment through competition for resources. The model was constructed through recourse to the dominant “organic” or “organicism” root metaphor of the epoch (Pepper 1942). As a result, focus was on an essentialist, internalized law-governed orthogenesis of the organism. Inspired by these evolutionary ideas, linguists regularly viewed languages as bounded “living beings”. The model was one characterized by Linnaean typological and genealogical categorization models with vertical (tree-branching) axis.


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During this period we find the consolidation of the “language-as-organism” trope which was linked to essentialist, typological thinking about the nature of language (Alter 1999; Frank 2008b; Morpurgo-Davies 1992; Richards 2002). We also discover the existence of loose analogical equivalencies between the concepts of “language(s)”, “species”, “races”, and “ethnicities”. These resulted in a blend consisting of the equation of “language” to the concepts of “species” and “race”, “race” being a concept that was often synonymous with “ethnicity”, whereas “species” was viewed in essentialist terms as a type rather than more broadly as a population of individuals. The “species: race” equivalency dates back to the latter half of the 19th century. It was in this period that the earlier 18th and 19th century “language-as-organism” metaphor got caught up in the “species: race” equivalency, fostered by the racial anthropology which was rapidly gaining ascendency alongside its ideological counterpart of Social Darwinism. The conflation of “species” with “race” was facilitated by the fact that the term “race” was often used in biology as an equivalent to “species” (Frank 2008b). Only later did the word “race” acquire its current 20th century meaning in English, i. e., “a local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics” (Morris 1969). Over the course of the 19th century there was a tendency for “language” to be viewed as a “living being” while language “families” were identified with human collectives to such a point that in linguistics terms for languages, races and species became equivalent and were often used interchangeably. But at the same time biology was being inspired by linguistics. During his voyage with the Beagle, Darwin read the linguistic works of von Humboldt, which helped him think about how species interrelate with one another. Tree models, nowadays a common way to depict genealogical and historical relations between species and languages, were first drawn both by Darwin (1859) and Schleicher (1853, 1863). Schleicher argued that languages, like organisms, compete with one another, come into being and die. His linguistic tree models of the IndoEuropean language family would eventually inspire the taxonomist Haeckel to draw the first non-hypothetical “tree of life”, ideas that would again inspire Darwin (Richards 1987: 200–206). In fact, Darwin would take language evolution to be an exemplar for the evolution of species, while linguists such as Schleicher would use the evolution of species to demonstrate that languages are similar to species (Hull 2002). In this way, genealogical tree models of language relatedness replicated, conceptually speaking, the hierarchy of nature: phyla ĺ classes ĺ orders ĺ genera ĺ families ĺ species ĺ organisms

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


For example, we find Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829) stating: “We give the name genus [genera] to the groups of races, called species, brought together following a consideration of their interconnections […] all the races (what are called the species) which belong to a kingdom of living creatures” (Lamarck [1809] 1999). In short, in the writings of 18th and 19th century biologists race and species were commonly used as synonyms. It would not be until nearly a century later that the English term “race” would acquire its more narrow modern meaning.1 Even at the time that Charles Darwin (1809–1882) was composing his major opus, the older equivalency was still operating. In contrast, today most readers misconstrue the meaning of the latter half of the full title of his work: On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859). The second half of the title shows that Darwin was merely talking about “races” of pigeons, among other things. In addition, we may cite Schleicher’s equivalencies. Clearly influenced by Linnaeus’ taxonomy as well as by Darwin’s 1859 work, Schleicher in his Die Darwinishche Theorie und die Sprachwissenschaft [Darwinian Theory and the Science of Language] (1863) explicitly equates language families with genera, languages with species, dialects with races, and idiolects with individual organisms (McMahon 1994: 319; Richards 2002).2

Under “race” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language lists the following entries, which reflect the semantic shift that has taken place in the term’s core meanings since the mid-19th century. At that point in time what are today the fourth, fifth and sixth entries of the following definition would have been among the first to come to mind: “1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics; 2. Mankind as a whole; 3. Any group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality or geographical distribution; 4. A genealogical line, lineage, family; 5. Any group of people more or less distinct from all others, the race of statesmen; 6. Biology a. a plant or animal population that differs from others of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits, subspecies; b. a breed or strain of domestic animals” (Morris 1969: 1074–1075). An even greater appreciation of the depth of these shifting currents can be gained by consulting the relevant entries in the Oxford English Dictionary. 2 A few years later this essay was translated into English and published, in 1869, under the title of Darwinism Tested by the Science of Language (1869). 1


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2.2. Stage 2: Language as species In the first half of the 20th century we encounter the emergence of the Modern Synthesis and the development of population genetics wherein evolution is mathematically modeled (Mayr 1975). Over time, progress in the field of population genetics would come to influence the field of linguistics and would eventually give rise to the “language-as-species” trope we have today where “species” is understood in its modern, biological sense.3 Indeed, by 2000, we find this new type of population thinking and concept of “language-as-species” being applied to modeling language, as exemplified by the research on this topic by Croft (2000) and Mufwene (2001). At this point language is defined as “a population of utterances”. Hence, we discover a shift in emphasis. In the case of the older “language-as-organism” trope, focus was on global level structure and internal agency; language was viewed as a closed, bounded and finely balanced object. In contrast, at the end of the 20th century when the “language-as-species” trope comes on the scene, we find increasing emphasis being placed on local level structure and external agency: language usage. Moreover, language comes to be viewed more and more as an open, unbounded and constantly changing object. Nonetheless, from this perspective language still is conceptualized primarily as an object, albeit a highly mutable one, rather than as activity.

2.3. Stage 3: Language as a complex adaptive system Although many instances of system-based thinking can already be found that precede Bertalanffy’s (1950) famous article on general systems theory, the latter biologist is mostly regarded as the founder of biological systems theory. Biological systems theory would inspire anthropologists (e. g., Gregory Bateson 1972) as well as sociologists (e. g., Nicholas Luhmann 1984). Typical for systems theory is that it studies biological organisms or cultures as dynamic systems, characterized by the capacity to self-organize and maintain themselves over long periods of time. Nonlinear dynamical systems theory also inspired a new formulation of language: the “language-as-complex-adaptivesystem” (CAS) trope. Indeed, the study of complex adaptive systems, a subset 3

As was pointed out in the previous section, the terms “species” and “races” used to be synonymous. Furthermore, especially in Scholastic philosophical discussions of this topic, “species” was a concept used to refer to (essential, bounded) types (Wilkins 2003).

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


of nonlinear dynamical systems, has become a major focus of interdisciplinary research in the social and natural sciences and more recently in “evolutionary linguistics” (cf. Lansing 2003; Sole et al. 2005; Steels 2000).

3. An overview of the complex adaptive systems approach and its implementation in linguistics 3.1. General features of a complex adaptive system Complex adaptive systems are ubiquitous in nature. Typical examples include social insects, the ecosystem, the brain and the cell, the Internet, and also, in general, any human social group-based endeavor that takes place in a sociocultural system. Broadly defined, a complex adaptive system is one that is selforganizing in which there are multiple interactions between many different components while the components themselves can consist of networks that in turn operate as complex (sub)systems. Since the global and local levels are coupled, this coupling also drives the system to be dynamic at the global level (Hashimoto 1998). In short, a complex adaptive system is: 1) self-organizing, that is, it is constantly constructed and reconstructed by its users; 2) characterized by distributed control, that is, control is distributed throughout the system. Stated differently, the system has no centralized mechanism of control. CAS thinking is concerned with understanding the global behavior arising from local interactions among a large number of agents. Very often, this global behavior or emergent dynamics is complex; it is neither specified by prior design nor subject to centralized mechanisms of control. And, consequently, it is often difficult or impossible to predict solely from knowledge of the system’s constituent parts what the emergent global level properties of the system will be. Complex systems are systems that constantly evolve over time. Thus change is an integral element of their functioning. Complex adaptive systems are adaptive in that they have the capacity to evolve in response to a changing environment (also known as adaptability, cf. Conrad 1983). Since complex adaptive systems arise in a wide range of contexts (from the individual cell to the biosphere to culture or the Internet), this theoretical framework is rapidly gaining ground in a variety of disciplinary areas. Of particular note is the close working relationship that already exists between the field of complex adaptive systems thinking and Artificial Life (ALife), while applications of CAS and related developmental systems approaches to 21st century post-genomic and other types of research problems in the bio-


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logical sciences are becoming increasingly common (Griffiths 2002; Griffiths and Gray 2000; Kay 2000; Lansing 2003; Oyama 2000; Strohman 1997). In all of these areas the principles of emergence and self-organization are fundamental: complex global patterns with new properties can emerge from local interactions. CAS thinking and the related term complexity science are used to refer to the loosely organized and highly interdisciplinary academic field that has grown out of the study of such systems, even though the specific theoretical frameworks of the disciplines, fields or subfields in question may differ significantly. While CAS oriented investigations often tend to be of a highly quantitative nature, as has occurred in the instance of other disciplines, a less quantitatively oriented CAS modeling approach can be adopted for investigating natural language and the formation of metaphors in discourse. In fact, our discussion of the way the analogy of language as “organism” and as “species” developed over time may be viewed as a prototypical example of the workings of a socio-culturally situated multi-agent system, that is, how complex changes in meaning can be viewed as evolving within a complex, socio-culturally entrenched dynamic system. Thus, rather than functioning solely as a tool for understanding the dynamics of artificial factual worlds and computer simulations of language evolution, as has been the case in “evolutionary linguistics” (Steels 2004), the CAS approach can also be appropriated to explore the evolution and socio-cultural entailments found in natural languages (Sharifian forthcoming), as well as to trace the entailments associated with language change itself, most particularly those that leave behind abundant traces in the written record.

3.2. The CAS approach to language Perhaps one of the most well known initiatives in evolutionary and computational linguistics is that of Luc Steels and his team of researchers working at the Free University of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel). Steels founded the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (http://arti.vub.ac.be/) in 1983 where labmembers carry out projects in collaboration with the research units of Sony CSL in Paris. Over the past decade, they have investigated ways in which artificial agents can provide windows on certain aspects of language evolution such as concept and category formation, recursion, compositionality and phonology. Central to their research projects is the hypothesis that language is a complex adaptive system, one that emerges through adaptive interactions between the artificial agents and one that over time continues to evolve as a self-organizing system, adapting itself to the needs and capabilities of the agents. At the same

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


time the system is being structured by the actions of the individual agents. Other related initiatives include the simulation and synthesis of living systems, along with simulations of the co-evolution of language and social structure using various computational frameworks. In some cases the data used in the simulation is itself simulated, while in other cases the data is drawn from natural language(s) and then often modeled or cross-checked using artificial agents (Gong et al. 2004; Hashimoto 1998; Li 1998; Wang, Ke and Minett 2004).4 The CAS approach to language states that global order derives from local interactions. Language agents are carriers of individual linguistic knowledge which becomes overt behavior in local interactions between agents. Through these local level (microscopic) interactions agents construct and acquire individual ontologies, lexicons and grammars. When the latter are sufficiently entrenched within the system, they become part of the global level (macroscopic) properties of collective ontologies, lexicons and grammars of the speech community. Actually, the process is even non-linear in the sense that individual ontologies, lexicons and grammars continuously contribute to and, in turn, are influenced by the global level. This shift in perspective provides us with a different view of language in which it is understood as a constantly evolving system that defies simplistic taxonomic, essentialist categorization. In short, language is understood as a multi-agent complex adaptive system in which emergent phenomena result from behaviors of embodied, (socio-culturally) situated agents.5 As stated, the phenomenon of language is best viewed as a complex adaptive system that is constantly constructed and reconstructed by its users. Therefore, language should be considered an emergent phenomenon, the result of activity, the collective, cumulative behavior of language agents over time. These emergent phenomena have a strong causal impact on the behavior and learning of each individual language agent. Hence, there is a type of recursiveness to the 4 We should also mention the research being carried out in computational evolutionary linguistics and simulations of living systems at the Santa Fe Institute; the ongoing investigations taking place at the Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit, located at the University of Edinburgh; the Ikegami Laboratory at the University of Tokyo under the direction of Takashi Ikegami (cf. Ikegami and Zlatev 2007), as well as and Language Engineering Laboratory, located in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 5 These dialectics are also pointed out at the psychological level by Herbert Clark (1996: 100–120) when he introduces his famous distinction between personal and communal common ground. And also Tomasello’s (2004: 4) characterization of cumulative cultural evolution as a kind of ratchet effect can be interpreted as an attempt to capture these dynamics.


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system in which feedback mechanisms operate as an intrinsic aspect of it. The functioning of these feedback loops is referred to as “circular” or “recursive causality”. At the local level the individual language agent’s behaviors (utterances) determine language, that is, language understood at the global level. Similarly, at the local level the resulting emergent global level structures of language co-determine the range of behaviors of the agents, that is, the range of possible interactions at the local or microscopic level. This top-down influence is established in several ways. First, we need to keep in mind that the global level systemic structures of language are already in existence prior to the entrance of the local agents. As such, they act as a strong constraint on the linguistic behavior of individual language agents. While the latter acquire their local level understandings of this already existing system as their idiolect, these are understandings that can be renewed, restructured over and over again in the course of the individual’s lifetime. Then we see that the bottom-up influence is established in the following manner. The local level systemic structure of language constantly acts to bring about emergent structure, that is, change, from the bottom-up, so to speak. While the speaker – the individual language agent – has to abide by the structures provided by the system at the risk of not being understood, there is always a degree of flexibility to expand the existing system.6 Although the structures are to some extent in constant flux, in communicative practice, the speaker is capable of: 1) choosing to draw, consciously or unconsciously, from among them and 2) selecting from amongst those structures that are present in the “feature bank” of her idiolect, her microstructural “knowledge” of the global level macrostructures. From this perspective, in the case of bilingual language agents they can draw on additional microstructural “knowledge” that, in turn, can act to set in motion perturbations in the emergent global level structures. We must also stress that the above description is somewhat simplified to clarify both the global and local levels. In fact, no linear chain of events can be distinguished. Rather, there is an intrinsic coupling between both levels: both constantly reshape, constrain and influence one another. And also within


The close parallels holding between this CAS model and usage-based approaches to language are found in the following discussion of “units of language” where the latter are defined as “not fixed but dynamic, subject to creative extension and reshaping with use. Usage events are crucial to the ongoing structuring and operation of the linguistic system. Language productions are not only products of the speaker’s linguistic system, but they also provide input for other speakers’ systems (as well as, reflexively, for the speaker’s own), not just in initial acquisition but in language use throughout life” (Kemmer and Barlow 2000: ix).

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


the local (between language agents) and within the global level (between language communities), interaction is the rule rather than the exception. These interactions again, in a non-linear manner, influence the future of the language system.

3.3. The difference between a CAS and a “species/population” approach to language At this juncture we might compare the CAS model to Croft’s “language-asspecies” approach. Rather than employing a single, fused dynamical systems model with input from language agents directly internalized to it, Croft’s language-as-species approach operates with two separate conceptual frames. On the one hand, “language” is defined as “a population of utterances” and, on the other, the term “language system” is “used where necessary to distinguish the population definition of language from the view that a language is a system of conventions” (Croft 2000: 239). Croft refers to his model as the theory of utterance selection (TUS) which takes its starting point from neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. As Croft explains, it was inspired by the generalized theory of selection developed by the philosopher of science, David Hull (1984, 1988). Hull convincingly argues that besides its applications in the study of life, the theory of evolution by means of natural selection can also be implemented in the study of the evolution of culture (e. g., science, language, etc.). He argues that evolution by means of natural selection occurs when replicators (units of selection such as genes or memes) vary due to the differential environmental interactions their carriers undergo (vehicles such as organisms). Such interactions are the stuff selection can work upon and as such they lead to different lineages (populations, demes). By analogy, Croft (2000) argues that language evolution can be characterized by a process whereby linguemes (linguistic memes, units of language evolution) vary differentially because of the way the speakers use the linguemes differentially and the way they interact in the linguistic environment. As such, different demes, i. e. populations of utterances, are created and natural selection can work upon them. Although Croft recognizes the presence of speaker differences and populations of utterances, his early model (2000) does not operate from a CAS perspective and the notion of language as a multi-agent system. Therefore, conceptually his theory does not distinguish the local level from the global level of the same system and/or speak of their inseparability and constant interaction in the way that the CAS model does. For example, TUS tends to refer to the “speaker’s knowledge of grammar” on the one hand and on the other


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to the “language system”, i. e. an overall system of language conventions. The two concepts are still treated separately, rather than as representing the local and global levels of a single unified dynamic system. Yet there are striking similarities between Croft’s language-as-species approach and the perspective afforded by the CAS model. For instance, in 2000, when speaking against the older structuralist (organicist) model of language, Croft stated: “Instead, as implied in this book, the linguistic system is not rigid, homogeneous, selfcontained, or ‘finely balanced’” (Croft 2000: 231). More recently Croft has described the social cognitive linguistic basis for analyzing language as a complex adaptive system and, in a collaborative effort with the physicist Richard Blythe, he has brought forward a mathematical model of language change that combines the CAS approach with the utterance selection model (Baxter et al. 2006; Blythe and Croft 2008). In short, a “species” approach to language is entirely compatible with a CAS approach, a topic treated in considerable depth by Steels (1999). Scholars such as Campbell (1960), Cziko (1995), Dawkins (1983), Dennett (1995) and Hull (1988) have demonstrated how a selectionist methodology can be introduced to study not only the evolution of living organisms but also cognition and culture. They convincingly argue that similarly to life, the evolution of culture and cognition also occurs via the selective retention of adaptive variation. Both Croft (2000, 2002) and Mufwene (2001) have incorporated these approaches into their own work. Indeed, Croft (2000, 2002, 2006, 2008) speaks at length of the need to undertake investigations in the area of “evolutionary linguistics” and sets forth an innovative model for doing so. And although Mufwene principally characterizes languages as species, he already toyed with the idea of languages as CAS in his 2001 book. However, Mufwene (2001: 157) exclusively refers to the ecological CAS approach and does not mention the ongoing CAS oriented research in fields such as AI which focus on problems in evolutionary linguistics (Kirby 2009; Steels 1999, 2002). In sum, given that the two sets of research objectives are quite similar in nature, hopefully researchers will begin to synthesize the two approaches.7


The search for analogies between selectionist evolution on the one hand and cognitive and cultural evolution on the other is a research avenue that has been undertaken multiple times in the past. This attempt was first systematized in the discipline called “evolutionary epistemology” (Campbell 1960; Gontier 2006b).

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


4. The potential of the CAS approach for the study of natural languages As Briscoe (2002: 1) has observed, “Evolutionary ideas, biological metaphors and analogies have had a rather checkered history within linguistic theory despite their close mutual influence in the nineteenth century”. Although a certain amount of linguistic work was influenced by evolutionary and cultural anthropological theory during the fifties and sixties, it is not until the 1980s that we discover the insight that languages per se could be studied as complex (culturally) evolving self-organized systems.8 This position came about in linguistics after the modern synthesis in biology and the mathematical and computational work in the field of dynamical systems. Today taking an evolutionary perspective on the origins and development of human language and on linguistic variation and change is becoming more and more widespread. However, for the most part these complex adaptive system initiatives have been restricted to computational and mathematical simulations of language, rather than being integrated theoretically into research on, and concrete descriptions of, natural language systems and, more specifically, diachronic studies of language change. Scholars working within the field of AI have demonstrated that the selectionist approaches, introduced in the previous section of this study, can be dynamized further when they are integrated into complex adaptive system approaches. In this regard, multi-agent computer simulations of language have also been introduced. Unfortunately, as Briscoe (2002: 3) has observed, the complex dynamical systems approach to language still has not had significant impact in mainstream linguistic theory, perhaps partly because only recently have researchers utilizing this theory started to address questions seen as central to linguistic theory and more specifically to (cognitive) historical linguistics (leaving aside the contributions of Croft and Mufwene discussed previously). Nonetheless, the shift in viewpoint characterizing many of these ongoing research initiatives in (cognitive) linguistics suggests the following: that in addition to its applications in computer simulations of change (based on multiple 8

The fact that historical linguistics and historical biology can be recognized as two specific areas of a general theory of evolution and viewed through complex systems theory was discussed early on by Stevick (1963: 169), who asserted that “they were particular developments of a general model of persistence with modification of complex systems”. In other words, languages and species are both systems which exist and persist through time, while changing as they do (cf. McMahon 1994: 314–340, esp. 335). Furthermore, in the works of Boas (1928) and especially Kroeber (1923), language was already recognized as a self-organizing, “superorganic” structure.


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interactions between artificial agents), a more widespread application of the CAS model to the analysis of natural language and concrete long-term language change is not far off. Computer simulations based on the CAS approach provide valuable insights into collective and distributed models of cognition and language evolution, but still researchers are presently unable to build into their computer models the kinds of interactions inherent to the complex sociocultural networks that characterize natural language change over extended periods of time and in real rather than artificial settings (cf. Hurford 2002). Thus, it is conceivable that the results of empirical studies informed by CAS and focused on tracking change over time in real language settings, i. e. longitudinal studies of natural language data, could provide useful new insights into how one might go about improving these computer simulations of language evolution. And, finally, these insights might lead to collaborative studies where the results of investigations on specific changes in a natural language are then modeled, simulated or otherwise cross-checked.9 In this way, once we cease viewing language as a closed, bounded “organism” and/or, alternatively, from an exclusively individualistic framework, and begin to contemplate it from a CAS perspective, it would appear that discussions of the mechanisms operating to produce language change(s) could feed into: 1) larger discussions of cognition from a comparative and evolutionary perspective; 2) examinations of the relationship holding between language and culture, where culture, too, is viewed from an evolutionary and cognitive perspective; and finally 3) where the analysis of language change allows insights into the distributed and collective nature of cognition. All of these approaches could be conceptualized from within an integrated or holistic ecological, social, and cultural perspective.

5. Some examples of how one can implement CAS modeling It is our belief that those working in HCL can profit from becoming more familiar with the work in these allied disciplines of cognitive science which is informed by CAS approaches. More specifically, simulations that integrate CAS modeling and its central notion of self-organization – as it is laid out and discussed by Frank (2008b, 2009) and by evolutionary linguists such as Steels (2004) – are closely aligned with the view of language as “distributed cogni9 The article by Li (1998) is particularly exemplary in this respect, for it combines cognitive linguistics methodology and computer simulations in the exploration of a specific instance of language change.

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


tion” and with concepts such as “cultural conceptualizations” (Sharifian 2003, 2008, forthcoming), “socio-cultural situatedness” (Frank et al. 2008) and the “extended mind” (Clark 1997; Clark and Chalmers 1998). The ramifications of CAS approaches to modeling language, namely, approaches that integrate the notion of “distributed cognition” and “socio-cultural situatedness”, are further reflected in Croft’s discussions about the need to construct “a social cognitive linguistics” (Croft 2008, 2009, forthcoming a). Furthermore, in this respect we would argue that the development of “cognitive sociolinguistics” is an important example of the convergence between the CAS approach and cognitive linguistics (Kristiansen and Dirven 2008). In addition, we would emphasize the fact that cognitive linguistics is witnessing a “social turn” towards variationist studies (Geeraerts 2005). In this sense, it is difficult to imagine language conceptualized as a CAS without taking into account the social structure of language and language communities, i. e. everything that has to do with language variation among social groups. Moreover, with the CAS model these social and variational factors would be viewed as operating dynamically at the global and local levels, as discussed in 3.2.10

5.1. Stigmergy: Feedback loops, living systems and language The kind of feedback loops we have discussed in reference to a CAS modeling of language are not unusual in living systems which are, themselves, self-organizing and complex. In the case of self-organizing systems, feedback loops are sometimes characterized as constituting a form of “circular causality” or they can be viewed as examples of stigmergy (Steels 2000; Susi and Ziemke 2001) which is a particular form of distributed cognition. At this point, however, little attention has been paid to the heuristic and inferential potential of stigmergic analogies by those working in cognitive linguistics (Steels 2004). Yet this potential is there since the analogies holding between the concept of stigmergy and language as an “activity” or as “activity-oriented”, that is, language understood as a complex adaptive system characterized by self-organization (emergent structure, top-down/bottom-up causality, feedback loops) are quite obvious (Bonabeau 1997; Bonabeau, Dorigo and Theraulaz 1999; Theraulaz and Bonabeau 1999): 10

We would like to express our appreciation to the anonymous reviewer for his/her suggestions concerning the conceptual linkages holding between a CAS approach to language and recent directions in social and variational studies within cognitive linguistics.


Roslyn M. Frank and Nathalie Gontier For example, the path formed by an ant society is an emergent phenomenon of the actions of the individual ants. There is no global coordination nor supervision and the individual ants cannot oversee the total path. Nevertheless the path is more than an epiphenomenon. It plays a causal role in the behavior of the individual ants. The path is formed by pheromones deposited by the ants as they follow the already existing trail. The more ants deposit pheromone the stronger the path becomes and the more the path causally impacts the behavior of the individual ants. Without the path the ants would move in all directions. (Steels 1999: 144)

Stigmergy can be understood as a distributed communication paradigm. When applied to natural language, we might view it as a situation in which natural agents through their individual linguistic choices at the local level interact indirectly with each other and where higher frequency patterns of usage are more likely to prevail. Over time the cumulative effect of the (inter-)actions of the members of the speech community serve to transform (or maintain) the shape and/or meaning of a given lexeme or morpho-syntactic feature, that is, by contributing to its (momentary) stability at the global level, again comparable to what Tomasello (2004) describes as the ratchet effect. Thus, there are subtle feedback mechanisms operating over space and time involving socio-culturally situated decision-making processes. In short, the language system is constantly evolving. The advantage that accrues from studying these stigmergic patterns which are found in natural language is that they are left behind because of the actions of natural human agents. Thus, for us it is not necessarily a matter of studying the way robots and artificial agents should be programmed to make choices and interact with their environments. Rather our attention as cognitive linguists can focus on exploring how to extract these patterns from natural language in meaningful ways, so that the cognitive processes that went into creating them in the past become accessible to us. However, to date, outside of those working in the field of computer simulations of language, i. e., those oriented towards “evolutionary linguistics”, few have theorized about natural language processes and change from this perspective, i. e., using analogies to other stigmergic processes found in nature and reflecting on the “activity-oriented” nature of language. Nevertheless, earlier expressions of stigmergic thinking can be found in Keller (1994) in his discussion of “paths” in relationship to the nature of language change and more recently in Mufwene (2003). Although neither of these authors makes any overt mention of the concept of stigmergy, the language phenomena they are describing as well as the way in which they are attempting to model the linguistic phenomena under discussion could easily be termed stigmergic. Moreover, in the case of the formation and evolution

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


of discourse metaphors (Musolff 2008; Zinken, Hellsten and Nerlich 2008), e. g., such as “language as an organism” and/or “language as a species” (Frank 2008b), clearly more than one path is being followed at any one time by the speech community in question and the result is a Borgian-like territory, laced with forking and criss-crossing paths, where some paths gain in salience through repeated use while other tracks fade from view over time through disuse. A similar view could be taken with respect to the formation and evolution of word meaning(s) over time. And, basic to the concept of stigmergy, there is the broader notion of “distributed cognition” and “systems thinking” which has been adapted already by those working in many disciplines within the cognitive sciences. The possible advantages of adapting the concept of stigmergy and stigmergic thinking and integrating it into the field of cognitive linguistics are readily apparent. With respect to usage-based theories the frequency of use correlates with the notion of “entrenchment” and its effects on different kinds of linguistic units. Indeed, the long term effects of entrenchment on change (and stability) of a given unit have been taken up by a number of researchers. Likewise, the main types of frequency effects cited in CL literature would fit neatly into the usage patterns characterized by stigmergy, i. e., “token frequency” and “type frequency”, both of which bring about the entrenchment or stigmergic patterning of different sorts of linguistic units (Croft and Cruse 2004). However, the long term effects of these frequency patterns – the effects of the entrenchment of a given linguistic unit – are not necessarily uniform, as Bybee has demonstrated, all of which suggests that more research needs to be carried on the impact that high frequency (or low frequency) can have on the linguistic unit in question (Bybee 2003, 2006; Bybee and Hopper 2001). These questions in turn require recognition of the distributed two-level nature of the cognitive processes under discussion as well as the way that the forms are transmitted across time and space, from one language agent to another, from one generation of speakers to the next and/or from one speech community to the next, in which there is a constant interaction between the local and global levels of language.

5.2. Language as distributed and situated cognition The CAS approach to modeling natural language is also closely linked to and aligned with ideas about the embodiment of mind and the environmental situatedness of human cognition, as well as to concepts such as “sociocultural situatedness”, “situated cognition”, “distributed cognition”, “cognitive


Roslyn M. Frank and Nathalie Gontier

artifacts” and “collective cultural conceptualization”. These are notions that are increasingly central to research not only in the areas of AI and A-Life, but also in usage-based investigative approaches encountered in cognitive linguistics. Similarly, there is a greater awareness of the intrinsically diachronic aspect of language as a system and the relative futility of attempts at describing the ontology, lexicon, morphology and syntax of a given language solely from a synchronic perspective, suggesting that, conceptually, the synchronic/ diachronic dichotomy is fundamentally flawed when applied to natural languages as systems. The applicability of complex systems thinking to cognitive processes in general and those found in language is relatively easy to see. More particularly, viewing language as distributed cognition provides a valuable theoretical framework especially when carrying out diachronic analyses of linguistic data. This can be seen in the summary of Waloszek (2003) who lists the characteristics of a systems approach to cognition as follows: The first principle concerns the boundaries of the unit of analysis for cognition: • Distributed cognition looks for cognitive processes in the functional relationships between elements that participate together in a process – the traditional cognitive unit of analysis is the individual. The second principle concerns the range of mechanisms that may be assumed to take part in cognitive processes: • While traditional views look for cognitive events in the manipulation of symbols inside individual actors, distributed cognition looks for a broader class of cognitive events and does not expect all such events to be encompassed by the skin or skull of an individual. When one applies these principles to the observation of human activity, various distributions of cognitive processes become apparent. The following three are of particular interest: • Cognitive processes may be distributed across members of a social group. • Cognitive processes may involve coordination between internal and external (material, environment) structure. • Cognitive processes may be distributed through time, so that the products of earlier events can transform the nature of later events. In Table 1 we find various aspects of the traditional view of language contrasted with the systems-oriented approach which integrates the notion of distributed cognition.

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


Table 1. Adapted from Hollan, Hutchins and Kirsh (2000). Traditional view Unit of analysis

Distributed cognition view

individual person

all – the system is larger than individuals, all sizes of social-group networks; speech communities Mechanism manipulation of symbols functional systems, groups, emphasis on and linguistic artifacts space/time, diachronic dimension by individual actors; synchronic emphasis Methodology controlled experiments, language viewed as a complex adaptive emphasis on cognitive system, emphasis on cognitive properties properties of individuals of systems, dynamical systems approach, socio-cultural situatedness, ethnography

5.3. Usage-based models The investigations by Kemmer & Barlow (2000) on usage-based models of language are pertinent, especially the following observations that: • linguistic structure is intimately tied to language use, i. e., speaking and understanding language; it is not encapsulated in a language-specific module, unaffected by language use after childhood; • cognitive representations take the form of schemas abstracted over instances of language use, based on entrenched cognitive routines that represent the commonalities found in similar usage events; • greater frequency of particular types of instances leads to greater cognitive entrenchment, i. e., that frequency of usages in the community shapes the systems speakers learn and use, and in turn usage generates the frequency patterns observed, in a feedback loop; • usage events play a double role in the system: they both result from and also shape, the linguistic system itself in a kind of feedback loop; • linguistic entities (categories, structures, etc.) are emergent, and not stored as fixed entities; • language use and cognition are grounded in the speakers’ bodily and sociocultural experience. In short, we find their assertion that an analysis of discourse reveals emergent patterns of interaction that align with cultural schemas highly relevant. Moreover, it is clear that linguistic knowledge is an indissociable part of the human cognitive system. In this sense, both linguistic knowledge and its cognitive


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matrix are processing systems, rather than static representational systems or entified superorganic structures, while “language” becomes “activity” (Döring and Nerlich 2005).

5.4. Socio-culturally situated approaches In addition, although terms such as “language ecology” and “ecolinguistics” are increasingly common in the literature, writers have tended to use “the terms loosely and in a generally ill-defined manner” (Garner 2005: 91), rather than developing a fully socio-culturally situated view of language. Nonetheless, taken together, all of these approaches show the dynamic nature of human cognitive processing and lead us to a more comprehensive picture of the cognitive, embodied, situated, and cultural aspects of human language as well as the importance of the distributed multi-agent aspect of cognition and language. With respect to efforts to create greater granularity in the definition of concepts such as “language ecology” and “ecolinguistics” we should mention the interdisciplinary nature of the work of cognitive linguists, most particularly that of Sinha (1988, 2004a, 2004b, 2006, 2009), Sinha and Jensen de López (2000) and, for example, Sinha’s International Cognitive Linguistics Conference 2007 Plenary Address entitled “Language as biocultural niche and social institution” (published as Sinha 2009). In this paper, Sinha examines questions such as: how can culture be conceptualized from an evolutionary and ecological point of view, what are the relations between biology and culture, and how do theories of biology and culture bear upon theories of language? Thus, it is now quite clear that cognitive linguists are beginning to appreciate the heuristic value of appropriating biological concepts, such as “emergence” and “biocultural niche”, into discussions of language change and language evolution. In this respect we should mention the early ground-breaking work by Hopper on “emergent grammar” (Hopper 1987) as well as his more recent contributions (Bybee and Hopper 2001; Hopper 2008; Hopper and Traugott 2005; Weber 1997). We should note in particular that Hopper’s research deals with “emergence” in relation to historical language change and grammaticalization. Also there are the important research initiatives undertaken by Cowley, cocoordinator of the Distributed Language Group (DLG) (Cowley and Kravchenko 2007; Crowley 2007). DLG is dedicated to exploring applications of the theoretical framework of distributed cognitive systems and the notion of the “extended mind” (Clark 1997; Clark and Chalmers 1998) to language. In a similar vein we should mention that significant work has been carried out by investigators concerned with bringing about closer theoretical ties and thus

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


increasing our ability to communicate more effectively across adjacent fields of cognitive science, efforts that in the future could result in far greater interdisciplinary cooperation and synergy (Kramsch 2000; Lantolf 2005; LarsenFreeman 1997, 2002). It should be noted, however, that these researchers have been concerned primarily with adopting terminology and concepts drawn from complex systems theory and/or dynamical systems theory and then applying them to specific problems in usage-based linguistics and/or first and second language acquisition and socialization, instead of developing an overall CAS approach and defining the phenomenon of “language” through recourse to it. Therefore, although certainly of significant value, until now, for the most part studies carried out on these topics have not taken up the broader question of how a CAS theoretical model might be applied globally to the concept of “language” itself. However, this situation is about to change. We refer to the fact that a special issue of Language Learning dedicated entirely to “Language as a Complex Adaptive System” (LaCAS) is about to appear (Beckner et al. in prep.). The volume will contain papers given at the first conference focusing solely on this topic, held November 7–9, 2008, at the University of Michigan and organized by Nick C. Ellis. The conference proceedings include a contribution by John Holland, one of the pioneers and foremost researchers in the field of CAS and its applications (Holland 1995, 1998, 2005, 2006).11 As Ellis observes in his introductory remarks to the conference participants, in the past there has been a disciplinary tendency toward separation and fragmentation of language-related research, increased specialization which has resulted in the investigation of different parts or aspects of language in isolation, even as parsed into separate disciplines. He states that we find “lexis devoid of syntax; we study speech sciences as a separate discipline, psycholinguistics divorced from universal grammar and generative approaches; synchronics from diachronics; we study language structure separate from aspects of social usage or change” (Ellis 2008). By investigating language as a complex adaptive system emphasis is put on the recognition that it is from the interactions among these aspects that patterns of language use arise. Therefore, we believe that “language structure, language acquisition, processing and usage, and language change are not independent from another, but are facets of the same complex adaptive system” (Ellis 2008). In short, recent research in the cognitive sciences has demonstrated that patterns of use strongly affect how language is 11

Readers wishing more information on the conference are directed to http://elicorpora.info/LLC and http://www.wiley.com/bw/podcast/lang.asp where the podcast of papers from the conference is available.


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acquired, is used, and changes. These processes are not independent from one another but are aspects of “the same complex adaptive system (CAS)” (Beckner et al. in prep). Hence, we allege that the CAS approach reveals commonalities across many areas of language research, including historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, language evolution, first and second language acquisition and computational modeling.

5.5. Genetically-inspired linguistic models As Beckner et al. (in prep.) point out, the “CAS approach reveals commonalities in many areas of language research, including first and second language acquisition, historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, language evolution and computational modeling”. Moreover, another advantage of CAS thinking is that it provides conceptual structure and terminology that is well recognized across the disciplines, while it also avoids some of the pitfalls of more genetically-inspired linguistic models, those that tighten the blend, so to speak, to include, for example, linguistic counterparts of DNA, or even the “genes/memes/ linguemes” analogical sequence proposed by Croft (2000). In some instances the heuristic afforded by the biological source can be perceived as exercising excessive control over the conceptual shape of the resulting analogically conceived linguistic target (Ansaldo 2003). Naturally, in the process of developing new conceptual tools for examining language change and exploring the field of evolutionary linguistics, these cross-disciplinary analogies will continue to be developed. At the same time, however, the analogies elicited can give rise to problems concerning their suitability, the one-to-one applicability of the biological source to a particular language phenomenon. For example, it is difficult to characterize the unit of language evolution. Croft, when introducing the notion of a lingueme, recognizes that “In biological evolution, the gene determines to a great extent the structure of the organism, that is, the organism’s phenotype. […] In language use, it seems to be the other way around: the speaker’s grammatical knowledge, also called her grammar, determines to a great extent the structure of the linguemes” (Croft forthcoming b). Moreover, when speaking of linguistic models that draw heavily on the heuristic provided by biological sources, for those working in cognitive linguistics a certain level of discomfort or even distrust might be elicited by models that have their roots too firmly planted in the Chomskyan modular paradigm, e. g., the genes/memes analogy where language is sometimes viewed as a “meme” or “virus of the mind”, or more broadly, where language change is viewed as a process of “exact replication of linguistic information” between individu-

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


als and from one generation to the next, another type of epidemiology and a position that dominates in certain sectors of traditional cognitivist thinking (Christiansen 1994: 125–126, in prep.; Deacon 1997: 110–115; Hohenberger 2002; Jenkins 1997, 2000). In contrast we could cite the work of researchers working from within somewhat different frameworks such as Enfield (2003), Gontier (2006a, 2007, 2008) and Sperber (1996, 2000)12 where the emphasis is on analogies to “horizontal” or epidemiological transfers. A similar perspective is found in recent work on “discourse metaphor” (Chilton 2005; Musolff 2006, 2008; Musolff and Zinken 2009; Zinken, Hellsten and Nerlich 2008). But the hardest problem we are faced with is the difficulty in locating the site of agency in language. This issue has often been compared to the problem of agency associated with “the theory of the invisible hand”, while language itself has been categorized as “a phenomenon of the third kind”, based on the fact that it looks like something that was brought about by prior design, but was not (Keller 1994: 61–107). According to Keller, “phenomena of the third kind” can be perceived and described on the micro-level as well as on a macro-level, while he compares language itself to something much more highly complex than a system of footpaths, yet similar in its constitution, an analogy that resonates strongly with complex adaptive systems thinking, the notion of circular causality, as well as that of stigmergy (cf. also Mufwene 2003). Moreover, today many of the systems that Keller listed as belonging to this class of “phenenoma of the third kind” are regularly modeled using a complex adaptive systems framework where agency becomes distributed throughout the system.13

6. Concluding thoughts Over the past two decades developments in the field of cognitive science have brought together pre-existing methodologies and theoretical approaches from a wide variety of disciplines and at the same time promoted cross-disciplinary dialogue relating to the development of new methodologies and theoretical frameworks (cf. Bono 1990, 1993, 1995). As we have noted, this cross-fertilization has been particularly rich in the case of researchers concerned with modeling language in a number of new settings, e. g., those involved in working with artificial distributed agents associated with research projects in AI and 12 13

Most readers will also be familiar with the seminal work by Sperber and Wilson (2004). For additional discussion of agency in language as well as the difficulties associated with the gene-meme-lingueme equivalencies, cf. Frank (2008b).


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A-Life, as well as in the area of ecolinguistics, biosemiotics and theoretical biology. Whereas a great deal of attention and effort has been placed on developing such models in these subfields of cognitive science, to date less work has been carried out by cognitive linguists. Until now there have been few attempts to develop ways of modeling the entity called “language” through cross-fertilization with frameworks being developed in the hard sciences, specifically, the integration of CAS theory. Nonetheless, in recent years a number of important steps have been taken in this direction, e. g., Croft (2000), Steels (2000), and Bernárdez (2001) and most recently Sharifian (2003, 2008, forthcoming). These initiatives represent a conscious move away from the linear, CartesianNewtonian mode of thinking and the linear conceptualization of causality characteristic of earlier models of language and language change and, as such, these steps represent movement toward descriptions of the phenomenon of language more in terms of a self-organizing, dynamic system. As we have noted, the notion of a self-organizing, dynamic system is central to complex systems theory, also known as dynamical systems theory (Clark 1997). The model now serves as an explanatory device utilized to describe a wide range of natural phenomena and has been adopted also by various disciplines in the human sciences, although not yet by those working in the field of historical cognitive linguistics. Likewise in AI and A-Life it has taken on a central role. Similarly, attempts to model language-like interactions using robotic technology have become commonplace, even the modeling of “artificial societies”.14 Given the possible heuristic advantages that derive from developing a cross-disciplinary vocabulary, a mutually intelligible set of descriptive terms, we believe serious attention needs to be paid to this CAS option as we move forward with the task of elaborating a methodological and theoretical framework for historical cognitive linguistics. We have explored some of the ways in which CAS thinking might be appropriated to describe the phenomenon of language and language change more effectively. Thus, we have pointed out, albeit quite tentatively, some of the paths that might open up when Croft’s “population thinking” approach to describing language is slightly modified in order to bring its conceptual tools more into line, analogically, with the CAS approach. Finally, the linkages holding between the CAS model and current models in cognitive linguistics have been highlighted, e. g., concepts such as “socio-cultural situatedness” 14

Of particular note are the following centers working on “artificial societies”: the Santa Fe Institute, the University of Michigan Center for the Study of Complex Systems and the Brookings Institution. Cf. also the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation and Epstein & Axtell (1996).

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


(Frank 2008a), “distributed cognition” (Hutchins 1995; Sharifian 2003; Susi and Ziemke 2001) and “usage-based models” (Barlow and Kemmer 2000). In this way, the explanatory power of CAS theory for developing models of natural language has been demonstrated as well as the importance of crossdisciplinary dialogue. Also, we want to emphasize that our observations concerning the “population thinking” model should not be understood as a rejection of the model as it has been put forward by researchers such as Croft (2000, 2002, 2006) and Mufwene (2001, 2005). Rather we have offered these comments in an attempt to identify ways in which this “population thinking” model could be modified, supplemented and its explanatory power increased by the adoption of the heuristic of CAS thinking: language conceptualized as a complex adaptive system.15 Indeed, Croft has set forth the groundwork for an “evolutionary model” (Croft 2002, 2006) while his own research already integrates many aspects of the CAS approach to modeling language. And, as we have noted, Mufwene (2001: 157) briefly mentions the CAS approach to language but from a macro-ecological viewpoint. Exactly how this methodological and theoretical revision might be accomplished is far beyond the scope of this short paper although hopefully the topic will be taken up and elaborated upon in more depth in the future. Given the fact that we are currently engaged in developing innovative methodological approaches and endeavoring to construct theoretical framework(s) appropriate for this new subfield of cognitive linguistics, this juncture presents us with a unique opportunity. It is an opportunity that could allow us to join with the larger community of cognitive scientists who are exploring the role of language in cognition as well as the situated and collectively distributed nature of cognition and language evolution in general, the latter notion being understood as referring both to the origins and evolution of language as well as to the cognitive and cultural processes that give rise to language change. 15

The same would hold for the possibility of enriching approaches put forward by Mufwene (2001) and Keller (1994). In this sense, while Croft appropriates the terminology utilized by Hull, relatively uncritically, Mufwene distances himself somewhat more, drawing on the language-as-species trope, but making it crystal clear in his writings that this metaphorical-analogical appropriation of terms should not be excessively tightened nor understood too literally. In turn, he frequently brings up the many disanalogies that come into play when applying this trope and the heuristic disadvantages of it. In addition, he occasionally brings into play concepts and terminology associated with non-linear systems. At the same time, Croft, too, often expresses his own reservations. Cf. Ansaldo (2003: 123) for further relevant discussion of Croft’s model.


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More concretely, while those working in AI and A-Life are attempting to simulate language evolution, inventing multi-agent interactions that give rise to linguistic structure, often in a highly ingenious and noteworthy fashion, those of us investigating diachronic and usage-based questions are surrounded by a vast array of robust data sets that if properly mined would give us insights into natural language events. These evolutionary operations are brought about by concrete populations of flesh and blood speakers whose cognitive acts are imprinted on the data. Hence, the interactions studied are carried out by concrete social collectives over time, rather than being based on simulations using artificial or robotic agents which, admittedly, are run using what are highly complex and sophisticated evolutionary algorithms. In other words, HCL would be modeling the effects of real-world cognition, emergent behaviors and stigmergic effects. Stated differently, in contrast to the data supplied by studies of “artificial agents” (studies that “feed” on linguistic data) we have access to data sets from natural languages which are the results of interactions of “natural agents”. These human agents embody another feature that is of particular importance when reconstructing pathways of change over time: these natural agents are characterized by their socio-cultural embeddedness and their ability to respond to a complex and constantly changing environment. To do this they adapt their linguistic artifacts in ways that seem appropriate to them, that is, by the specific communicative needs of the individual agents within the given setting, at the local level. Hence, it is not merely the interactions between the natural agents that give rise to the reshaping of their linguistic tools, but rather and perhaps more importantly the way that the agents respond, simultaneously, to each other and the shifting demands represented by their socio-cultural situatedness. Today there is great interest across the disciplines in modeling the evolution of culture, not only the developmental aspects of material artifacts, but also the way cognitive artifacts and material metaphors evolve over time. The following discussion is typical of the manner in which these research questions are currently formulated: Culture involves inheritance: a stable transmission of cultural items – such as ideas, skills or artifacts – from individual to individual by social learning. At the same time, culture changes and it often changes in a cumulative and gradual manner. The results of this process include cultural items that are ‘adaptive’ from the point of view of the culture bearers, apt for the goals the individuals have, who produce and select the cultural items according to their goals. In this sense, cultural change can be seen as analogous to adaptive organic evolution. Cultural change is cultural evolution. (Kronfeldner 2007: 493)

On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics


Little would need to be changed in the above paragraph in order to make it apply to language and language change, other than substituting a word here and there, e. g., “language” for “culture”, “linguistic artifacts” for “cultural items”, etc. Thus, there are significant benefits that would accrue by adapting a CAS modeling technique for conceptualizing language, not the least of which would be the fact that by using a framework whose terminology is recognized across the disciplines we would obtain a kind of passport that would allow HCL research to more readily cross these disciplinary boundaries. At the same time the adoption and application of such CAS terminology and associated concepts, e. g., “extended mind”, “cultural conceptualizations” and “feedback loops”, to linguistic data would allow us to begin communicating in what is already rapidly becoming the lingua franca of social and behavioral sciences. In sum, CAS approaches are already part of a cross-disciplinary research framework that is circulating in many subfields within the biological and information sciences. And perhaps more importantly, it is gradually gaining currency in many other related subfields brought together under the umbrella term of cognitive science. In short, since the CAS framework and its related terminology are already widespread in many fields of cognitive science, our adoption of this framework and terminology in HCL would allow for fluid communication across the disciplines and perhaps bring about unexpected synergist results.

Acknowledgements We wish to express our sincere thanks to Joachim De Beule of the Artificial Intelligence Lab of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel for his helpful comments and suggestions on a draft version of this paper as well as our kind appreciation to the anonymous reviewer at Mouton for additional valuable suggestions.

References Alter, Stephen G. 1999 Darwinism and the Linguistic Image: Language, Race and Natural Theology in the Nineteenth Century. Baltimore/London: John Hopkins University Press. Ansaldo, Umberto 2003 Review of William Croft. Explaining Language Change: An Evolutionary Approach. London: Longman 2000. Functions of Language 10 (1): 122–128.


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Metaphor in discourse history1 Andreas Musolff

Abstract How can diachronic variation be accounted for in cognitive metaphor theory? Should it be viewed as an accidental aspect of “mere” language use, or as a significant aspect of historical semantics? If the latter – how does the cognitive approach relate to the research traditions of conceptual history/history of ideas? The paper discusses these questions with regard to the history of the metaphor of a state is a (human) body. Its use can be traced back to medieval times and even to antiquity but the metaphor is also productive in present-day political discourse. Does such continuity of use constitute a “historical” tradition in an empirically testable sense, or are we just dealing with successive instances of a fundamentally ahistorical cognitive operation? The paper concludes with a proposal to view cognitive, historical and discursive dimensions of metaphor analysis as complementary aspects. I am a mere toenail in the body politic. (Boris Johnson, MP, quoted in The Independent on Sunday, 20 November 2005) You, the great toe of this assembly … being one o’ the lowest, basest, poorest, Of this most wise rebellion, thou go’st foremost (Shakespeare, Coriolanus, Act I, Scene 1)

1. Introduction Four centuries separate the two quotations cited above; the latter is a pun attached to the famous “fable of the belly”, which the Roman Senator Menenius in Shakespeare’s play uses to pacify rebellious plebeians. The fable, which can be traced back to the Aesopian tradition and was popular with Roman historians since Livy’s History of Rome (Shakespeare’s source) explains that seemingly idle rulers are entitled to receive their revenues to redistribute them


This paper has benefited greatly from comments on earlier versions by participants of the ICLC 10 workshop on “Historical Cognitive Linguistics” as well as by Jörg Zinken, Zoltán KĘvecses and Felicity Rash and two anonymous reviewers.

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justly to all other “organs of state”, in analogy to the seemingly “idle” belly or stomach in a human body that takes all the nourishment from the “working” limbs. The lesson of the fable is the maxim that if the body members rebel and do not pass the food to the belly for redistribution, they all die together.2 The Tory Mayor of London since 2008, Boris Johnson, might have approved of the conservative slant of the fable but he likened himself self-deprecatingly to an even “lower” body part than the one which Menenius used to denigrate the leader of the Plebeian rebellion: the toenail, just as the toe, stands low in the hierarchy of the human anatomy.

2. Metaphor in discourse history How should we connect these two metaphors, which are evidently based on similar mappings of source and target concepts? Cognitive metaphor analysis, whether in the form of conceptual metaphor theory or blending theory (Grady, Oakley and Coulson 1999; Fauconnier and Turner 2002), can deal with the toeand toenail-metaphors as near-parallel cases, as far as the conceptual domains or mental spaces and the implied body hierarchy are concerned. Of course, the discursive and social contexts of Menenius and Johnson’s utterances are extremely divergent, but does this matter for the analysis of metaphor as a cognitive phenomenon? If yes, how does the cognitive approach relate to the research traditions of conceptual history/history of ideas and discourse history? This paper attempts to outline theoretical and methodological issues that may be of relevance in answering these questions. Historical investigations have not been the foremost concern of cognitive metaphor analysis so far. Even if the historicity of conceptual metaphor systems such as the Great Chain of Being was acknowledged, as in Lakoff and Turner (1989: 166–167), the main emphasis was put on the synchronic investigation of the metaphor’s “basic version” that is “largely unconscious and so fundamental to our thinking that we barely notice it” and that “occurs throughout a wide range of the world’s cultures” (Lakoff and Turner 1989: 167). In cognitive “embodiment” theory, the role of the body as the experiential and physiological basis of perception and conceptualization has been explored further, with special regard to its biological foundations in neurological structures and to


For the tradition of the “fable of the belly” see Hale (1971: 25–27), Guldin (2000: 101–103).


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primary experiential scenes in ontogenesis.3 On this basis, we can de-construct the metaphor a state is a (human) body as the complexion of a more general, perhaps universal, conceptual metaphor complex (social) systems are bodies and the metonymy of bodies-as-persons. Again, the semantics of the metaphor is explained ahistorically as an “extension” of a fundamental cognitive process. Over the past decade or so, however, a renewed interest in the diachronic dimension has emerged. On the one hand, the cognitive focus on universal conceptual structures has led to more detailed investigations into the cross-cultural variation of metaphor systems. The conceptual metaphor emotions are fluids in a container, for instance, appears to be linked to the concept of four bodily “humors” that dominated Western culture for more than a millennium and whose terminological traces can still be found in modern European languages in the vocabulary of “temperaments”.4 By contrast, Chinese idioms seem to rely on a conceptual metaphor anger is gas in a heated container, which in turn can be related to the theories of yin-yang and five elements of traditional Chinese philosophy and medicine.5 Other conceptual metaphors, e. g. quality is wealth, a state is a body/a person, politics is war, as used in present-day Western media and political discourse, have also been linked to culture-specific theories or ideologies.6 Furthermore, “naturalistic” approaches liken diachronic changes in metaphor use to the biological concept of “evolution”. Croft and Cruse (2004), for instance, speak, bio-metaphorically, of the “life cycle” of a metaphor that runs from its first coinage, as an instance of semantic innovation, which they compare to a mutation or altered replication of genetic information, through a “process of semantic drift” to the end point where “the expression’s metaphorical nature fades and eventually disappears” (Croft and Cruse 2004: 204–205). This notion of a metaphor’s life cycle fits well into the generalized theory of the evolution of linguistic units (so-called “linguemes”, coined after the model of Dawkins’ “memes”; cf. Dawkins 1989; Croft 2000: 13–39). But what would be the frame of reference for judging either of them to be “faded” or having “disappeared”? Expressions such as head of state/government or body politic may be deemed to have “faded” in terms of their metaphoric3 See Johnson (1987); Lakoff and Johnson (1999); Grady and Johnson (2002); Gibbs (2006). 4 See Kövecses (1995), (2005), (2006); Geeraerts and Grondelaers (1995); Gevaert (2005). 5 See Yu (2008: 401–403). 6 See Fabiszak (2007); Goatly (2007); Musolff (2004b), (2008).

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ity as they have become lexialised, but this does not concern the underlying conceptual mapping a state is a body. Some extensions of this mapping, especially the extension social order of a state is health of a body, have been applied in 20th century and current political discourse in Europe and the USA to give emphatic expression to strongly biased ideological perspectives (see below, 3.3). The course of semantic “fading” thus seems to have been reversed – is this the start of a new “life cycle” for the metaphor or just a “revival” of its original resonance? Is such a “revival” only to be treated as evidence of the universality of the respective embodied source concepts, or do we need to take culture-specific discourse traditions into account as parts of the cognitive analysis?

3. Religion, politics and racism: scenes from the life of the Body Politic To find ways of answering these questions, linguists have to take notice of the research findings in disciplines such as historical semantics, conceptual history and political philosophy, whilst reflecting the methodological differences and resulting mediation problems. In Cultural and Political History, the term body politic is still used to denote political and social entities or groups of them.7 Building on classic accounts of the body politic concept in the “history of ideas” by F. W. Maitland, E. M. W. Tillyard and E. H. Kantorowicz and others, which were first published in the 1930s–50s,8 a vibrant research tradition on this topic area has emerged that still continues in the studies of Hale (1971), Harris (1998), Soll (2002), Banks (2009), Zavadil (2009), Mouton (2009), to name but a few. Most of these studies are not written from a specifically cognitive perspective (with the exception of Mouton’s in-depth critique of ahistoric tendencies in parts of cognitive theory) and many of the methodological and theoretical tenets of conceptual history have changed since the early “history of ideas” studies.9 Neo-Hegelian assumptions concerning an idea’s immanent “dialectic” working through its manifestations in history, or an era’s characteristic “world picture” have been largely discarded. Still the project of writing an idea’s history presupposes a narrative schema that imposes its own logic on the 7

See, for instance, de Baeque (1997); Egan (1999); Olwig (2002); Morissey (2006); Musselmann (2006). 8 See Tillyard (1982), Kantorowicz (1997), Maitland (2003). 9 See the seminal critique of the early “history of ideas” approaches in Skinner (1978, vol. 1: x–xv); for a detailed debate see the contributions in Hampsher-Monk, Tilmans, and van Vree (1998).


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analysis, which poses fundamental methodological questions for the historiography of conceptual metaphors. To gain a sense of these methodological issues, we shall study three prominent uses of the body-state metaphor in the remainder of this section. These sketches are extremely selective in view of the vast material – Hale’s (1971) overview alone (which focuses on the body politic metaphor in the English Renaissance) names more than 160 primary authors. A comprehensive corpus of the historical uses of this metaphor would have to include most of Western political literatures/cultures over more than two millennia, if we take into consideration that the earliest sources quoted are pre-Socratic thinkers and the Aesopian fables, then Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, crucially the NeoPlatonists, Biblical traditions (especially St. Paul’s Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians), St. Augustine’s City of God and other texts by the “church fathers” up to the Middle Ages; since then most of the Western political philosophies, plus a huge amount of propaganda and ideological texts. Furthermore, the body politic metaphor was integrated in the above-mentioned vast conceptual complex of the Great Chain of Being that linked religious, cosmological, socio-political and natural domains in an all-encompassing system of “gradation”/“hierarchy,” “continuity” and “plenitude” (Lovejoy 1936: 35–61). By contrast, the following discussion is limited to three historical snap-shots, one from the Middle Ages, one from the 17th century and one from the 20th century. The purpose of these case studies is to illustrate how historical data of metaphor use can contribute to the understanding of the metaphorical body-state mapping, and thus to the development of cognitive metaphor analysis.

3.1. The body politic in the Middle Ages: John of Salisbury’s Policraticus The conceptualisation of state and society as a kind of anatomical hierarchy, which was implicit in Shakespeare’s as well as Boris Johnson’s uses of the toe/toenail image is not of modern origin but can be traced in English political discourse back to the 12th century philosopher, cleric and diplomat John of Salisbury (c. 1115–1180). In his Latin treatise Policraticus (c. 1159), which was dedicated to the then Chancellor and later Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, John depicted Christian feudal society in terms of analogies with the human body that combined a hierarchical view of the body from the head “down” to the feet with a strong emphasis on the church’s commanding role as the soul of the whole organism and on the mutual duty of care among all body parts:

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For a republic is, as Plutarch declares, a sort of body […] The position of the head of the republic is occupied by a prince subject only to God and to those who act in His place on earth, inasmuch as in the human body the head is stimulated and ruled by the soul. The place of the heart is occupied by the senate […] the feet coincide with peasants perpetually bound to the soil, for whom it is all the more necessary that the head take precautions, in that they more often meet with accidents while they walk on the earth […]. Remove from the fittest body the aid of the feet; it does not proceed under its own power, but either crawls shamefully, uselessly and offensively on its hands or else is moved with the assistance of brute animals. (John of Salisbury 1990: 66–67).10

On account of his head-to-feet depiction of the res publica, John’s text was judged by E. M. W. Tillyard as “one of the most elaborate medieval statements” of the body-state analogy within the Great Chain of Being (Tillyard 1982: 103). For Tillyard, the “world picture” of the Middle Ages “was that of an ordered universe arranged in a fixed system of hierarchies but modified by man’s sin and the hope of his redemption”; it was a system of “correspondences” that could be compared “with a gigantic game where everything is included and every act is conducted under the most complicated system of rules” (1982: 13–14). He contrasts this idealized medieval worldview with that of the “Elizabethans” who “no longer allowed the details to take the form of minute mathematical equivalences: they made the imagination use these for its own ends; equivalences shaded off into resemblances” (1982: 107). The medieval worldview, in this interpretation, did not allow for a truly metaphorical interpretation of the Great Chain correspondences such as that between human anatomy and social order: they belonged in a system of “equivalences” that was literally believed in as an ontology underwritten by Christian doctrine. However, when we look closer at the text of Policraticus, we find that some aspects of John’s explication of the body-state analogy do not fit its interpretation as a standard version of a stable, medieval-as-premodern “world picture”. It is true that the medieval feudal order is represented in the head-to-feet anatomical hierarchy but this aspect is in fact counterbalanced by the maxim, which John re-emphasizes throughout Policraticus (chapters 6–17 of Book V, chapters 1–20 and 24–29 of Book VI), that, notwithstanding their different 10

For the Latin original of these and further examples from Policraticus see John of Salisbury (1965). Most scholars have declared the reference to Plutarch to be a literary fiction; see, for instance, Liebeschütz (1950: 23–24), Nederman (1990: xxi).


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positions in the God-given hierarchy, all parts of the “political body” depend on each other and must work together to enable the whole body to stay healthy and function properly.11 Such relativisation of the seemingly static anatomy of the “political body” is also evident in a further version of the body-state metaphor in Policraticus in the form of the “fable of the belly”, which is presented as a moral-political lesson taught to the author by Pope Adrian IV. According to John, he was prompted by the pontiff to report on complaints of corruption and simony against the church and, after having done so, he challenged the Pope: “If you are father, […] why do you accept presents and payments from your children?” (John of Salisbury 1990: 135). The Pope then told the fable as an instruction to “measure neither our harshness nor that of secular princes, but attend to the utility of all” (1990: 136). Whilst the belly-v.-members version of the body-state mapping is obviously different to the head-to-feet version in terms of the source domain concepts, the argumentative import is arguably similar, i. e. a double focus on the obedience that the lower members owe their secular and spiritual authorities and at the same time on the duty of all body members to co-operate. But the Policraticus presents a further body politic model which is the very opposite of a well-ordered political universe; this is the “republic of the impious”: (2)

Its tyrannical head […] is the image of the devil; its soul is formed of heretical, schismatic and sacrilegious priests […]; the heart of impious counsellors is like a senate of iniquity; its eyes, ears, tongue and unarmed hand are unjust officials, judges and laws; its armed hand is violent soldiers […] its feet are those among the more humble occupations who oppose the precepts of the Lord and legitimate institutions. (John of Salisbury 1990: 193–194)

Here, the body-state analogy receives the opposite target input to that of a Christian kingdom. From the head down to the feet, the devil’s anti-state forms a body mirroring that of the proper state, but now the function of every body part is destructive. That such a devilish res publica was not just a theoretical horror vision becomes clear when we read John’s advice to the Prince in case 11

These anti-hierarchical aspects have been linked to the reformist 12th century “medieval humanism” movement, see Liebeschütz (1950: 22); Nederman (1990: xvi), Bass (1997: 203–210); Guldin (2000: 57–58) and to John’s condemnation of “tyranny” in book IV of the Policraticus and his involvement in the conflict between the Crown and the Archbishops of Canterbury (Struve 1978, 1984: 309).

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any of his subject body parts does rebel. Relying on the authority of the famous passage from the New Testament (Matthew, 18: 9, “If your eye or your foot offend you, root it out and cast it away from you”), John explains what seems to him to be the only possible solution: (3)

I think this is to be observed by the prince in regard to all of the members to the extent that not only are they to be rooted out, broken off and thrown far away, if they give offence to the faith or public security, but they are to be destroyed utterly so that the security of the corporate community may be procured by the extermination of the one member. Who will be spared, I say, by him who is commanded to do violence against even his own eyes? (John of Salisbury 1990: 140–141)

By highlighting such drastic measures to heal the body politic, as well as by painting the horror picture of the devil’s state and bringing biblical allusions into play, John uses the body-state metaphor not so much as the well-ordered classificatory schema, as stipulated by Tillyard, but instead as a stylistically sophisticated form of dialectical argumentation, designed to drive home specific and radical conclusions. His zealous plea in favour of amputation and utter destruction of revolting members of the political body is anything but the invocation of a “harmoniously ordered”, well-balanced Christian state; rather, it exposes the precarious and highly unstable condition of such a notion. The Policraticus thus provides neither a mere extension of a general ahistoric body-state mapping nor a simple application of “the” medieval worldview. So, is John of Salisbury’s particular use just an idiosyncratic version, which puts so much emphasis on combating the “republic of the impious” that the ideal notion of the healthy body politic is almost overshadowed? This question cannot be decided until we consult contrastive uses of the metaphor. Takashi Shogimen (2008) has compared the corporeal and medical metaphors in Western and Japanese medieval political treatises and pointed out that whilst the basic body-state mapping and its implied scenario of a therapy for an unhealthy state were shared by European and Japanese political theorists, their conclusions on how to deal with political crises were almost diametrically opposed: the medieval “European notion of medical treatment as the eradication of the causes of diseases highlighted coercive and punitive aspects of government […] while the Japanese notion of medical treatment as controlling physical conditions seems to create the image of government as an art of daily healthcare and preventative medicine” (Shogimen 2008: 103). In Shogimen’s analysis, John of Salisbury figures prominently as the first in the line of Western medieval thinkers which includes also Thomas Aquinas,


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Ptolemy of Lucca, Giles of Rome, Marsilius of Padua, John Wyclyf and Nicholas of Cusa, who advocated amputation or strong medication as a means of curing the body politic from its illnesses (Shogimen 2008: 89–91). There are of course also differences between the treatises of the 12th century Anglo-French Bishop John of Salisbury and the 15th century Cardinal of Cusa but they and others seem to share the culture-specific preference for radical crisis solution/ therapy in their application of the body-state metaphor. Shogimen traces this European tradition back to the early medieval reception of ancient Latin and Greek literature, e. g. Cicero’s concept of the medicus rei publicae in On Duties, which in turn was based on the metaphor of “punishment as cure” in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (2008: 91–92). For the Japanese side, the political healthcare imagery had its roots in religious and legal restrictions of traditional Japanese medicine; in the course of the 18th–19th centuries, both the source knowledge system and its metaphorical application “gave way to the Western counterpart of the eradication of pathological causes” (2008: 102–103). Shogimen thus demonstrates that culture-specific traditions in the development of a conceptual metaphor can be reconstructed and plausibly motivated with reference to specific textual continuities that differ across cultures. They help to make sense of an otherwise seemingly idiosyncratic variation of the metaphor and they provide testable hypotheses about cultural differences in the development of key concepts in politics. Further empirical corroboration is needed, e. g. for the “Western”/“European” side as regards other likely candidates for originator texts for body imagery such as the Pauline biblical tradition,12 with similar provisos for the Japanese side. But such a reconstruction offers a new way of generalizing over cultural and periodic ensembles of texts without pressing them into the straitjacket of a supposedly “worldview” of a particular age. Crucially, they are specific enough to formulate empirical hypotheses about metaphor variation at the concrete level of documented texts that build up to discourse traditions.

3.2. The body politic in the 17th century: Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan If Shogimen’s findings indicate a general Western focus on punitive-coercive political therapies, Susan Sontag, in her famous essay Illness as Metaphor, distinguished within Western culture a “classical” tradition “from Plato to, say, 12

For the medieval reception of biblical and patristic traditions of the political body metaphor see Nedermann and Forhan (1993); Bass (1997); Kantorowicz (1997: 42–86); Kempshall 1999.

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Hobbes”, which was based on the analogy of medical/physiological and political “balance” and implied a prognosis that was “always, in principle, optimistic” from “modern” diagnoses of fatal diseases in the body politic that led to the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century which favoured images of disastrous “master illnesses” such as cancer and required matching “radical cures” (Sontag 1978: 75, 78, 81–84). In view of John of Salisbury’s admiration for amputation measures cited earlier, the hypothesis of such a contrast may seem highly questionable but it could conceivably be defended by reference to Policraticus’ main purpose of warning the leaders of State and Church against rebellions-asdiseases so as to be able to avoid them. According to Sontag in the “classical” tradition, “the analogy between disease and civil disorder [was] proposed to encourage rulers to pursue a more rational policy” (Sontag 1978: 76). What, then, about the end-point of the classical tradition, as Sontag saw it, i. e., Thomas Hobbes’s analysis of the state in terms of an “Artificiall Man; though of greater stature and strength than the Naturall” in his opus magnum of 1651, Leviathan (Hobbes 1996: 9)? Body imagery is evident throughout this work; even the frontispiece gives a first, graphic presentation: it shows a crowned figure, holding a sword and a crosier in his hands, with the arms and the trunk consisting of a mass of miniature heads symbolizing the whole “Common-wealth”.13 The introductory chapter then provides a whole list of body-state mappings: (4)

[…] the Soveraignty is an Artificiall Soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body; The Magistrates, and other Officers of Judicature and Execution, artificiall Joynts; Reward and Punishment […] are the Nerves […] The Wealth and Riches of all the particular members, are the Strength; Salus Populi (the peoples safety) its Businesse; Counsellors […] are the Memory; Equity and Lawes, an artificiall Reason and Will; Concord, Health; Sedition, Sicknesse; and Civill war, Death. […] the Pacts and Covenants, by which the parts of this Body Politique were at first made […] resemble that Fiat, or the Let us make man, pronounced by God in the Creation (Hobbes 1996: 9–10).

This complex analogy extends the mapping a state is a body to a state is a person, including as it does source concepts such as memory, reason and will. 13

For the interpretation of the frontispiece see Brandt (1987); Mintz (1989); Malcolm (2002: 220–233); for the central function of the body-state metaphor in Hobbes’s political philosophy: Johnston (1986); Bertman (1991); Mintz (1996); Skinner (1996: 387–390), (2002: 177–208).


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At the same time it alludes to the tradition of contrasting the body natural and the body politic, which had acquired constitutional status to differentiate the personal and political obligations of the King in 16th century England (Kantorowicz 1997: 7–41 and passim). In chapter 23 of Leviathan, Hobbes gives a further list that matches “parts Organicall” with “Publique ministers”, e. g., “Protectors, Vice-Roys, and Governors” as “Nerves, and Tendons”, teachers, moral instructors and judges as the “Voice”, officers of justice as “Hands”, ambassadors and spies as “Eyes” and receivers of petitions as the “Eare” (Hobbes 1996: 167–169). There are some overlaps between the two lists of elements in these body/person-state analogies; the nerves, for instance, appear twice, once as Reward and Punishment, in the first list and then as the top echelon of “Publique Ministers” in the second. Curiously, head and heart are not included in the anatomy of the body politic in the text of Leviathan.14 Taken together, the two lists present a more differentiated political physiology than the one used in the Policraticus, as many more organs and bodily processes are mentioned. Furthermore, Hobbes’s physiological body concept is to some extent mechanistic: he thinks of the body’s life as “a motion of Limbs” and asks, rhetorically, “what is the Heart, but a Spring; and the Nerves, but so many Strings; and the Joynts, but so many Wheeles, giving motion to the whole Body?” (1996: 9). It follows that if the “body natural” can be thought of as a mechanism, so can the artificial “body politic” of the state. This perspective on bodies natural and politic as machines has been connected with the gradual replacement of traditional Galenic theories of medicine based on the notion of the “four humors” by the theory of blood circulation and to the general advent of mechanistic models in the sciences in the 17th century.15 Such motivations indicate a further explanatory dimension for the analysis of diachronic metaphor variation: source-related innovations can motivate changes in the metaphoric mapping and thus lead to new target concepts. However, some methodological caution is called for against a one-sided emphasis on the influence of new, scientific source-knowledge. Despite his well-documented acquaintance with the contemporary mechanical conception of the body promoted by René Descartes (1596–1650), and his admiration for William Harvey’s (1578–1657) theory of blood circulation,16 Hobbes falls back on pre-modern humoral terminology whenever it suits him, for instance when he describes political illnesses and diseases in chapter 29 of Leviathan. For instance, he likens conspiracies to “Wens, Biles, and Apostemes, engen14 15 16

The crowned sovereign’s head is, however, visually present in the frontispiece. See Hale (1971: 129–130); Harris (1998: 141–142); Guldin (2000: 89–91). See Johnston (1986: 123–124); Guldin (2000: 80–89).

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dered by the unnaturall conflux of evill humours” and “Popularity of a potent Subject” to “the effects of Witchcraft” (1996: 165, 230). His treatment of political illnesses is structured not by a specific scientific system but rather by commonsense assumptions about the degree of danger of illnesses and their occurrence in the human life cycle. He thus starts with Defectuous Procreation, i. e., lack of power of the sovereign (1996: 222). The next dangerous “Diseases of a Common-wealth” are caused by “the poison of seditious doctrines”, e. g. the “Example of different Government” in other nations, which is so seductive that the afflicted nation, like people with “hot blouds, that having gotten the itch”, “tear themselves with their own nayles”, or the “Reading of the books […] of the antient Greeks, and Romans” that incite Tyrannophobia which he compares to “the biting of a mad Dogge” (1996: 223–226). Those who claim the Church’s “Supremacy” over a worldly sovereign are likened to “Doctors, that hold there be three Soules in a man” (1996: 226), and the effects of divided sovereignty are compared to “Epilepsie, or Falling-sicknesse” or to the condition of siblings joined at birth (1996: 228). Further political diseases are described partly in terms of the new blood circulation theory (e. g. the “difficulty of raising Mony” as congestion of arteries obstructing the “passage for the Bloud”) but also in traditional terminology, e. g. “pleurisie”, “Lethargy”, “Consumption” (1996: 229–230). Overall, the body-state mapping and its political illnesses extensions in Leviathan represent an eclectic collection of physiological/medical notions of diverse provenance, all which are used to drive home the political conclusions that Hobbes is interested in. He retains the aspects of interdependence and hierarchy and the illness-therapy scenario that John of Salisbury had already highlighted. However, in comparison, Hobbes’s worst-case scenarios of political illnesses, e. g. Defectuous Procreation, Tyrannophobia, Epilepsie or Conjoined siblings are at least as drastic and shocking as John’s amputation scenes and fit Sontag’s view of the classical tradition of principally “optimistic” uses of political illness imagery even less than those of the 12th century (despite the residual presence of “humoral” concepts). As in the case of the Policraticus, close analysis of the textual metaphor in Leviathan puts into question any general assumption of a clear-cut change from one metaphoric concept to another. Hobbes’s depiction of the state as a body/person adds to and substantially modifies the traditional mappings but does not replace them completely. It includes scientific insights (in popularized form) but does not substitute them wholly for the more ancient source domain: besides blood circulation and machine anatomy, Galenic notions of the four humors and even witchcraft are still contenders for source input.


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3.3. Healing the body politic as a “justification” for genocide in the twentieth century The most infamous instance of political body/illness imagery in the 20th century can be found in Hitler’s Mein Kampf and in Nazi propaganda in general. Its traumatic memory is strong enough to be rekindled to this day; thus, a German politician who spoke of the “homogeneity of the German national body” (Homogenität des deutschen Volkskörpers) in the immigration debate was accused of “pouring oil into the fire” of racial conflicts (Die Zeit, 18 June 1998); President Ahmadinejad of Iran elicited outraged comparisons with Hitler for denouncing the state of Israel as a tumour that must be eradicated (The Times 9 December 2005). What is it that made Hitler’s use of body-state mappings so powerful that they resonate as a distinct form of rhetoric for several generations? For Hitler, the body-state mapping was less a “metaphor” in the rhetorical sense than the basis for his whole worldview. According to this ideology, Germany was threatened by a deadly disease that had been caused by the racial poisoning of its Nordic-Aryan populace by its Jewish enemy race: (5)

This poison [‘of Jewish origin’] was able to penetrate the bloodstream of our people unhindered and to do its work, and the state was not strong enough to master the disease. (Hitler 1933: 268; 1992: 224).


[The Jew] is and remains the typical parasite, a sponger who, like an infectious bacillus, keeps spreading as soon as a favourable medium invites him. And the effect of his existence is also similar to that of spongers: wherever he appears, the host nation dies out after a shorter or longer period. (Hitler 1933: 334; 1992: 277).

From these two passages, we can already identify a fundamental dichotomy of national health (= maximum race homogeneity) vs. fatal blood poisoning (= race mix), allegedly caused by the invasion of the “lowest” form of life, i. e. a hostile parasite (= “the Jew”). Deliverance from this perceived threat to the German nation’s life would come only if Hitler was empowered, as the healer, to destroy the supposed agent of disease.17 Behind this vision of a continuous fight for the nation’s survival lay a crude version of a theory of human races within the framework of popularized social darwinism, with the so-called “Nordic” or “Aryan” peoples as the only true “culture-creating” elite and the 17

For detailed analyses of Hitler’s biological and medical metaphor system see Hawkins (2001); Rash (2005), (2006: 160–169); Chilton (2005), Musolff (2007).

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“Jewish” race as its “culture-destroying” opposite.18 The associated healing narrative has also close conceptual links to the religious scenario of Man’s fall and redemption.19 In fighting the “Jew” as a poisonous parasite, Hitler claimed to fulfil “the will of the Almighty Creator” (Hitler 1933: 70; 1992: 60). It would be tempting to interpret this scenario of a desperate national/racial illness and a matching radical cure by way of genocide as the perverted version of a once respectable conceptual metaphor. Such a reading has in fact been hinted at by the early historians of ideas: Lovejoy, Tillyard and Kantorowicz all mention the topicality of aspects of Great Chain of Being and Body Politic metaphors to 1930s–40s politics.20 However, to tell the body politic metaphor’s history as a tragic life cycle ending in disgrace would be grossly over-simplifying. As we have already noted, the use of body-/illness-related metaphors in the context of racism and anti-Semitism is commonly judged since 1945 in Germany (but also internationally) to be akin to or reminiscent of Nazi ideology; such utterances are routinely criticized as following in the discursive and ideological footsteps of Hitler. We thus have some evidence of discoursehistorical memory influencing the continued use (or, in this case, discontinued use) of specific applications of political body-/illness metaphors. Side by side with this historically indexed (indeed, stigmatized) extension of the body-state mapping we also find ubiquitous use of metaphors from the same source domain: not just “paled” political terminology (body politic, head of state etc.) but also all matter of applications of body concepts to political topics.21 In addition, we find stylistically marked, ironic uses such as in Boris Johnson’s self-mockery as the toenail in the body politic (see above). In an historical article, the German magazine Der Spiegel described Germanic tribes that had settled in the Roman Empire as “ulcers/tumours in the body politic” of Rome (Geschwüre im Staatskörper von Rom; Der Spiegel 11/2007). Such uses cannot be linked directly to specific predecessor texts, for we understand them without necessarily connecting the toenail extension to Shakespeare’s Coriolanus or the imperial ulcers/tumours to genocidal ideology. On the other hand, a vaguely allusive sense is retained in these cases; after all, they


See Weindling (1989); Weikart (2004); for critical assessment of the degree of influence of social darwinism see Evans (1997: 137–144). 19 See Friedländer (1998: 87); Bärsch (2002: 291–298). 20 See Lovejoy (1936: 313); Tillyard (1982: 117); Kantorowicz (1997: xviii–xix). 21 See Musolff (2004a: 83–114, 2004b) for examples from the context of British and German debates on EU politics; e. g., anorexia, arteries, birth, blood clot, cyanide, death, fever, gall bladder, heart, head, health, liver, muscles, pill, poison, paralysis, sclerosis, surgery.


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are not “everyday” uses but rhetorically highly sophisticated instantiations of the body-state mapping that involve background knowledge (e. g. on body politic hierarchy, scenarios of fatal illnesses/history of Roman Empire etc.). A naïve ahistorical, purely “naturalist” reading of such uses would miss the pragmatic effect almost completely. The current uses of the body-state mapping thus include a mix of lexicalised metaphors, creative extensions of specific source concepts and reflective/allusive instances.

4. Conclusions: Historical memory and traditions of metaphor use The preceding sketches of three stages in the history of the body politic metaphor are not intended to suggest an overall narrative of its conceptual development: they leave open large gaps in chronology and inter-textual traditions. Nevertheless, these case studies can help us to outline some of the contours of a cognitively informed discourse history. On the one hand, they show continuities in the discursive (especially, argumentative and ideological) purposes and effects of the body politic metaphor and its extensions into illness-, therapy-, and specifically, radical cure-scenarios, which allow us to conceive of the feasibility in principle of reconstructing the discourse history of the metaphor. On the other hand, some early “history of ideas” hypotheses about the metaphor’s overall “life cycle” have been put in question, if not refuted. Medieval texts, such as John of Salisbury’s Policraticus did not prove to be less conceptually flexible and reflective than Renaissance uses nor did they or Hobbes’s Leviathan provide more “balanced”, optimistic conceptualisations of radical cures for an afflicted body than Hitler’s horror-scenarios of racial therapy. In comparison, the latter use might even be viewed as being the least “metaphorical” one in a rhetorical sense, when we consider its “literal” implementation in the Holocaust. The continued use of the metaphor after its conceptual nadir in Nazi propaganda, both in its reflective, historically indexed form and in ideologically unmarked contexts, provides a strong incentive to discard the “life-cycle” metaphor for conceptual history altogether, both in its “history of ideas” version and in an ahistorical cognitive understanding (see above, section 2). The model of a metaphor coinage or “meme” that turns into a “faded” terminological expression and is perhaps “revived” through renewed interpretation (on the basis of universal “embodied” cognitive structures) simply does not do justice to the complexity of co-existing uses at various levels of the metaphoric mapping, e. g., in the form of “faded” terminology (head of state) and in original coinages (toenail of body politic) and in history-sensitive, reflective uses (nation’s body = reminiscent of Nazi-rhetoric). In particular, the documented judgements

Metaphor in discourse history


about what is “politically correct” to say and what is not (e. g. the stigmatized status of the term Volkskörper in German public debate) provide empirical evidence of collective memories of the body-state metaphor’s historical role that are carried forward as a kind of historical stigma-index in all further uses. Taking account of this historical dimension does not mean at all that cognitive analysis is superfluous: on the contrary, it is indispensable to explicate the core mappings and scenarios that are required for the metaphor to be used. But it needs to be complemented by conceptual history and discourse history perspectives that allow us to reconstruct inter-textual relationships in textensembles, which form historical discourse traditions. The evidence for such traditions can be found in the socio-cultural memory of speakers and hearers who remember, for instance, that certain illness-scenarios are “politically incorrect” or that expressions such as body politic have a quasi-terminological historical resonance. Such memories may vary in relation to historical expertise, political interest, etc., but some residual degree of memory can in my view be expected for most users but evidently, further empirical research is needed in this regard. According to this view, cognitive and historical analyses do not contradict or exclude each other; their necessary mediation can be provided by a discourse history that relates the argumentative bias of metaphoric mappings and scenarios to the communicative effects in the socio-historical contexts. It is, after all, only in empirical discourses that continuities and discontinuities in the patterns of metaphor use can be identified. These diachronic patterns may be interpreted as “selective variation” in Croft’s (2000) model of language “evolution”: the discourse-historical approach thus need not exclude an “evolutionist” perspective either. However, the conditions for such variation and its results (i. e. the competitive success of certain metaphor versions over others) need to be socio-culturally situated and motivated, in order to become accessible to theoretical modelling and to critical reflection.

References Banks, Kathryn 2009 Interpretations of the body politic and of natural bodies in late sixteenth century France. In: Andreas Musolff and Jörg Zinken (eds.), Metaphor and Discourse, 205–218. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Bärsch, Ekkehard 2002 Die politische Religion des Nationalsozialismus [The political religion of National Socialism]. Munich: Fink.


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Bass, Allen M. 1997 The metaphor of the human body in the political theory of John of Salisbury: Context and innovation. In: Bernhard Debatin, Timothy R. Jackson and Daniel Steuer (eds.), Metaphor and Rational Discourse, 201–213. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Bertman, Martin A. 1991 Body and Cause in Hobbes: Natural and Political. Wakefield, New Hampshire: Longwood Academic. Brandt, Reinhart 1987 Das Titelblatt des Leviathan [The title page of Leviathan]. Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft 15: 164–186. Chilton, Paul 2005 Manipulation, memes and metaphors: The case of Mein Kampf. In: Louis de Saussure and Peter Schulz (eds.), Manipulation and Ideologies in the Twentieth Century, 5–45. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Croft, William 2000 Explaining Language Change: An Evolutionary Approach. London: Longman. Croft, William and D. Alan Cruse 2004 Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dawkins, Richard 1989 The Selfish Gene (New edition). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. de Baecque, Antoine 1997 The Body Politic: Corporeal Metaphor in Revolutionary France 1770– 1800. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Egan, Jim 1999 Authorizing Experience: Refigurations of the Body Politic in Seventeenth-Century New England Writing. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Evans, Richard J. 1997 In search of German Social Darwinism. In: Richard J. Evans (ed.), Rereading German History, 1800–1996: From Unification to Reunification, 119–144. London: Routledge. Fabiszak, Malgorzata 2007 A Conceptual Metaphor Approach to War Discourse and its Implications. Poznan: Adam Mickiewicz University. Fauconnier, Gilles and Mark Turner 2002 The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. New York: Basic Books. Friedländer, Saul 1998 Nazi Germany & the Jews. Vol. 1: The Years of Persecution, 1933–1939. London: Phoenix. Geeraerts, Dirk and Stefan Grondelaers 1995 Looking back at anger: Cultural traditions and metaphorical patterns. In: John R. Taylor and Robert E. MacLaury (eds.), Language and the Cognitive Construal of the World, 153–179. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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Gevaert, Caroline 2005 The anger is heat question: Detecting cultural influence on the conceptualization of anger through diachronic corpus analysis. In: Nicole Delbecque, Johan van der Auwera, and Dirk Geeraerts (eds.), Perspectives on Variation: Sociolinguistic, Historical, Comparative, 195–208. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Gibbs, Raymond W. 2006 Embodiment and Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goatly, Andrew 2007 Washing the Brain: Metaphor and Hidden Ideology. Amsterdam/New York: John Benjamins. Grady, Joseph, Todd Oakley and Seana Coulson 1999 Blending and metaphor. In: Raymond W. Gibbs and Gerard Steen (eds.), Metaphor in Cognitive Linguistics, 101–124. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Grady, Joseph and Christopher Johnson 2003 Converging evidence for the notions of subscene and primary scene. In: René Dirven and Ralf Pörings (eds.), Metaphor and Metonymy in Comparison and Contrast, 533–554. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Guldin, Rainer 2000 Körpermetaphern: Zum Verhältnis von Politik und Medizin [Body metaphors – the relationship between politics and medicine]. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. Hale, David George 1971 The Body Politic: A Political Metaphor in Renaissance English Literature. The Hague: Mouton. Hampsher-Monk, Iain, Karin Tilmans and Frank van Vree (eds.) 1998 History of Concepts: Comparative Perspectives. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Harris, Jonathan Gil 1998 Foreign Bodies and the Body Politic: Discourses of Social Pathology in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hawkins, Bruce 2001 Ideology, metaphor and iconographic reference. In: René Dirven, Roslyn Frank, and Cornelia Ilie (eds.), Language and Ideology. Vol. II: Descriptive Cognitive Approaches, 27–50. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Hitler, Adolf 1933 Mein Kampf. 23rd ed. Munich: Franz Eher Nachfolger. Hitler, Adolf 1992 Mein Kampf. Translated by Ralph Manheim. With an introduction by D. C. Watt. London: Pimlico. Hobbes, Thomas 1996 Leviathan. Ed. Richard Tuck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. John of Salisbury 1965 Policraticus sive de nugis curialium et vestigiis philosophorum. Ed. Clemens C. I. Webb. 2 vols. Reprint: Frankfurt am Main: Minerva. (Reprint of Clarendon Press edition, Oxford 1909)


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John of Salisbury 1990 Policraticus: Of the Frivolities of Courtiers and the Footprints of Philosophers. Edited and translated by Cary J. Nederman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Johnson, Mark 1987 The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Johnston, David 1986 The Rhetoric of Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes and the Politics of Cultural Transformation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Kantorowicz, Ernst H. 1997 The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology. With a new Preface by William Chester Jordan. Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press. First published 1957. Kempshall, M. S. 1999 The Common Good in Late Medieval Political Thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kövecses, Zoltán 1995 Anger: Its language, conceptualization, and physiology in the light of cross-cultural evidence. In: John R. Taylor and Robert E. MacLaury (eds.), Language and the Cognitive Construal of the World, 181–196. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Kövecses, Zoltán 2005 Metaphor in Culture: Universality and Variation. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press. Kövecses, Zoltán 2006 Language, Mind and Culture: A Practical Introduction. Oxford /New York: Oxford University Press. Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson 1999 Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books. Lakoff, George and Mark Turner 1989 More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Liebeschütz, Hans 1950 Mediaeval Humanism in the Life and Writings of John of Salisbury. London: The Warburg Institute. Lovejoy, Arthur O. 1936 The Great Chain of Being. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Maitland, Frederic William 2003 State, Trust and Corporation. Edited by David Runciman and Magnus Ryan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Malcolm, Noel 2002 Aspects of Hobbes. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Mintz, Samuel I. 1989 Leviathan as Metaphor. Hobbes Studies 2: 3–9.

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Mintz, Samuel I. 1996 The Hunting of Leviathan: Seventeenth-Century Reactions to the Materialism and Moral Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. Bristol: Thoemmes Press. Morissey, Elizabeth Green 2006 Suicide and the Body Politic in Imperial Russia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mouton, Nicolaas T. O. 2009 On the evolution of social scientific metaphors: A cognitive-historical inquiry into the divergent trajectories of the idea that collective entities – states and societies, cities and corporations – are biological organisms. PhD. dissertation, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen. Musolff, Andreas 2004a Metaphor and Political Discourse: Analogical Reasoning in Debates about Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Musolff, Andreas 2004b The heart of the European body politic: British and German perspectives on Europe’s central organ. Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development 25(5&6): 437–452. Musolff, Andreas 2007 Which role do metaphors play in racial prejudice? - The function of antiSemitic imagery in Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. Patterns of Prejudice 41(1): 21–44. Musolff, Andreas 2008 The embodiment of Europe: How do metaphors evolve? In: Roslyn M. Frank, René Dirven, Tom Ziemke and Enrique Bernárdez (eds.), Body, Language and Mind. Vol. 2: Sociocultural Situatedness, 301–326. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Musselmann, Elizabeth Green 2006 Nervous Conditions: Science and the Body Politic in Early Industrial Britain. Albany: State University of New York Press. Nederman, Cary J. 1990 Editor’s Introduction. In: John of Salisbury. Policraticus: Of the Frivolities of Courtiers and the Footprints of Philosophers. Edited by Cary J. Nederman, xv–xxviii. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nederman, Cary J. and Kate Langdon Forhan (eds.) 1993 Readings in Medieval Political Theory 1100–1400. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing. Olwig, Kenneth R. 2002 Landscape, Nature and the Body Politic: From Britain’s Renaissance to America’s New World. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Rash, Felicity 2005 Metaphor in Hitler’s Mein Kampf. metaphorik.de 9: 74–111. Rash, Felicity 2006 The Language of Violence: Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. New York: Peter Lang.


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Shakespeare, William 1983 The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Edited, with a glossary by W. J. Craig. London: Pordes. Shogimen, Takashi 2008 Treating the body politic: The medical metaphor of political rule in Late Medieval Europe and Tokugawa Japan. The Review of Politics 70: 77– 104. Skinner, Quentin 1978 The Foundations of Modern Political Thought. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Skinner, Quentin 1996 Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Skinner, Quentin 2002 Vision of Politics. Vol. 3: Hobbes and Civil Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Soll, Jacob 2002 Healing the body politic: French royal doctors, history, and the birth of a nation 1560–1634. Renaissance Quarterly 55: 1259–1286. Sontag, Susan 1978 Illness as Metaphor. New York: Vintage. Struve, Tilman 1978 Die Entwicklung der organologischen Staatsauffassung im Mittelalter [The development of the organismic concept of the state in the Middle Ages]. Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann. Struve, Tilman 1984 The importance of the organism in the political theory of John of Salisbury. In: Michael Wilks (ed.), The World of John of Salisbury, 303–317. Oxford: Blackwell. Tillyard, E. M. W. 1982 The Elizabethan World Picture. Harmondsworth: Penguin. (First published in 1943.) Weikart, Richard 2004 From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Weindling, Paul 1989 Health, Race and German Politics Between National Unification and Nazism, 1870–1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Yu, Ning 2008 The relationship between metaphor, body and culture. In: Roslyn M. Frank, René Dirven, Tom Ziemke and Enrique Bernárdez (eds.). Body, Language and Mind. Vol. 2: Sociocultural Situatedness, 387–407. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Zavadil, Jeffery 2009 Bodies politic and bodies cosmic: The Roman Stoic theory of the ‘Two Cities’. In: Andreas Musolff and Jörg Zinken (eds.), Metaphor and Discourse, 219–232. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

3. Cognitive Approaches to Syntactic Change

Where do beneficiaries come from and how do they come about? Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek and the typology of beneficiary Silvia Luraghi

Abstract In this paper, I examine two ways of coding beneficiary expressions in Ancient Greek: the plain dative and various prepositional phrases. The coding of Beneficiary through the dative case is attested throughout the history of the Greek language, and appears to be inherited from Proto-Indo-European. Prepositional phrases, on the other hand, are a more recent means of expression; their extension from space to more abstract relations is often documented in texts from different periods. My discussion addresses the following points: • Types of beneficiary: benefactive (as in Mary bought a book for John), behalf (as in I came on my friend’s behalf), and malefactive (as in My horse died on me). • The relation between recipient and various types of beneficiary: the dative and the preposition eis can indicate recipient, besides they can extend to both benefactive and malefactive. When other prepositions occur, which are not connected with recipient, benefactive and malefactive are based on different spatial metaphors. • A close connection is sometimes assumed to exist between benefactive and recipient: however, in Greek the most frequently used means of encoding benefactive (and behalf) do not also encode recipient. • Greek offers evidence for a possible connection between benefactive/behalf, and purpose, to the exclusion of recipient. The diachrony of beneficiary expressions in Ancient Greek can be followed by comparing the Homeric poems with Classical prose texts. Frequently used prepositions that encode both benefactive and behalf are pró (spatial meaning: ‘in front of’), hupér (spatial meaning ‘above’, virtually limited to behalf), and prós with the genitive (spatial meaning ‘from’); malefactive is coded by prepositions that indicate directional motion and/or contact, such as epí with the dative (‘on’), katá with the genitive (‘against’), and prós with the accusative (‘toward’). Often, semantic extension is not yet attested in Homer, and one can see its development in later literature. Having classified types of beneficiary, their means of coding, and the patterns of polysemy involved, I examine my findings under the assumption that different constructions convey different meanings. In this perspective, I attempt an explanation of different patterns of polysemy described above among recipient, benefactive, and malefactive.


Silvia Luraghi

1. Introduction* In this paper, I analyze different ways of coding beneficiary in Ancient Greek: through the plain dative and through prepositional phrases. The coding of beneficiary through the dative case is attested throughout the history of the Greek language,1 and appears to be inherited from Proto-Indo-European. Prepositional phrases, on the other hand, are a more recent means of expression. Greek prepositions originate from spatial adverbs; the extension of their meaning from space to more abstract relations is often documented in texts from different periods.2 Different coding possibilities for beneficiary have been the matter of previous research, which I survey in the course of this paper. In addition, I describe various types of beneficiary. The paper is organized as follows. In section 2 I sketch a brief typology of beneficiary roles. In section 3 I describe the Greek data, which are of special interest because they offer the possibility of following the diachronic development of beneficiary expressions from Homeric to Classical Greek. In section 4 I discuss the evidence provided by such diachronic analysis. The results are two-fold: in the first place, I suggest that Ancient Greek underwent a change with respect to the typology sketched in section 2. In the second place, I discuss different patterns of polysemy for various types of beneficiary, depending on the choice between dative coding and prepositional coding. In section 5 I summarize the findings and add some conclusions.


I thank Seppo Kittilä and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. 1 That is, during the time span that precedes the loss of the dative case in Byzantine Greek. 2 See Luraghi (2003).

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


2. The semantic role beneficiary 2.1. Prototypical and non-protypical beneficiary Following current definitions, beneficiary is the semantic role of a human participant who benefits from a state of affairs, such as for my mom in (1): (1)

I bought a present for my mom.

Typically, from the syntactic point of view, beneficiary is a role taken by adverbials, rather than by arguments, that is, beneficiary constituents are nonobligatory. Accordingly, (2) is also possible: (2)

I bought a present.

Lehmann et al. (2000: 68) describe the prototypical beneficiary situation3 as “a controlled one, it contains an actor, which is here the beneficient. In addition, a prototypical beneficiary situation includes an undergoer, which is made as benefactum to the benefit of the beneficiary. Beneficiary situations without beneficient or benefactum are not prototypical”.4 According to this definition, (1) refers to a prototypical beneficiary situation, because it contains a beneficient (the agent NP I), and a benefactum (the object NP a present). Nonprototypical situations are those in (3) and (4):5 (3)

This handbook is very useful for my students.6


The lawyer spoke for his client.


‘Situation’ is used here and in the rest of the paper to indicate all types of state of affairs. 4 “eine kontrollierte, enthält also einen Actor, der hier der Benefizient ist. In einer prototypischen benefaktiven Situation ist weiterhin ein Undergoer eingeschlossen, der als Benefaktum zugunsten des Benefiziärs geschaffen […] wird. […] Benefaktive Situationen ohne Benefizient oder ohne Benefaktum sind nicht prototypisch.” 5 Lehmann et al. (2000) do not add examples of these two types of non-prototypical beneficiary situations. 6 Note that This handbook is very useful is also possible: I do not consider such sentences here because the beneficiary is not expressed, albeit implied (if something is useful, it must necessarily be useful for somebody).


Silvia Luraghi

Example (3) does not contain a beneficient (there is no agent NP), but it does contain a benefactum, which here is syntactically the subject, i. e. the NP this book. Example (4), on the other hand, does not contain a benefactum, but it does contain a beneficient, the agent/subject NP the lawyer. Note further that example (4) may have the two readings in (4a) and (4b): (4a) (4b)

The lawyer spoke in favor of his client. The lawyer spoke on behalf of his client.

I will elaborate on the difference between the two possible interpretations (and the two possible states of affairs) in the next section.

2.2. Agentive and event beneficiary Smith (2005) focuses on the difference between beneficiary in the case that the state of affairs in which the beneficiary occurs is brought about by an agent or not, and writes that “One type [of beneficiary construction] always includes an agent, and it expresses the idea that the agent intentionally carries out the act for the affectee, and the act is presented as good for the affectee. I refer to this type as the ‘agentive benefactive’ construction. The other covers more general benefactive events, and I call this type the ‘event benefactive’ construction […] whenever an event is agentless, it is always expressed by an event benefactive construction” (2005: 41).7 Event beneficiary corresponds to non-prototypical cases in which, using the terminology in Lehmann et al. (2000), no beneficient occurs; agentive beneficiary, on the other hand, may correspond to prototypical beneficiary, if a benefactum also occurs, or it may correspond to non-prototypical beneficiary in which there is an agent, but no benefactum. So, with respect to the examples in section 2.1, agentive beneficiary includes beneficiaries in (1), (4a) and (4b), while event beneficiary corresponds to the beneficiary in (3). It needs to be remarked at this point that all types of agentive beneficiary, i. e. all beneficiary situations that contain a human beneficient, either prototypical or not, contain a possible controller, under whose intentionality the situation is brought about. As we will see in sections 3 and 4, the feature of intentionality plays an important role in the coding of beneficiary in Classical Greek, even where no activity is overtly indicated (i. e. with states). 7

I borrow Smith’s terminology in the rest of this paper, with some differences described below.

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


Note that my definition of event beneficiary in this paper does not correspond exactly to the definition in Smith (2005), because it does not include situations in which neither a beneficient nor a benefactum occur, such as the ones in (5) and (6) (from Smith 2010): (5)

ame ga yande-kure-ta rain subj stop-give-pst ‘It stopped raining (and I am thankful for that).’ (Japanese)


I get to go to the beach this weekend.

Rather, I consider instances of event beneficiary only those that do contain a benefactum, as shown in (3). As I will show in sections 3 and 4, possible occurrence or non-occurrence of a benefactum is one of the parameters that determines the choice of specific coding devices in Classical Greek. Let us now turn to conceptual differences between the three possible situations in which agentive beneficiary occurs. A crucial difference in the role taken by the beneficient emerges between (1) and (4a) on the one hand, and (4b) on the other. Both in the prototypical beneficiary situation (as in [1]) and in the case of (4a), the beneficient acts to the benefit of the beneficiary, but not in his/her place. In (4b), which I will call “behalf beneficiary”, the beneficient acts in the place of the beneficiary, that is, the beneficient substitutes for the beneficiary. In occurrences such as (4b) it is implied that the beneficient cannot perform the action and needs the beneficient to perform it in his/her place.8 Indeed, behalf beneficiary is not restricted to occurrences in which there is no benefactum, since one can say for example: (7)

I wrote a letter on his behalf

However, the relation of the benefactum to the beneficiary is complex: in (7) it is said that the letter was written on behalf of somebody, but this does not imply that the beneficiary will ever also be a possible recipient of the letter, or will gain control over it in some other way, while a normal reading of the prototypical beneficiary situation, as the one in (1), is that the beneficiary is also the intended recipient of the benefactum (even if this is not necessarily so). This point is made clear by example (8):


This type of beneficiary is also called “deputative-benefactive”; see Van Valin and LaPolla (1997: 384).

98 (8)

Silvia Luraghi

The vice president delivered a speech on behalf of the president, who was absent.

Here, the beneficiary benefits from the activity of the agent as a whole, rather than from the benefactum. The existence of a benefactum remains on the background, because the important fact in this case is substitution. This is also remarked in Kittilä (2005: 273), who writes: “whether the result of the event is regarded as beneficial is less relevant here”. Thus, events containing behalf beneficiary are similar to non-prototypical beneficiary events that do not contain a benefactum, even in cases in which a concrete object is made or effected to the benefit of the beneficiary. Indeed, as noted in Lehmann et al. (2000: 93), a beneficiary is prototypically conceived of as exerting some degree of control over the benefactum. This feature of beneficiary is common both to prototypical beneficiary, and to event beneficiary, thus overriding the possible occurrence of a beneficient. From the above discussion, it appears that there are two possible poles of the beneficiary event that may be profiled: either the beneficient or the benefactum. I will return to the relevance of this possible contrast in the next two sections.

2.3. Recipient and beneficiary A typology of beneficiary expressions has recently been put forward in Kittilä (2005).9 I will briefly summarize it here. Kittilä takes as his starting point the remark that, as commonly noted in research about beneficiaries, beneficiary is conceptually similar to another semantic role, recipient. Syntactically, the obvious difference between the two roles is that recipient is the role of an obligatory constituent, while beneficiary is non-obligatory (see also Kittilä and Zúñiga 2010). Let us now turn to the conceptual similarity. As remarked in the literature about beneficiary, in the prototypical beneficiary situation there may be no actual transfer (see Goldberg 1995: 37); still, under normal conditions it is assumed that the intention of the beneficient is to actually transfer the benefactum to the beneficiary. This makes the beneficiary similar to a recipient: the intentions of a beneficient are similar to the intentions of a giver, even if the beneficient does not necessarily also act as a giver. Such


See further Kittilä and Zúñiga (2010). An earlier typology of beneficiary can be found in Van Valin and LaPolla (1997: 382–384).

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


similarity is mirrored by the fact that in several languages, including English, this type of beneficiary can be encoded as recipient: (9)

I bought my mom a present.10

Kittilä uses the term “recipient-beneficiary” for beneficiaries such as my mom in (1) and (9). He then turns to beneficiaries that do not, in any case, gain control of a concrete entity as a result of benefaction. The latter broadly correspond to non-prototypical beneficiaries that occur in situations in which there is no benefactum, as defined in Lehmann et al. (2000: 68), and are agentive beneficiaries in the terms of Smith (2005). This type of beneficiary is exemplified in (4); a further example is (10): (10)

I told a lie for him (= in order to help him).

As we have already seen in section 2.1, beneficiaries of this type do not gain control over a concrete entity as a result of benefaction; still, the situation provides them with some concrete benefaction. I will use the term concrete beneficiaries for beneficiaries as the one in (10).11 As I have argued in 2.2, a further possible feature of benefaction is substitution. Substitution holds in states of affairs in which a person carries out an action on behalf of somebody else, as in (4b) and (8). According to Kittilä, this type of beneficiary, i. e. behalf beneficiary in my terminology, groups together with the second type (non-recipient, concrete beneficiary) in the coding of beneficiary role crosslinguistically. However, the Greek evidence points toward the existence of a distinction between the two, as we will see in sections 3 and 4. Based on a sample of genetically unrelated languages, Kittilä finds the following possible types of coding: (a) tripartite languages, which code recipient, recipient-beneficiary, and other types of beneficiary in three different ways; (b) recipient prominent languages, in which recipient-beneficiary is always coded in the same way as recipient; 10


This sentence, which contains a beneficiary in the dative-shift construction, has a pragmatic implication as opposed to the corresponding sentence in which the beneficiary is indicated by a PP (I bought a present for my mom); see e. g. Goldberg (1995). This feature of the construction goes beyond the scope of the present paper. Newman (1996: 220) speaks of “true” benefactives in cases in which there is no benefactum, because only in such cases it is possible to rule out a recipient interpretation.


Silvia Luraghi

(c) beneficiary prominent languages, in which all types of beneficiary are coded in the same way, but not in the same way as recipient; (d) neutral languages, in which recipient and all types of beneficiary are coded in the same way. In addition, some of the languages that mostly behave as those in one of the four types above, may be “fluid”, i. e. occasionally display features of one of the other types, especially in cases in which possible ambiguity may arise. An example, according to Kittilä (2005: 289–290), is Vietnamese, a “typical neutral language”, in which “there is an unambiguous encoding mechanism available for the role of beneficiary”. English conforms to type (a). In English, recipient-beneficiary can be coded in the same way as recipient, i. e. with a dative shift construction, but when prepositional phrases are used, recipient takes to, while recipient-beneficiary takes for, in much the same way as other types of beneficiary. However, the latter cannot be coded with dative shift, as shown in the examples below (from Kittilä 2005: 278): (11)

a. b. c. d. e. f.

s/he gave the book to me s/he gave me the book s/he baked a cake for me s/he baked me a cake s/he went to the marked for me *s/he went me to the market

In Kittilä’s sample, the only two languages which conform to type (a) are English and Icelandic.12 Note that in his (2005) paper, Kittilä does not mention the other non-prototypical type of beneficiary situation mentioned in Lehmann et al. (2000), which I have called event beneficiary adapting the terminology in Smith (2005), i. e. the one exemplified in (3), in which there is no agent (no beneficient).


Indeed most modern Indo-European languages that have an inflectional dative, such as German, the Slavic languages, and the Romance languages (which have an inflectional dative limited to certain pronouns), seem to conform to this type. I cannot discuss this matter here, since it goes beyond the scope of this paper, but it certainly deserves to be pursued further.

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


2.4. A typology of beneficiary From the above discussion, relevant features for the typology of beneficiary appear to be the following: (a) presence/absence of an entity over which the beneficiary gains control and that s/he may receive as a result of benefaction; (b) presence/absence of an agent or possible controller by whose intention the event of benefaction is brought about; (c) substitution of the beneficiary by another agent. Combining Kittilä’s typology with the remarks in Lehmann et al. (2000) and in Smith (2005), I will make use of the following types of beneficiary role: • recipient beneficiary (RB), as in (1): it occurs in prototypical beneficiary events, when both a beneficient and a benefactum also occur; • concrete beneficiary (CB), further subdivided into: ° concrete beneficiary/agentive (agentive CB): it occurs in beneficiary events in which a beneficient also occurs, but not a benefactum, as in (4a); ° concrete beneficiary/event (event CB): it occurs in beneficiary events in which a benefactum also occurs, but there is no beneficient (i. e. there is no agent), as in (3); • behalf beneficiary (BB), as in (4b), (7), and (8). As we will see in section 3, this typology does not account for all possible types of beneficiary in Classical Greek. Consequently, I will argue for the existence of a further type of event CB (see especially section 3.3.2).

2.5. Malefactive Also connected with beneficiary, albeit often only mentioned with no further discussion,13 is malefactive, the role of the entity (normally a human being) to the detriment of which a state of affairs is brought about, as in (12): (12)

John cheated on Mary.

In many languages of Europe, in which beneficiary is coded through the dative case, malefactive can also be coded in the same way. An example is Italian:


Cf. Kittilä and Zúñiga (2010).

102 (13)

Silvia Luraghi

Lo sciopero dei treni mi ha reso impossibile il ritorno the strike of+the trains me:dat has made impossible the return ‘The train strike made my return trip impossible.’

This pattern is typical of most Indo-European languages; a discussion of coding patterns with further examples can be found in Radetzky and Smith (2010). Alternatively, prepositions can occur, as in: (14)

The soldiers fought against the enemy.14

In the latter case, prepositions that code beneficiary and malefactive are different: in other words, when more semantic content is expressed the two opposite notions of benefaction and malefaction are kept distinct. I will elaborate on this topic below, discussing the Greek data (sec. 3 and 4).

3. The Greek evidence Classical Greek is the language of Attic-Ionic writers active approximately in the 5th century BCE. Earlier literary evidence is provided mainly by the Homeric poems, written in the 8th century BCE, but composed orally about three centuries earlier. The term Ancient Greek is used to refer to the complex of ancient Greek texts, starting with the earliest ones and up to the end of antiquity. Ancient Greek has an inflectional case system which comprises nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, and vocative. Cases code grammatical relations and partly semantic roles; besides, semantic roles are coded by adpositions (pre- or postpositions in Homeric Greek, later prepositions). In this section, I first survey the Classical Greek data, and show that Classical Greek conforms to type (a) in Kittilä (2005). Then I proceed to the Homeric evidence, and show that the extent to which the dative could code beneficiary was larger than in Classical Greek. Homeric Greek conformed to type (d), that is, neutral languages, with some fluid features needed for the coding of BB. As we will see, in the change from Homeric to Classical Greek a relevant role is played by features of different types of CB. 14

Note that expressions such as fight against somebody are not normally treated in discussions about the malefactive. However, they clearly should be, given the fact that the parallel expression fight for somebody is usually regarded as containing a beneficiary.

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


3.1. The dative The dative case typically codes recipient and addressee in Ancient Greek.15 Third arguments of verbs of giving and verbs of communication, which bear such semantic roles, take the dative, as shown in (15) and (16): (15)

dôka dé hoi NUƝWrUD give:aor.1sg ptc 3sg.dat mixing.bowl:acc ‘I gave him a mixing bowl.’ (Hom. Od. 24.275);


all’ áge moi tóde eipè ptc carry:imp.2sg 1sg.dat dem.n/a say:imp.2sg ‘but come on, tell me this’ (Hom. Od. 1.169).

In (15) the dative hoi ‘to him’ is the third argument of the verb dôka ‘I gave’ and has the semantic role recipient, while in example (16) the dative moi ‘to me’ is the third argument of the verb eipé ‘tell’ and has the semantic role addressee. Note that the recipient in (15) can be regarded as the prototypical instance of this semantic role, as argued in Kittilä (2005: 274). The construction in (15) is the prototypical instance of the “give-construction” in Greek.16 To a limited extent, verbs whose argument structure conforms to the giveconstruction may take a PP formed by the preposition eis (Attic) or es (Ionic) with the accusative.17 This preposition means ‘to’, and usually codes direction with motion verbs. The occurrence of eis with verbs of giving follows a common semantic extension, also shown by English to, which conceives of human beings as destinations, in case they are the target of an event of transfer. In Classical Greek, eis with the accusative extends to events of transfer limited to cases where transfer is abstract, as shown in (17) below. Besides, it can extend to events of communication, which can also be conceived of as abstract transfer. In (17) eis with the accusative occurs with the verb parékhein ‘offer’,


16 17

See Schwyzer (1950) for general reference on the use of Greek cases; for further reference on Homeric Greek, see Chantraine (1953). On the coding of semantic roles in Homeric and Classical Greek, see Luraghi (2003). See Newman (1998) on recipients and the give-construction. Greek prepositions may take one, two or three different cases. Of the ones considered in this paper, eis always takes the accusative and pró always takes the genitive, hupér and katá may take either the genitive or the accusative, while prós and epí may take one of three cases, genitive, dative, or accusative. On the complex semantic differences connected with case variation in Greek, see Luraghi (2003).


Silvia Luraghi

which typically takes the dative, while in (18) it occurs with the verb légein ‘say’: (17)

ouk àn aiskhúnoio eis toùs +pOOƝQDV neg ptc be.ashamed:opt.prs.m/p.2sg to art.acc.pl Greek:acc.pl sautòn VRSKLVWƝQ SDUpNKǀQ? refl.2sg.acc sophist:acc present:part.prs.nom ‘Would you not be ashamed to present yourself before the Greeks as a sophist?’ (Pl. Prt. 312a);


kaì álla OpJǀQ es autòn thumalgéa and indef.n/a.pl tell:part.prs.nom to dem.acc heart.grieving:n/a.pl épea word:n/a.pl ‘and telling him other bitter words, […]’ (Hdt. 1.129.1).

As I argued in Luraghi (2003: 112–116), eis with the accusative in such passages is not semantically equivalent to the dative. The preposition profiles a unidirectional trajectory, while the dative case simply indicates a certain degree of affectedness in Greek (see Luraghi 2003: 63–64). For example, in (18) the context makes it clear that the passage refers to unidirectional communication; see Luraghi (2003: 112). The notion of spatial trajectory is mapped on an abstract plane onto the notion of relation: indeed, eis is common in passages where a relation between human beings is described as holding from one person toward the other, as in philía eis tiná ‘friendship towards somebody’.18 Besides, eis with the accusative does not occur with the verb GtGǀPL ‘give’, i. e. it does not code the prototypical recipient. Thus, one cannot consider the preposition eis with the accusative as a possible alternative to the dative for the coding of recipient or addressee. This type of PP should rather be viewed as providing a coding means for some sort of other participant, which is similar to recipient or addressee, but occurs in a construction in which the profiled feature is not reception, but rather a relation, conceptualized as an (abstract) trajectory. Closely connected with beneficiary is the so-called dativus sympatheticus, which occurs in constructions that contain external possessors. Such construc18

Note further that eis does not code a concrete direction in events of motion with the singular of human landmarks in Classical Greek: with such landmarks, this type of PPs only codes abstract direction, in examples such as the ones mentioned in this section. See section 4.2.1 for further details.

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


tions are referred to by Lehmann et al. (2000: 69) as containing an “inherent relation” between beneficiary and benefactum. External possessor is typical of many ancient and modern Indo-European languages.19 An example from Homeric Greek is (19): (19)

têi per G۸GHND paîdes enì megároisin ólonto dem.dat ptc twelve child:acc.pl in palace:dat.pl die:aor.mid.3pl ‘Twelve of her children died in the palace. / Twelve children died on her in the palace.’ (Hom. Od. 24.603).

The German example below is from Lehmann et al. (2000: 69):20 (20)

Ihm ist der Vater gestorben 3sg.dat be:3sg art.nom father die:part ‘His father died.’ lit.: ‘The father died on him.’

The fact that the dative can be employed in such constructions is clearly related with its use in prototypical beneficiary and malefactive expressions. I am not going to discuss this matter here, because my main interest is in the meaning of alternative types of expression (i. e. on the semantic extension undergone by prepositions, as alternative to the dative).

3.2. Recipient beneficiary Recipient beneficiary, as described in Kittilä (2005), occurs in what Lehmann et al. (2000) regard as the prototypical beneficiary situation. It is coded through the dative case: (21)


têi idíai aretêi NRLQ‫ں‬Q W‫ں‬Q eleutherían kaì art.dat own:dat merit:dat common:acc art.acc freedom:acc also toîs állois HNW‫ڼ‬VDQWR art.dat.pl other:dat.pl gain:aor.mid.3pl ‘Through their own merit they also obtained freedom for all others.’ (Lys. 2.44);

See Haspelmath (1999) for reference on the languages of Europe, and Havers (1911) on the ancient Indo-European languages, including Greek. 20 Note that both examples can also be considered occurrences of malefactive.


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phaínetai dè kaì Samíois Ameinoklês appear:prs.3sg ptc also Samian:dat.pl Ameinocles:nom Korínthios QDXSƝJzV naûs SRL‫ڼ‬VDV Corinthian:nom shipwright:nom ship:acc.pl make:part.aor.nom téssaras four:acc ‘It appears that Ameinocles, a Corinthian shipwright, made four ships for the Samians.’ (Th. 1.13.3);


ho d’ ekéleue autoùs oikía te KHǀXW{L dem.nom ptc order:impf.3sg 3pl.acc house:n/a.pl ptc rfl.dat áxia tês EDVLOƝtƝV oikodomêsai worthy:n/a.pl art.gen royal:gen build:inf.aor ‘He ordered them to build him houses worthy of his royal power.’ (Hdt. 1.98.2).

In (21) the dative NP toîs állois ‘the others’ is a RB and the direct object W‫ں‬Q HOHXWKHUtDQ ‘freedom’ is the object received through benefaction; in (22) Samíois ‘the Samians’ is the RB of naûs téssaras ‘four ships’, and in (23) the pronoun KHǀXW{L ‘him’ is the RB of oikía ‘houses’. In addition, the preposition es/eis can also code recipient beneficiary to some extent, as shown in the following examples: (24)

ho Kroîsos tò pân es autòn HSHSRL‫ڼ‬NHH art.nom Croesus:nom art.n/a all:n/a to 3sg.acc make:plpf.3sg ‘Croesus had done all that he could for him.’ (Hdt. 1.85.1);


theôn mèn eis DQWKU۸SRXV dósis god:gen.pl ptc to man:acc.pl gift:nom ‘It is a gift of the gods for mankind.’ (Pl. Phlb. 16c);


SOHtǀ d’ ‫ں‬ khília tálanta PiWƝQ eis toùs more ptc than thousand talent:n/a.pl in.vain to art.acc.pl xénous DQƝOǀNyWHV mercenary:acc.pl pay:part.pf.nom.pl ‘We have paid at random more than a thousand talents for the mercenaries.’ (Isocr. Areop. 10).

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


In the above examples, the relation of benefaction is conceived of as unidirectional motion along a spatial trajectory.21 The occurrence of the preposition adds some semantic content, profiling the direction of the relation. In (26) the meaning may be close to purpose, as I will argue below, in section 4.3.

3.3. Concrete beneficiary In this section, I describe ways of coding agentive CB and event CB in Classical Greek. As remarked above, section 2.4, it turns out from the evidence that the division into these two sub-types of CB does not account for all relevant distinctions made in this language. As we will see in section 3.3.2, event CBs may contain some features of agency, even when the situation is not an agentful one. 3.3.1. Agentive CB When an agent, or beneficient, is present, CB is most often coded through the preposition hupér ‘over’ with the genitive, as shown in (27) and (28): (27)

kaì gàr pollà hupèr emoû eîpe ERƝWK{Q also ptc many:n/a.pl over 1sg.gen say:aor.3sg help:part.prs.nom emoí 1sg.dat ‘And indeed he said many things in my favor, supporting me.’ (Pl. Protag. 309b);


allà toùs tethneôtas en tôi SROpPǀL but art.acc.pl die:part.pf.acc.pl in art.dat war:dat axioûntes tôn QRPL]RPpQǀQ tugkhánein deserve:part.prs.acc.pl art.gen.pl think:part.prs.gen.pl receive:inf.prs pròs toùs hetérous hupèr DPSKRWpUǀQ ekindúneusan, toward art.acc.pl other:acc.pl over both:gen.pl run.risk:aor.3pl hupèr mèn tôn, hína PƝNpWL eis toùs over ptc art.gen.pl in.order no.longer to art.acc.pl


Note that the noun GyVLV ‘gift’ is based on the verb GtGǀPL ‘I give’, which takes a recipient NP in the dative as its third argument; however, the verbal noun can also occur without a complement. Thus, HLVDQWKU۸SRXV is an optional constituent.


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tethneôtas examartánontes SOHtǀ perì toùs die:part.pf.acc.pl fail:part.prs.nom.pl longer about art.acc.pl theoùs H[XEUtVǀVLQ, hupèr dè tôn KHWpUǀQ, god:acc.pl outrage:prs.3pl over ptc art.gen.pl other:gen.pl hína P‫ ں‬próteron eis W‫ں‬Q hautôn DSpOWKǀVL in.order not before to art.acc rfl.gen.pl leave:aor.3sg patríou timês DWXNK‫ڼ‬VDQWHV homeland:gen honor:gen fail:part.aor.nom.pl ‘[…] but thinking it right that those who had died in the war should receive the customary treatment, they risked combat against one of the parties in the interest of both: for the former, that they should cease from outraging the gods by their trespass against the dead, and for the latter, that they should not hasten away to their own land frustrated of an ancestral honor.’ (Lys. 2.9). In (27) the CB hupèr emoû ‘for me’ benefits from the event; note that the context makes clear that the agent helped the speaker in a discussion, rather than speak in his place. Thus, this is not an instance of BB. Example (28) contains various instances of CB: KXSqUDPSKRWpUǀQ ‘for both’, hupèr mèn tôn ‘for the former’, hupèr dè tôn ‘for the latter’. Again, these are not instances of BB: the passage does not say that the agent acts on behalf of the beneficiary, that is in the place of the beneficiary, but rather that the agent acts to the benefit of the beneficiary. 3.3.2. Event CB Let us now turn to occurrences which do not contain an agent, or beneficient. Especially with the verb ‘be’, CB can also be coded through the proposition prós with the genitive, as in (29): (29)

elpísas pròs KHǀXWR€ tòn NKUƝVPzQ eînai hope:part.aor.nom from rfl.3sg.gen art.acc oracle:acc be:inf.prs ‘Having thought that the oracle was in his favor.’ (Hdt. 1.75.2).

The spatial meaning of prós with the genitive is ‘from the side of’, and it usually occurs with human landmarks; another extension of its meaning is ‘by’ in agent phrases. I will discuss the extension to beneficiary below, in section 4. Note that (29) does not contain an agent; rather, it seems to be an occurrence of event beneficiary. However, an oracle is an entity which may exert influence, and thus, to some extent, control, over a human being. This point

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


is made clearer in (30), also with the verb be, where some agency is implied, albeit not clearly indicated (the subject of the verb be is not an agent), because the favorable entity is a human being, and the feature of agency implied here is intentionality: (30)

Kallías mèn dokeî moi mála pròs 3UǀWDJyURX Callias:nom ptc seem:prs.3sg 1sg.dat very toward Protagors:gen eînai be:inf.prs ‘It seems to me that Callias is all for supporting Protagoras.’ (Pl. Protag. 336d).

That the occurrences in (29) and (30) are not completely agentless is also shown by the fact that where no influence of some possible agent is implied we find another construction, which is the dative or a PP with eis and the accusative. Note that coding in this case is the same as for RB. Example (31) contains coordinated occurrences of both constructions: (31)

dokeîn oûn sphísi kaì nûn ámeinon eînai tèn seem:inf.prs ptc 3pl.dat and now better:n/a be:inf.prs art.acc heautôn pólin teîkhos ékhein, kaì idíai toîs refl.gen.pl city:acc wall:n/a have:inf.prs and particularly art.dat.pl polítais kaì es toùs pántas xummákhous citizen:dat.pl and to art.acc.pl all:acc.pl ally:acc.pl ǀSKHOLP۸WHURQ ésesthai useful:cmpr.n/a be:inf.fut ‘[…] that they now thought it fit that their city should have a wall, and that this would be more beneficial to both the citizens themselves and all allies.’ (Th. 1.91.6).

In (31) event CB is coded once through the dative (toîs polítais ‘for the citizens’), and the second time through a PP formed by es with the accusative (es toùs pántas xummákhous ‘for all the allies’). The examples discussed show that not all CBs in this section are the same regarding the event/agentive parameter. None of the examples discussed contains an acting beneficient; still, in (29) and (30) a potential beneficient is mentioned, who is not actively involved in the situation, but still exerts a relevant feature of agency, that is intentionality as in (30) or control as in (29). Note that neither (29) nor (30) contain a benefactum (in fact, they contain an intransitive predicate that indicates a state, the verb ‘be’).


Silvia Luraghi

In (31), on the other hand, we find the adjective ǀSKHOLP۸WHURQ ‘more useful’, a benefactum, teîkhos ‘a wall’, but no mention is made of an agent or beneficient. Thus, only this last example contains a real event CB. 3.3.3. Means of coding and types of CB To sum up, CB is coded through hupér with the genitive in case it occurs with an agent who brings about the state of affairs which is beneficial for the beneficiary. In cases of event beneficiary, the coding is twofold. CB may be coded as RB, that is, either through the dative or through a PP constituted by eis with the accusative. This type of coding occurs when no mention is made of any human entity (or entity somehow capable of control) other than the beneficiary. I will refer only to this type of CB as “event CB”. In the case some controlling entity is mentioned, which in spite of not having an active role in bringing about the benefit for the beneficiary can influence the situation through intentionality, prós with the genitive is used. I will refer to this type of CB as “semi-agentive CB”.

3.4. Behalf beneficiary Similar to CB, BB is also coded through hupér with the genitive, as shown in (32) and (33): (32)

kaì SD~VƝVWK¶ autòs mèn oudèn hékastos SRL‫ڼ‬VHLQ and stop:inf.m/p 3sg.nom ptc neg each:nom make:inf.aor HOSt]ǀQ, tòn dè SOƝVtRQ pánth’ hupèr autoû hope:part.prs.nom art.acc ptc neighbor:acc all:n/a over 3sg.gen práxein do:inf.aor ‘and if each man will cease to expect that, while he does nothing himself, his neighbor will do everything for him.’ (Dem. 4.7);


ouk éni d’ autòn argoûnt’ oudè toîs neg one:dat ptc 3sg.acc be.idle:part.prs.acc neg art.dat.pl phílois epitáttein hupèr hautoû ti poieîn friend:dat.pl order:inf.prs over refl.gen indef.n/a do:inf.prs ‘One who is himself idle cannot possibly call upon his friends to do something in his place.’ (Dem. 2.23).

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


Both in (32) and in (33) reference is made to an agent who acts not only to the benefit, but in the place of the beneficiary, thus substituting for the beneficiary.

3.5. Malefactive Similar to beneficiary, malefactive (sometimes also called “maleficiary”, see Kittilä and Zúñiga 2010) is often coded through the dative case. An example is autoîs ‘to them’ in (34): (34)

anth’hôn ho tòn nómon titheìs for rel.gen.pl art.nom art.acc law:acc make:part.prs.nom thánaton autoîs HSRtƝVH W‫ں‬Q ]ƝPtDQ death:acc 3pl.dat make:aor.3sg art.acc penalty:acc ‘For these reasons the legislator established the death penalty for them.’ (Lys. 1.34).

Depending on specific verbs, malefactive can also be coded through eis with the accusative, again similar to RB, as in (35): (35)

examartánein eis W‫ں‬Q gunaîka W‫ں‬Q HP‫ں‬Q wrong:inf.prs to art.acc woman:acc art.acc poss.1sg.acc ‘to wrong my wife’ (Lys. 1.26).

In (35) the occurrence of the preposition is conditioned by the verb examartánein ‘to wrong somebody’; note however that the eis NP is not obligatory.22 Other ways to code malefactive include a number of prepositional phrases, with prepositions that indicate directional motion and mean ‘against’: (36)

ei Phílippos láboi kath’ KƝP{Q toioûton kairón if Philip:nom take:opt.aor.3sg against 1pl.gen such:acc chance:acc ‘If Philip had such a chance against us.’ (Dem. 1.24);


hoì ouk rel.nom.pl neg strateúesthai fight:inf.prs.m/p


epì nóon poiéousi 3pUVƝLVL on mind:acc make:prs.3pl Persian:dat.pl epì Ludoús on Lydian:acc.pl

The verb examartánein ‘to wrong’ is not attested in Homer; consequently a diachrony of the constructions in which it occurs cannot be provided.


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‘(the gods), who do not put into the Persians’ mind to do an expedition against the Lydians’ (Hdt. 1.71.4); (38)

all’ DJǀQL]yPHQRV pròs álla V۸PDWD kaì but fight:part.prs.nom toward other:n/a.pl body:n/a.pl and makhómenos anankázoito diágein tòn bíon? fight:part.prs.nom be.forced:opt.prs.3sg lead:prs.inf art.acc life:acc ‘(if) he were forced to pass his days in contention and strife with other people?’ (Pl. Rep. 579d).

In (36) malefactive is coded through katá with the genitive (NDWK¶KƝP{Q ‘against us’); in (37) we find a malefactive coded through epí with the accusative (epì Ludoús ‘against the Lydians’); finally, in (38) the malefactive PP contains prós with the accusative (SUzViOODV۸PDWD ‘against other people’); a further occurrence of this type of PP is pròs toùs hetérous ‘against one of the parties’ in (28).

3.6. Beneficiary in Homeric Greek 3.6.1. Recipient beneficiary In Homeric Greek, the extent to which the dative can code beneficiary is wider than in later prose writers. In the first place, the dative codes RB, as in (39) and (40): (39)

têi d’ ára díphron heloûsa dem.dat ptc ptc seat:acc take:part.aor.nom ‘having fetched a seat for her’ (Hom. Il. 3.424);


álloisin dè súas siálous DQWLWiOOǀ édmenai other:dat.pl ptc pig:acc.pl fat:acc.pl feed:prs.1sg eat:inf.prs.m/p ‘I feed fat pigs for others to eat.’ (Hom. Od. 14.41).

Contrary to Classical Greek, RB cannot be coded through eis with the accusative in Homeric Greek. Thus, RB is always coded in the same way as recipient. 3.6.2. Concrete beneficiary The dative can code both agentive and event CB in Homeric Greek:

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek



toîsin dè .KU~VƝV megál’ eúkheto dem.dat.pl ptc Cryses:nom greatly pary:impf.3sg ‘For them Cryses prayed greatly.’ (Hom. Il. 1.450);


kaì tót’ épeitá toi eîmi Diòs potì […] and then immediately 2sg.dat go:prs.1sg Zeus:gen toward dô palace:acc.pl ‘and then I will immediately go for you to Zeus’ palace.’ (Hom. Il. 1.426);


ouk àn emoí ge HOSRPpQǀL tà génoit’ neg ptc 1sg.dat ptc hope:part.prs.dat dem.n/a be:aor.opt.3sg ‘Those things will not become true for me, albeit hoping.’ (Hom. Od. 3.228–229).

In section 3.3 we saw that the dative can code event CB. In Homer, the dative occurs both with event CB, as in (43), and with agentive CB. In (41) it is said that an agent, Cryses, performs the action of praying to the benefit of someone. Similarly, in (42) the speaker promises to go to Zeus to the benefit of the hearer.23 The Homeric data does not seem to support the existence of a specific coding for semi-agentive CB, as described in sections 3.3.2 and 3.3.3. In passages where prós with the genitive occurs with the verb ‘be’ and with human or divine landmarks, the PP rather indicates source, as I will show below in section 4.2.3. It must also be remarked that PPs with eis and the accusative do not occur in any type of beneficiary expression in Homeric Greek. As we have seen above, in Classical Geek, eis with the accusative provides an alternative both for RB and for event CB. With verbs of fighting, one finds a small number of occurrences such as the one in (44): (44)


mémasan dè kaì hôs husmîni mákhesthai khreioî be.eager:plpf.3pl ptc and so battle:dat fight:inf.prs necessity:dat

Note that neither in (41) nor in (42) is it implied that the agent acted in the beneficiary’s place, because the beneficiary could not perform the action; in other words, the context makes it clear that these are not occurrences of behalf beneficiary.


Silvia Luraghi

DQDQNDtƝL, pró te SDtGǀQ kaì prò gunaikôn urgent:dat before ptc child:gen.pl and before wife:gen.pl ‘But even so were they eager to fight for utter need, for their children’s sake and their wives.’ (Hom. Il. 8.56–57). The PP SUyWHSDtGǀQNDuSUzJXQDLN{Q ‘for their children and wives’ indicates an agentive CB in (44). Note that the dative usually occurs with the same verb, as shown in (45): (45)

KySSǀV KRL SDUj QƝXVu sóoi makhéointo how 3sg.dat by ship:dat.pl safe:nom.pl fight:prs.opt.3pl Akhaioí Achaean:nom.pl ‘how the Achaeans fight safely for him by the ships’ (Hom. Il. 1.344).

The spatial meaning of pró is ‘before’, ‘in front of’. I will discuss the semantic extension in section 4. Here I would like to point out that the limited extent to which this type of coding occurs indicates that the semantic extension is based on a metaphor that has not undergone grammaticalization. Thus, it does not constitute a stable meaning of the preposition, and this type of PP cannot be considered a way of coding agentive CB in Homer.

3.6.3. Behalf beneficiary In Homeric Greek, BB is coded through hupér with the genitive, as in Classical Greek. This is shown in (46): (46) 

3KRtEǀL WK¶ KLHU‫ڼ‬Q KHNDWyPEƝQ UKp[DL KXSqU Phoebus:dat ptc sacred:acc sacrifice:acc offer:inf.aor over 'DQD{Q Greek:gen.pl ‘to offer a sacred sacrifice to Phoebus on behalf of the Greeks’ (Hom. Il. 1.444).

As we have seen in section 3.3.1, this type of PP could also code agentive CB in Classical Greek. This is not true of Homeric Greek, where agentive CB is coded through the dative. In a small number of occurrences, BB is coded through prós with the genitive, as in (47):

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek



hoí te thémistas pròs Diòs eirúatai dem.nom.pl ptc law:acc.pl.f toward Z.:gen guard:prs.m/p.3pl ‘They uphold judgments on behalf of Zeus.’ (Il. 1.238–239).

Note that in example (47) the beneficiary is intentionally involved in the situation, i. e. the beneficient acts on behalf of the beneficiary because this is the beneficiary’s intention. In (46), on the other hand, intentionality is not necessarily present on the side of the beneficiary: the beneficient may act on behalf of the benficiary even if the latter is unaware of this, or not in accordance. The difference is also made clear by the meaning of prós with the genitive in source expressions, which will be examined in section 4.2.3. As we have seen in section 3.3.2, prós with the genitive rather codes semiagentive CB in Classical Greek. So in the case of the two PPs in (46) and (47), i. e. hupér with the genitive and prós with the genitive, we find an extension from BB to CB, albeit in different conditions and with different types of CB: while hupér with the genitive extends to agentive CB, prós with the genitive extends to semi-agentive CB. A further difference is that hupér with the genitive still codes BB in Classical Greek, while prós with the genitive does not. In sum, Homeric Greek displays a wide use of the dative not only for RB, but for CB as well; however, it presents a well established distinct coding for BB. This fact provides evidence for a special status of BB. 3.6.4. Malefactive Malefactive can be coded through the dative, as shown in (48) and (49): (48)

NDNj Gq 7U۸HVVL PHGpVWKƝQ ill:n/a.pl ptc Trojan:dat.pl devise:impf.m/p.3pl ‘They were devising ills for the Trojans.’ (Hom. Il. 4.21);


W{LGH G¶ HJ۶Q DXWzV WKǀU‫[ڼ‬RPDL dem.dat ptc 1sg.nom self:nom arm:fut.m/p.1sg ‘I myself will put on my armor against him.’ (Hom. Il. 7.101).

Otherwise, malefactive can be coded through prós with the accusative, as in (50): (50)

pròs Trôas mákheai toward Trojan:acc.pl fight:prs.2sg “you fight against the Trojans” (Hom. Il. 17.471).


Silvia Luraghi

Classical Greek continues the same constructions as in Homeric Greek for the coding of malefactive, and adds some other prepositional phrases which, as we will see in section 4, have a directional meaning similar to the meaning of prós with the accusative.

4. A diachrony of Ancient Greek beneficiary In the present section, I give a diachronic evaluation of the data surveyed in section 3. In section 4.1 I discuss the Greek evidence in the framework of the typology of beneficiaries sketched in section 2. In section 4.2 I describe the semantic extension to beneficiary and malefactive of the relevant prepositions, starting from their concrete spatial meaning.

4.1. From Homeric to Classical Greek 4.1.1. Homeric Greek: primarily a neutral language The Homeric Greek data attest to a situation in which most types of beneficiary could be coded through the dative, with some prepositional phrases occurring possibly in passages which need disambiguation. Only BB displayed a more complex coding, requiring a preposition. With respect to the typology in Kittilä (2005), Homeric Greek is a neutral language, i. e. it belongs to the type in which recipient and all types of beneficiary are coded in the same way, with some fluid features, which concern BB. One may wonder why BB displays such a special status. In the first place, one may observe that, when BB is coded in the same way as CB, ambiguity may arise, as shown by the two possible interpretations of example (4) discussed in section 2.1. However, this is not the only answer. Indeed, BB is different from all other types of beneficiary because it adds the notion of substitution to the notion of benefit. This makes BB the type of beneficiary which is cognitively most complex; consequently it needs more complex coding. Note further that the dative can also code malefactive, even though PPs are also comparatively frequent. 4.1.2. Classical Greek: a tripartite language In Classical Greek, prepositional coding is also established for CB, with a distinction between agentive CB and event CB. In addition, event CB presents

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


two possible codings that indicate the existence of different types, event CB and semi-agentive CB. A further difference is constituted by the fact that RB is still most frequently coded through the dative, but an alternative construction, eis with the accusative, also occurs, which can further code event CB. Thus, Classical Greek is a tripartite language, in the terminology of Kittilä (2005).24 Changes are summarized in the following two tables: Table 1. Recipient and beneficiary coding in Homeric Greek dative

prepositional phrase

+ + + – +

– – – + +

recipient recipient beneficiary concrete beneficiary behalf beneficiary malefactive

Table 2. Recipient and beneficiary coding in Classical Greek

recipient recipient beneficiary concrete beneficiary/event concrete beneficiary/semi-agentive concrete beneficiary/agentive behalf beneficiary malefactive



other prepositions

+ + + – – – +

– + + – – – +

– – – + + + +

4.1.3. Degrees of beneficient vs. benefactum relevance The three-fold way of coding CB points toward two possible participants of a beneficiary event besides the beneficiary, i. e. the beneficient, or agent, and the benefactum, or object. Note that agent CB is coded in the same way as BB. As I have remarked in section 4.1.1, BB has a special status, because it substitutes for the beneficiary. Indeed, as we have seen in 2.2, the notion of substitution is so relevant for BB that it overrides the parameter connected with the presence/ absence of a benefactum. Thus, BB is the type of beneficiary for which the activity of the beneficient is viewed as most relevant. 24 As we have seen in section 3.1, PPs with eis are not a possible alternative for recipient. When they occur in constructions that normally contain a dative, they add some different semantic content; in addition, they never occur with the verb ‘give’.


Silvia Luraghi

Next is agentive CB: since there is no concrete benefactum of which the beneficiary can possibly gain control, benefit only derives from the beneficient’s activity. In the case of semi-agentive CB there is no overt mention of an activity performed by the beneficient; still a possible controller who could play the role of beneficient is mentioned, although it is not conceptualized as an agent or actor. Again, there is no benefactum, so the beneficiary only benefits from the intentions of the possible beneficient. In the case of event CB, no mention of any controlling entity is made. On the other hand, this type of CB may occur with a benefactum; thus, the beneficiary may get control over a concrete entity, much in the same way as in cases of prototypical beneficiary, that is, RB. The similarity regards the existence of a benefactum: accordingly, both RB and event CB are possible recipients, and can be coded as such at all stages of the Ancient Greek language. With RB, both the beneficient and the benefactum occur. In principle, the beneficiary benefits from both the activity of the beneficient and the eventual control over the benefactum. However, it is the second type of benefit which seems to be cognitively more salient, as shown by the fact that this type of beneficiary is frequently coded as a recipient crosslinguistically. Thus, a scale can be drawn that represents degrees of salience for beneficient and benefactum: beneficient salient +beneficient/–benefactum25

6 4 4 4 44 7 4 4444 8


agent CB


event CB2

event CB1

benefactum salient +beneficient/+benefactum (prototypical beneficiary) RB

Figure 1. Beneficient vs. benefactum salience

4.2. Semantic extension of prepositions Prepositions involved in beneficiary and malefactive coding are eis with the accusative, pró with the genitive, prós with the genitive, hupér with the genitive, katá with the genitive, epí with the accusative, and prós with the accusative. Greek prepositions derive from adverbs which, as shown by the Homeric Greek evidence and evidence from the other Indo-European languages, originally had spatial meaning (cf. Chantraine 1953: 82). Thus, abstract meanings have been acquired in the course of time through metaphorical semantic extension, as I will show in the next sections. 25 In the case of BB, as noted in section 2.2.

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


4.2.1. Es/eis The preposition eis with the accusative is the most common way of coding direction, both in Homer and in later writers. An example is (51): (51) 

NDu JjU HW~JNKDQRQ SU۸LPƝQ HLV iVWX RtNRWKHQ and ptc happen:impf.1sg yesterday to town:n/a from.home DQL۶Q climb:part.prs.nom ‘Yesterday, I happened to be going up to town from home.’ (Pl. Symp. 172a).

A further occurrence can be found in example (61), section 4.2.5. In Homeric Greek, human landmarks can also occur with this preposition, while later eis remains mostly limited to non-human landmarks in direction expressions (see section 3.1). On the other hand, as I have shown in section 3.1, this preposition occurs with human landmarks in cases in which a relation between human beings is indicated, and in cases in which a participant, which could normally be coded as recipient or addressee, is conceived of as being the target of an abstract trajectory. Thus, the relation of one human being to another is conceived of as a trajectory, and the human landmark is conceived of as the destination of the trajectory. The same holds when eis is extended to beneficiary, as well as to malefactive: note that the beneficiary or malefactive reading depends on other semantic information provided by the context, and not on the meaning of the preposition, in much the same way as in the case of the dative, which can also code both roles. It must be remarked, as highlighted in section 3, that eis did extend to beneficiary after Homer, including RB, but it did not extend to recipient; it occurs with verbs that usually take a recipient only in exceptional occurrences, and not with the verb give. Indeed eis did eventually extend to recipient in Byzantine and Medieval Greek, so extension to beneficiary preceded extension to recipient. This order of extension is in accordance with findings regarding Nilo-Saharan languages described in Heine (1990). According to Heine, semantic extension concerning the roles mentioned here is as shown in Figure 2. The difference between allative and goal, as defined in Heine (1990), is that goal occurs with abstract landmarks and gerunds. Dative refers to all semantic roles typical of the dative case, thus including recipient. I will discuss the relation between allative, beneficiary and purpose in section 4.3.


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allative goal purpose reason

… benefactive dative

… Figure 2. Semantic extension of allative markers in Nilo-Saharan languages (from Heine 1990: 131)

Another abstract meaning of eis, already present in Homeric Greek, is purpose, as in (52): (52)

Kr PH PiO¶ HLV iWƝQ NRLP‫ڼ‬VDWH ptc 1sg.acc much to damage:acc put.to.sleep:aor.2pl QƝOpw K~SQǀL harmful:dat sleep:dat ‘You put me to sleep to my damage with harmful sleep.’ (Hom. Od. 12.372).

I will return to this example in section 4.3.

4.2.2. Hupér+genitive The spatial meaning of hupér with the genitive is ‘over’, ‘above’: the preposition profiles a relation of verticality without contact between a trajector and a landmark. An example is QƝzVK~SHU ‘over the ship’ in (53): (53) 

G‫ ں‬WyWH NXDQpƝQ QHSKpOƝQ pVWƝVH .URQtǀQ ptc then dark:acc cloud:acc lay:aor.3sg of.Cronos:nom QƝzV K~SHU ship:gen over ‘The son of Cronos laid a dark cloud over the ship.’ (Hom. Od. 12.405–406).

Note that a trajector placed above or over a landmark may hide it from sight. This explains the occurrence of the same PP in (54):

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek



teîkhos eteikhíssanto neôn húper wall:n/a build:aor.mid.3pl ship:gen.pl over ‘They built a wall to defend the ships.’ (Il. 7.449).

In (54), the wall is built in order to protect the ships, and hide them from the enemy, but it is not placed above them. However, the relevant feature here is the covering relation: the trajector hides the landmark from the sight of a possible viewer, as shown in figure 3:



Figure 3. Covering relation between trajector and landmark in example (54)

Covering also means that the trajector is seen by a viewer as if it were in the place of the landmark: in other words, for a viewer the trajector substitutes for the landmark. The notion of substitution provides a further path of extension that brings the preposition to code BB. A BB is typically an agent that acts in the place of somebody else, i. e. as his/her substitute. As shown in section 3.6, this extension had already taken place in Homeric Greek. Later on, in Classical Greek prose, hupér with the genitive also extended to agentive CB. Both a BB and a CB receive a benefit from somebody else’s activity. In addition, in the case of BB, the activity is performed in the place of the beneficiary. The extension from BB to CB is possible if the notion of substitution is left on the background, and only the notion of agency is profiled. In addition, hupér with the genitive also extends to purpose after Homer, as shown in (55) and (56): (55)

HWyOPƝVDQ gàr […] ou mónon hupèr tês hautôn dare:aor.3pl ptc neg only over art.gen rfl.gen.pl VǀWƝUtDV kinduneúein, allà kaì hupèr tês tôn safety:gen run.risk:inf.prs but also over art.gen art.gen.pl SROHPtǀQ eleutherías DSRWKQ‫ڼ‬LVNHLQ enemy:gen.pl freedom:gen die:inf.prs ‘Not only did they dare to run risk for their own safety, they also died for the enemy’s freedom.’ (Lys. 2.68);

122 (56) 

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KyWL Q€Q RX SHUu Gy[ƝV RXG¶ KXSqU PpURXV NK۸UDV that now neg about glory:gen neg over part:gen land:gen SROHPR€VLQ fight:prs.3pl ‘[…] that now they are not fighting for glory or for a piece of land.’ (Dem. 1.5).

In the above examples, it is the notion of substitution or exchange that enables extension of the PP to purpose. The purpose of the agent’s activity is conceived of as the entity that the agent receives in exchange for the activity. Thus, in (55) safety is what the agent could receive in exchange for running risks; similarly, in (56) it is said that someone will not receive freedom or a piece of land as exchange for the activity of fighting. I will return to the meaning of hupér with the genitive below in section 4.3.

4.2.3. Prós+genitive The meaning of prós is ‘(near)by’, ‘on the side of’. PPs formed by prós with the genitive indicate motion originating near a landmark, most often human or divine. They frequently occur in expressions of origin, usually where no concrete motion is indicated, as in (57): (57) 

SUzV JjU 'LyV HLVLQ KiSDQWHV [HvQRt WH toward ptc Z.:gen be:prs.3pl all:nom.pl stranger:nom.pl ptc SWǀNKRt WH poor:nom.pl ptc ‘From Zeus come all strangers and poor people.’ (Od. 6.207).

In example (57), Zeus is conceived as the origin of strangers and the poor. The translation is only partly accurate: the verb in the sentence is the verb ‘be’, which, together with the preposition, acquires the meaning of English ‘to be from’. Indeed, origin can be conceived of as a type of abstract motion: if one is from somewhere, he or she must have been at his or her original location at some moment in the past. In Homer, as shown in section 3.6, this type of PP extends to BB. Let us now see how this semantic extension comes about. In an event of motion, the starting point of a trajectory is known, as opposed to its ending point, which can only be known after the motion has ended, as shown in figure 4:

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek





× Figure 4. Source/origin and direction/goal in motion events

The origin is conceived of as a region from which a trajector moves. Because the origin is normally known, it can be conceived of as controlling the entity (trajector) it originates. In cases such as (57), a human or divine landmark is conceived of as holding control over a state of affairs, albeit not acting. Note that control is one of the prototypical features of agents: consequently, the notion of behalf in this case implies that the beneficiary has some role in bringing about the state of affairs, rather than simply having a benefit from it. Already in Homer, prós with the genitive acquired the meaning of a locative, ‘on the side of’, with nouns denoting spatial regions or cardinal directions, as shown in example (58): (58)  

G~ǀ Gp Wp KRL WK~UDL HLVtQ KDL PqQ two ptc ptc 3sg.dat gate:nom.pl be:prs.3pl dem.nom.pl ptc SUzV %RUpDR NDWDLEDWDu DQWKU۸SRLVLQ KDL toward north.wind:gen descending:nom.pl man:dat.pl dem.nom.pl G¶ D€ SUzV 1yWRX HLVu WKH۸WHUDL ptc ptc toward south.wind:gen be:prs.3pl sacred:nom.pl ‘It has two gates, one toward the North Wind, by which men go down, but that toward the South Wind is sacred.’ (Hom. Od. 13.109–110).

This locative meaning later extended to human landmarks, especially in cases of abstract location (as shown in example [30], discussed in section 3.3), and hence to beneficiary. Rather than indicating BB as it did in Homer, prós with the genitive indicates semi-agentive CB: it occurs with the verb be, where it is said that someone is in favor (or on the side of) somebody else. To be on someone’s side usually means to be in favor of someone: for example, if one fights on the same side as somebody else, the two of them fight together, while if they are on opposite side they fight against each other. As I have remarked in section 3.3, in BB expressions with prós in Homer the feature of intentionality had special relevance. In Classical Greek, only this feature remains: the beneficient is not conceived as performing some concrete action, but rather as having a favorable attitude toward the beneficiary. Note that again, as in the case of hupér, BB precedes CB.


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4.2.4. Pró+genitive PPs formed by pró with the genitive profile a spatial relation in which a trajector stands in front of a landmark. An example is (59): (59)

ándra … eîdon prò ptólios dedaïgménon man:acc see:aor.1sg before city:gen slay:part.pf.m/p.acc oxéï khalkôi sharp.dat bronze:dat ‘I saw my husband slain with the sharp bronze before our city.’ (Il. 19.291–292);

Somebody fighting in front of a landmark can be conceived of as defending the landmark; this explains the sporadic extension to agentive CB, described in section 3.6.2 (example [45]). As already remarked, however, this type of expression did not become grammaticalized as a possible way of coding beneficiary.

4.2.5. Malefactive Besides the dative, the malefactive is coded through prós with the accusative both in Homer and in later writers. This type of PP indicates direction, as shown in (60): (60)

KƝ PqQ pEƝ SUzV G{PD dem.nom ptc go:aor.3sg toward home:n/a ‘She went home.’ (Hom. Od. 5.242).

As I have shown in 3.5, three other types of PP occur in malefactive expressions, i. e. eis with the accusative, epí with the accusative and katá with the genitive. I have already discussed the spatial meaning of eis with the accusative, which, besides extending to malefactive, also extends to beneficiary; as we have seen in section 4.2.1 it is the directional meaning of this PP that provides the path for semantic extension to beneficiary. The same holds for the malefactive. It must further be remarked that eis with the accusative extends to all constructions in which the dative is also possible, that is RB, event CB, and malefactive. The other two types of PP also code direction, but they profile different relations between the trajector and the landmark. Epí means ‘on’, and it indicates that a trajector moves along a trajectory that leads it on the (upper side) of the landmark, as shown in (61):

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek



DQHNK۸UƝVDQ KRL PqQ HV W‫ں‬Q SyOLQ KRL return:aor.3pl dem.nom.pl ptc to art.acc city:acc dem.nom.pl Gq epì naús ptc on ship:acc.pl ‘They returned, the one party to the city, the other to the ships.’ (Th. 3.91.5).

The preposition katá means ‘downwards’, and it indicates that a trajector follows a downward trajectory, which leads it to a landmark, as in (62): (62)

RvQRQ HSLVSHtVǀVL NDWj W{Q NHSKDOpǀQ wine:acc pour:subj.aor.3pl down art.gen.pl head:gen.pl ‘They pour wine on the men’s heads.’ (Hdt. 4.62.3).

The four prepositions which may code malefactive in Ancient Greek have different meanings; however, they all have in common the fact that they indicate direction. In the extension to malefactive, only this feature remains relevant: a malefactive is conceived of as the endpoint of a trajectory. This process of semantic extension, by which one single feature of the meaning remains relevant for the new meaning, follows the well known Gestalt effect first described in Lakoff (1977).

4.3. Beneficiary and purpose As we have seen above, two of the PPs that can code beneficiary also extend to purpose. The diachrony of the two extensions is different: in the case of eis, an allative preposition (typically indicating direction with motion verbs), purpose already occurs in Homer, while beneficiary only occurs later; in the case of hupér beneficiary precedes purpose. The path of extension from space to abstract relations is also different, given that hupér with the genitive is not a means of coding direction. The relation between beneficiary and purpose has been touched upon in various works, since polysemy including the two roles is comparatively frequent cross-linguistically (see Schmidtke 2010). However, its complexity does not seem to have been investigated in a satisfactory way, since similarity of the two roles is often taken for granted. For example, Rice and Kabata (2007: 481) write that “benefactive seems to be an obvious special case of purpose; when one acts for the benefit of another […], he or she is usually acting purposefully”. Note that this view of beneficiary does not consider event beneficiary. Besides,


Silvia Luraghi

the fact that one acts purposefully embraces many other situations (typically all actions), so the above remark does not seem to cast much light on the relation between the two roles. 4.3.1. Allative, purpose, beneficiary The change by which an allative marker, such as Greek eis with the accusative, extends to purpose is widely studied (see for example Rice and Kataba 2007). The Greek evidence indicates that extension to beneficiary is later. However, there is no positive evidence that these two semantic extensions of allative are connected with each other: one can view the extension from allative to purpose and from allative to beneficiary as independent, in spite of being chronologically ordered. Note further that there may be ambiguity between purpose and beneficiary, as in the case of example (26), discussed in section 3.2. This example also shows that the occurrence of a human participant does not rule out the possibility of a purpose interpretation. Thus, at least in the case of eis with the accusative, one cannot say that the beneficiary or purpose interpretation is forced by the animacy feature of the participant involved. That the two extensions are independent of each other is also in accordance with the findings described in Heine (1990) and mentioned earlier in section 4.2.1. When an allative marker extends to purpose and beneficiary, the latter two roles are conceived of as targets of motion along a trajectory. The common metaphor may be expressed as purposes or beneficiaries are destinations.26 4.3.2. Substitution, beneficiary and purpose The case in which extension to beneficiary is provided by the notion of substitution has not attracted much attention. However, it is not only attested in the case of Ancient Greek hupér with the genitive. For example, the same semantic extension occurred in the case of the Latin preposition pro ‘before’, ‘in exchange for’, which extended to BB and later to other types of beneficiary (see Luraghi 2005a). Contrary to Greek hupér with the genitive, Latin pro did not extend to purpose, but to cause, thus showing that the relation between beneficiary and purpose is not so obvious as some authors hold it to be. Let us go back to the Greek development. The notion of substitution conveyed by hupér with the genitive does not only explain extension to BB; it is 26 The metaphor purposes are destinations is described in Lakoff and Johnson (1999). The authors provide bodily foundations for this metaphor, connected with directional motion.

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


also clear in cases in which this type of PP codes purpose, as in examples (55) and (56) in section 4.2.2. Both passages can be interpreted as implying that an agent acts in exchange of what he or she envisages as the purpose of his or her acting. It must also be remembered that hupér with the genitive also extends to agentive CB. If we go back to the passages in which this role is coded, we can see that the mental attitude of the agent toward the beneficiary is similar to the attitude of the agent toward the purpose in (27) and (28). Both purpose and beneficiary, as conceptualized by hupér with the genitive, can be regarded as instances of another semantic role, reason. That this is the case is shown by occurrences in which hupér with the genitive cannot be viewed as indicating a beneficiary or a purpose, but rather the cause of mental state, as in (63): (63) 

WtV RXN jQ WKH{Q ƝOpƝVHQ DXWRV KXSqU int.nom neg ptc god:gen.pl pity:subj.aor.3sg 3pl.acc over WR€ PHJpWKRXV WR€ NLQG~QRX" art.gen greatness:gen art.gen risk:gen ‘Which god would not have pitied them for the greatness of the risk?’ (Lys. 2.40).

The cause of a mental state corresponds to the semantic role reason. In (63) hupér indicates exchange: this notion provides a link for all occurrences which contain hupér with the genitive. A reason is conceived of as an entity that an agent receives or achieves in exchange for his or her activity. This semantic role may play a role in bringing about polysemy involving cause, purpose and beneficiary, as I have shown in Luraghi (2005b). Note that in cases in which beneficiary and purpose are connected through the notion of reason, possible means of coding are prepositions that indicate location, rather than directional motion.27

5. Summary and conclusions In this paper, various ways of coding beneficiary in Homeric and in Classical Greek are described, in connection with the coding of neighboring semantic roles. The data point in the direction of a typology of beneficiary based on the occurrence or non-occurrence of other possible participants of the beneficiary situation, that is, a beneficent and a benefactum. Based on findings in Kittilä 27

I cannot elaborate on this topic here, but see Luraghi (2001) and (2005b) for further discussion.


Silvia Luraghi

(2005) concerning coding similarities between beneficiary and recipient, I suggest the following types of beneficiary: • RB or recipient beneficiary, which co-occurs with both a beneficient and a benefactum; • event CB or event concrete beneficiary, which co-occurs with a benefactum but not with a beneficient; • agentive CB or agentive beneficiary, which co-occurs with a beneficient but not with a benefactum; • BB or behalf beneficiary, which co-occurs with a beneficient acting on behalf of the beneficiary. In Homeric Greek, most types of beneficiary are coded though the dative, in the same way as recipient, except for BB, which is coded through PPs. Following the typology in Kittilä (2005), Homeric Greek belongs to the neutral/ fluid category. In Classical Greek, several other ways of coding beneficiary have emerged, which point towards a typology even more complex than the one suggested above. While recipient is still coded through the dative case, RB and event CB1 are coded through the dative or through the allative marker eis with the accusative. Event CB2, agentive CB and BB are coded though various PPs. Following the typology in Kittilä (2005), Classical Greek belongs to the tripartite category. The distinction between event CB1 and event CB2 is based on the occurrence of an inactive possible beneficient in event CB2, whose intention is relevant for the benefit received by the beneficiary. Differences in coding point toward varying degrees of relevance of either the beneficient or the benefactum. Malefactive can also be coded as RB and event CB1, that is through the dative or eis with the accusative, or it can be coded by means of more specific prepositions, which mean ‘against’. In the latter case, the coding diverges from the coding of beneficiary. Spatial metaphors underlying beneficiary coding are of two types, depending on whether they involve a preposition that indicates direction, namely the allative marker eis with the accusative, or a locative marker, either hupér with the genitive or prós with the genitive. Both types of metaphor also extend to purpose, the latter limited to hupér with the genitive. In the case of the allative marker, extension to purpose precedes extension to beneficiary; both types of semantic extension are based on the notion of abstract motion along a trajectory. In the case of the locative marker hupér with the genitive, on the contrary, extension to beneficiary precedes extension to purpose. The first type of beneficiary to be coded through hupér with the genitive is BB, indicating the relevance of the notion of substitution for this

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


metaphor. The connecting link between beneficiary and purpose in the case of hupér with the genitive is the notion of exchange, and the semantic space in which the two roles overlap is that of reason.

Abbreviations Grammatical glosses 1 2 3 acc aor art comp dat dem fut gen imp impf indef inf instr int mid

first person second person third person accusative aorist article comparative dative demonstrative future genitive imperative imperfect indefinite infinitive instrumental interrogative middle

m/p n/a neg nom opt p part pf pl plpf poss prs ptc rel rfl sg subj

medio-passive nominative/accusative neuter negation nominative optative passive participle perfect plural pluperfect possessive present particle relative reflexive singular subjunctive

Note: For the sake of brevity, singular number is not indicated for nominal categories (except for personal and possessive pronouns), while active diathesis and indicative mood are not indicated for verbal categories; medio-passive diathesis is indicated only when it is relevant (i. e. not in the case of media tantum); gender is not indicated except in the case of nominative-accusative neuter, which has a special gloss (n/a). Classical authors Dem. Hdt. Hom. Isoc.

Demosthenes Herodotus Homer Isocrates

Lys. Pl. Th.

Lysias Plato Thucydides


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Works Il. Od. Protag.

Iliad Odyssey Protagoras

Phlb. Rep. Symp.

Philebus The Republic Symposium

References Chantraine, Pierre 1953 Grammaire homérique. Tome 2: Syntaxe. Paris: Klinksiek. Goldberg, Adele 1995 Constructions: A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Haspelmath, Martin 1999 External possession in a European areal perspective. In Doris L. Payne and Immanuel Barshi (eds.), External Possession. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins, 137–163. Havers, Wilhelm 1911 Untersuchungen zur Kasussyntax der indogermanischen Sprachen. Strassburg: Trübner. Heine, Bernd 1990 The dative in Ik and Kanuri. In: William Croft, Suzanne Kemmer and Keith Denning (eds.), Studies in Typology and Diachrony: Papers Presented to Joseph H. Greenberg on his 75th Birthday, 129–149. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Kittilä, Seppo 2005 Recipient-prominence vs. beneficiary-prominence. Linguistic Typology 9(2): 269–297. Kittilä, Seppo and Fernando Zúñiga 2010 Introduction: benefaction and malefaction from a cross-linguistic perspective. In: Seppo Kittilä and Fernando Zúñiga (eds.), Benefactives and Malefactives: Typological Perspectives and Case Studies, 1–28. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Lakoff, George 1977 Linguistic gestalts. In: Woodford A. Beach, Samuel E. Fox and Shulamith Philosoph (eds.), Papers from the Thirteenth Regional Meeting, Chicago Linguistic Society, 236–287. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society. Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson 1999 Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books. Lehmann, Christian, Yong-Min Shin and Elisabeth Verhoeven 2000 Direkte und indirekte Partizipation: Zur Typologie der sprachlichen Repräsentation konzeptueller Relationen. München: Lincom Europa.

Sources for beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek


Luraghi, Silvia 2001 Syncretism and the classification of semantic roles. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 54(1): 35–51. Luraghi, Silvia 2003 On the Meaning of Cases and Prepositions: A Study of the Expression of Semantic Roles in Ancient Greek. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Luraghi, Silvia 2005a Prepositions in Cause expressions. Papers on Grammar 12(2): 609–619. Luraghi, Silvia 2005b Paths of semantic extension: From cause to beneficiary and purpose. In: Michael Fortescue, Eva Skafte Jensen, Jens Erik Mogensen and Lene Schøsler (eds.), Historical Linguistics 2003, 141–157. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Newman, John 1996 Give: A Cognitive Linguistic Study. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Newman, John 1998 Recipients and ‘give’ constructions. In Willy van Langendonck and William van Belle (eds.), The Dative Volume 2: Theoretical and Contrastive Studies, 1–28. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Radetzky, Paula and Tomoko Yamashita Smith 2010 An areal and cross-linguistic study of benefactive and malefactive constructions. In: Seppo Kittilä and Fernando Zúñiga (eds.), Benefactives and Malefactives: Typological perspectives and Case Studies, 121–146. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Rice, Sally and Kaori Kabata 2007 Cross-linguistic grammaticalization patterns of the allative. Linguistic Typology 11(3): 453–516. Schmidtke, Karsten 2010 The role of benefactives and related notions in the typology of purpose clauses. In: Seppo Kittilä and Fernando Zúñiga (eds.), Benefactives and Malefactives: Typological Perspectives and Case Studies, 147–184. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Schwyzer, Eduard 1950 Griechische Grammatik. Band 2: Syntax. München: Beck. Smith, Tomoko 2005 Affectedness constructions: How languages indicate positive and negative events. PhD dissertation, University of California, Berkeley. Smith, Tomoko Yamashita 2010 Cross-linguistic categorization of benefactives by event structure: A preliminary framework for benfactive typology. In: Seppo Kittilä and Fernando Zúñiga (eds.), Benefactives and Malefactives: Typological Perspectives and Case Studies, 71–96. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. Van Valin, Robert and Randy LaPolla 1997 Syntax. Cambridge: CUP.

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English: Semantics, variation and change Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens1

Abstract This paper focuses on variation and diachronic change in the semantics and lexicogrammar of that-clauses and so-called gerundive nominalizations (Lees 1960) functioning as clausal complements (CCs) of factive predicates (Kiparsky and Kiparsky 1971), as in the following examples in Present-day English: (1) (2)

As I said I regret that it all happened and I just want to move on from it. (CB) I don’t regret helping her start out (…). (CB)

Most attention has thus far been devoted to the relationship between that-CCs and the to-infinitive (see, e. g. Rohdenburg 1996, Los 2005) and to that between infinitival and gerundive complementation (Duffley 1999; Smith 2002; De Smet 2004). In this paper, we show that the distribution of that-CCs and gerundives can also be profitably examined from a diachronic perspective. We consider factive predicates (such as regret, admit, accept, acknowledge) because this is a set of verbs where the alternation between that and -ing is quite systematically found. It is argued that in general, throughout their evolution, the that- and -ing complementation systems encode a different semantics which ties in with the diachronic origins of each of these systems. As such, that-CCs have, from early on, coded a proposition which is holistically construed, and later, more specific/specialized uses – such as the metalinguistic use of predicate + that in (3) – are in line with this diachronic origin. 1 Liesbet Heyvaert would like to thank the Fund for Scientific Research – Flanders for the postdoctoral grant that made this paper possible. Both authors would also like to acknowledge the financial support of the Interuniversity Attraction Poles Programme – Belgian State – Belgian Science Policy, project P6/44, Grammaticalization and (inter)subjectification, as well as the support of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (grant no. HUM2007-60706/FILO) and the European Regional Development Fund. Sincere thanks also go to Heli Tissari, Kathryn Allan, Päivi Koivisto-Alanko and Margaret E. Winters, for organizing the Workshop Historical Linguistics in a Cognitive Framework: From the Present to the Past and Back at the 10th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference held at the University of Krakow in July 2007. Finally, we would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions for improvement which our paper has greatly benefited from.

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English (3)


regret that = ‘to feel sorry that one says/has to say that’ My lady and Miss Rachel regret that they are engaged, Colonel; and beg to be excused having the honour of seeing you. (CLMET 1780)

As well, gerundive -ing CCs, which originally derive from action nouns in –ing, typically continue the ‘action semantics’ of the action nouns which they originate from, through control by the subject of the matrix clause (‘S of matrix clause Verb-s having been/being involved in a certain action’), as in (4): (4a) (4b)

but before the words were well out of my mouth, I regretted having uttered them. (CLMET 1780) I slackened my pace, but next moment regretted having done so. (CB)

At the same time, it can be observed that the distribution of gerundive -ing CCs has come to (partially) overlap with that-CCs because gerundive -ing CCs, in spite of their origin in action nouns in -ing, have come to profile the more schematic instantiation of a process by a subject, which is also implied in the grounded process types of that-CCs (Heyvaert 2006). In our paper we present an analysis of Late Modern English and Present-day English corpus data which tries to shed light on the emergence of that- and -ing CCs with factive predicates, we identify the factors that seem to have influenced their varying distribution, and we point to some interesting implications for the analysis of complementation structures in general.

1. Introduction In this paper, we will consider variation and change in the distribution of thatclauses and gerundive -ing clauses functioning as clausal complements, as in the following examples with the complement-taking predicates regret and admit: (1) As I said I regret [that it all happened]. (CB) (2) I don’t regret [helping her start out]. (CB) (3) They readily admit [that they lack the sophisticated arsenal that Israel has]. (CB) (4) Mr Lippett said Treptow admitted [being in the utility and firing the shots]. (CB) This study will focus on a number of specific complement-taking predicates showing alternation between these two clausal complement types. In particular, it will be concerned with two types of predicates where this alternation is found quite systematically, i. e. “cognitive” or “propositional attitude predicates” (“expressing an attitude regarding the truth of the proposition expressed


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as their complement”, Noonan 1985: 113) such as agree ‘have the same opinion as someone else’ and admit ‘agree unwillingly’; and ‘emotive’ or “commentative” predicates (providing “a comment on the complement proposition which takes the form of an emotional reaction”, Noonan 1985: 117), such as regret and resent. Both the cognitive and emotive type of predicates can be classified as “factive”(Kiparsky and Kiparsky 1971) in that they are, at least in some uses, followed by a proposition which is “pre-existent to the relation in which it participates” (Davidse 2003: 126). Their factive status, Davidse (2003: 126) has argued, implies that either the speaker and/or a second consciousness (e. g. the processor of the cognitive/emotive predicate) is committed to its truth.2 Because it shows many interesting resemblances with the complementation of regret and resent, we also included complementation of the emotive adjective sorry as in be/feel sorry for/that in our analysis. The alternation between that- and -ing complement clauses (henceforth also called that-CCs and -ing-CCs) has hardly been researched yet. Most attention has thus far gone to the distribution of that- and to-infinitive complements (see, among others, Rohdenburg 1996; Los 2005) and to the distribution of to-infinitive and gerundive (see, among others, Declerck 1991; Fanego 1996; Duffley 1999; Smith 2002; Mair 2003; De Smet 2004). We will show in this paper that the distribution of that-CCs and gerundives, too, can be profitably examined from a diachronic perspective and that the cognitive and emotive predicates under investigation show both interesting parallels and differences in their use of that- and -ing CCs. This paper firstly has a descriptive purpose in that it intends to show how the complementation by that- and -ing-CCs of the cognitive and emotive predicates agree, admit, regret, resent and sorry has evolved from Early Modern English to Present-day English (spread, varying distribution). In that respect, it will be seen that these predicates occurred earliest with that-CCs. When -ingCCs first became a possible alternative in Late Modern English (LModE), they showed semantic and structural overlap with that-CCs in a good deal of their occurrences. Interestingly, in the period from LModE to Present-day English, we can observe a growing semantic and lexicogrammatical division of labor between that-CCs and gerundive -ing-CCs, whereby the former tend to express 2 As such, factive predicates differ from non-factive complements as in (1) and (2), where the that-clauses are primarily true for the cognizant whose process of consciousness is represented (as in [1]) or for the sayer of the verbal process of telling in (2) – not necessarily for the speaker: (1) Mark supposes that it is raining. (2) Anne told us that he has been found guilty.

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English


a state of affairs that the subject of the matrix clause is not itself responsible for or involved in (typically encoded by an inanimate subject of the that-CC which is different from the matrix clause subject), and the latter increasingly express “action” semantics in a control environment. In addition to describing the variation, through time, between that-CCs and -ing-CCs with agree, admit, regret, resent and sorry, we will try to identify the factors that have played a role in this varying distribution. In that respect, the semantic and lexicogrammatical specialization that that-CCs and -ing-CCs have each increasingly exploited will be seen to play an important role. Outside of the factor “specialization” other factors that we will show may account for the changing distribution between that-CCs and -ing-CCs relate to the formal characteristics of the that-CC or to processes of semantic extension and semantic divergence in the matrix predicate. Finally, we will argue that the development of -ing-CCs, showing increasing syntactic and semantic bonding with the predicates they are used with, can be seen as an instance of increasing grammaticalization. After introducing the corpora that we consulted in section 2, we briefly summarize what is known of the diachronic origins of that- and -ing-CCs in section 3. In section 4, then, we present the results of our corpus analysis and discuss the factors that we argue can account for the changing distribution between that- and -ing-CCs following regret, resent, admit, agree and be sorry.

2. A note on our corpus data For our analysis, we relied on quantitative and qualitative corpus analysis and made use of the following corpora: 1. CEECS or the Corpus of Early English Correspondence Sampler: 1418– 1680: 450,000 words 2. CEMET or the Corpus of Early Modern English Texts: 1640–1705: 2,000,000 words 3. CLMET or the Corpus of Late Modern English texts (compiled by Hendrik De Smet): 1710–1780: 3,037,607 words 1780–1850: 5,723,988 words 1850–1920: 6,251,564 words 4. COBUILD or the Collins Birmingham University International Language Database: 1990s: 56,000,000 words We searched the CEECS, CEMET and CLMET corpora by means of the WordSmith concordancing software; for the COBUILD corpus we made use


Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens

of the remote log-in system of the corpus itself. We opted for “broad” search strings so as to avoid missing out on interesting data. In particular, the search horizons for the complementizers that and -ing were set at three words to the right of the search word (searches for that-CCs in the COBUILD corpus were somewhat less broad to keep the number of hits manageable). In Tables 1–4 below, we give an overview of the types of searches that we carried out and the number of useful instances that we ended up analyzing in detail (notice that, in order to reduce the data to a somewhat more manageable size, we reduced the COBUILD hits for admit followed by that and -ing and for agree with that to 200 instances each).3 Among the hits that we ignored in our analysis were thatand -ing structures that did not turn out to function as complementizers, as in (5) to (7) and predicates that turned out to function as nouns, as in (8). (5) (6)

(7) (8)

These reports we always resented with becoming spirit. (CLMET, 1710–1780) (…) what even with this sort of Rolls Royce announcements and that sort of thing? Yes even with Rolls Royce erm I must admit being in Nottingham. (CB) Those who were afloat will all agree with that statement. (CLMET, 1850–1920) My one regret is that our time together doesn’t stretch before us like some vast, expansive prairie. (CB)

Table 1. An overview of the CEECS data CEECS

Advanced search – max. 3rd word to the right of target item

Useful data


that *ing that *ing that *ing that *ing that *ing

0 0 0 0 10 0 0 0 3 0

Resent Be sorry Admit Agree

3 The normalized figures for these COBUILD data, which signal frequency across the entire corpus, were readjusted for the relative proportion of useful and spurious hits in the 200-hit sample.

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English Table 2. An overview of the CEMET data CEMET Regret Resent Be sorry Admit Agree

Advanced search – max. 3rd word to the right of target item that *ing that *ing that *ing that *ing that *ing

Useful data 0 0 0 0 11 1 2 0 16 2

Table 3. An overview of the CLMET data CLMET Regret Resent Be sorry Admit Agree

Advanced search – max. 3rd word to the right of target item that *ing that *ing that *ing that *ing that *ing

Useful data 126 38 3 10 106 9 286 3 214 3

Table 4. An overview of the COBUILD data COBUILD Regret Resent Be sorry Admit Agree

Search string regret*+0,2that regret*+0,3VBG resent*+0,2that resent*+0,3VBG sorry*+0,2that sorry*+0,3VBG admit*+0,2that admit*+0,3VBG agree*+0,2that agree*+0,3VBG

Useful data 108 147 5 73 76 31 200 200 200 52



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3. Gerundive and that-complementation: diachronic origins In order to be able to fully appreciate the distributional changes of that-CCs and gerundive -ing-CCs with the complement-taking predicates regret, admit, resent, agree, be sorry from Early Modern English (EModE) to Present-day English (PDE), it seems appropriate to first present a brief overview of the diachronic origin and development of that- and -ing-complements themselves.

3.1. that-complementation Although this is not entirely uncontested (see Fischer 2007: 221), that-complements have been argued to go back to a pattern of “demonstrative pronoun + resumptive demonstrative pronoun” in Old English (Hopper and Traugott 2003: 191), as in (9)

Ða on morgenne gehierdun þæt þæs cyninges When in morning heard.pl dem that.gen king’s Þegnas þe him beæftan wærun þæt se cyning thanes who him behind were comp the king ofslægen wæs, þa ridon hie þider. slain was then rode they thither ‘When in the morning the king’s thanes who had been left behind heard that: that he had been killed, then they rode up there.’

As Hopper and Traugott (2003: 192) point out, “Such features are reminiscent of oral language and of strategies clarifying interdependencies in the flow of speech […]”. The diachronic origin of that-clauses in a pronoun pointing forward to a state of affairs ties in with Langacker’s view of Present-Day that-clauses (see also Croft 2002). Langacker emphasizes that in PDE, “the finite clause complement is construed holistically as a unitary entity” (1991: 449), with the complementizer that imposing “an atemporal or even nominal [i. e., nonprocessual] construal on the finite clause” (1991: 448). At the same time he emphasizes that internally, or “at the level of constituency where that has not yet been appended”, that-CCs display a complex structure and have “a processual profile” (1991: 448), including the various grounding options of a finite clause. Given that, over time, that-CCs have seen little lexicogrammatical or semantic change, the characterization Langacker offers for PDE that-CCs can usefully be applied to that-CCs in earlier stages of the language.

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English


3.2. -ing complementation Gerundive -ing complements can be traced back to an Old English derivative in -ing which functioned as a full noun. This Old English derivative has been labelled action nominal because it could (and still can) only be used with predicates expressing an action (Lees 1960): (10)


ðurh ðæra sacerda blawunge toburston ða wallas (c. 1000, Visser 1963–73: 1165) ‘through the blowing of the priests, the walls broke down’ He hadde i-trespassed, and dredde [the chastisynge of his master]. (Fanego 2004: 6)

In the course of Middle English, a new type of -ing nominals developed with clausal properties (e. g. subject-predicate-like structure; direct object or complement instead of of-phrase; adverbial modification; tense and voice distinctions) (see, among others, Fanego 1996, 1998, 2004; De Smet 2008): (12) (13)

Master Blifil objected to [the sending away the servant]. (Jespersen 1940, part IV) The mooste noble and valiant princis of Grece often tymes, to recreate their spirites, and in augmenting their courage, enbraced instrumentes musicall. (1531, Thomas Elyot [HC]); quoted in De Smet 2007: 100)

In particular from late Modern English onwards, this new, gerundive system of -ing nominalization was increasingly used. Note that, like ordinary clauses, it can be construed with both action and state verbs: (14) (15)

I resent [you fluffing the pillows and playing lady of the manor]. (CB) She had very much regretted [being from home]. (CLMET 1780–1850)

The gerundive system of -ing nominalization now constitutes a relatively stable system with only one striking nominal lexicogrammatical feature left, i. e. the possibility of using a possessive/genitive determiner to express the subject: (16)

Some researchers have felt that having a mental illness would lead to [the individual’s occupying a position in a lower social class]. (CB)

As the gerundive system of -ing nominalization has been relatively unchanged since LModE, its characterization for PDE, as in Heyvaert 2008, can easily


Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens

be applied to the entire period from LModE to PDE. In particular, the gerundive system can be said to centre on two fundamental constructional options (Heyvaert 2008), viz. to link up the atemporalized clausal -ing unit which it is based on to a subject (explicitly realized or implied through control) or leave it as such, without subject (Heyvaert 2003, 2008). Its semantics has shifted from being exclusively “action”-oriented to a somewhat more schematic meaning, i. e. that of type specification (without S) or instantiation (of a particular atemporalized process type by a specific subject) (Langacker 1991; Davidse 1991; Heyvaert 2008). Examples (17) and (18) show gerundive nominals with type-specifying meaning: (17) (18)

[Going to the beach] is enjoyable. (Schachter 1976: 215) Kavanagh star John Thaw was seen on January 3 defending a student accused of [raping a housewife]. (CB)

Notice that the gerundive nominalization raping a housewife is type-specifying in (18), denoting a type of crime, but designates an instance in He was convicted for [raping a housewife], where the subject of the raping is the subject of the matrix clause. Gerundives focusing on the instantiation of the process type are given in (19) to (20): (19) (20)

[…] the industry was relieved at [escaping a crackdown] […]). (CB) My husband speaks very well, but his job involves [my answering the phone on his behalf quite a bit of the time]. (CB)

4. that- and -ing complementation of cognitive and emotive predicates: a corpus study 4.1. Frequency of occurrence: some general diachronic tendencies Table 5 below presents the frequency of occurrence of the that-CC and -ing-CC in the period from EModE to PDE. The data include raw frequencies (RawF; repeated from Tables 1–4), relative frequencies (RelF) of -ing-CCs vs. thatCCs and normalized frequencies (NormF; normalized per 100,000 words). The figures in Table 5 suggest, firstly, that in general that-CCs arose earliest as factive complements but, like -ing CCs, remained infrequent up until the beginning of the 18th century (cf. the CLMET data). A search of the verb admit, for instance, in the 17th century CEMET corpus reveals that in all except two instances it is complemented by an NP (21), PP (22) or NP + to-infinitive structure (23).

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English


Table 5. The use of that- and -ing complements with regret, resent, sorry, admit and agree. A diachronic overview of their frequency of occurrence    

Regret that -ing





(21) (22) (23)

RawF RelF NormF RawF RelF NormF RawF RelF NormF RawF RelF NormF

0 0% 0 0 0% 0 126 76.8% 0.839 108 42.4% 0.192

Resent that -ing

Sorry that -ing

0 0 0 10 0% 0% 0% 100% 0 0 0 2.22 0 0 0 11 0% 0% 0% 91.7% 0 0 0 0.55 38 3 10 106 23.2% 23.1% 76.9% 92.2% 0.253 0.019 0.06 0.706 147 5 76 73 57.6% 6.4% 93.4% 71% 0.262 0.009 0.13 0.135

0 0% 0 1 8.3% 0.05 9 7.8% 0.06 31 29% 0.055

Admit that -ing

Agree that -ing

0 0 3 0 0% 0% 100% 0% 0 0 0.66 0 2 0 16 2 100% 0% 88.9% 11.1% 0.1 0 0.8 0.1 286 3 214 3 99% 1% 98.6% 1.4% 1.904 0.02 1.42 0.02 200 200 200 52 50% 50% 79.4% 20.6% 2.91 1.717 2.857 0.083

Admit me, sacred maid, admit me again to those soft delights […] (CEMET) Your passion, madam, will admit of no farther reasoning; but here’s a silent witness of your acquaintance. (CEMET) Well, but passing this; my leisure will admit me to stay, and therefore pray tell me what it is that makes you think that Mr. Badman is gone to Hell. (CEMET)

Gerundive CCs are only found from Late Modern English, and then especially from the end of the 18th – beginning of the 19th century onwards (cf. the CLMET data). Second, while -ing-CCs were later entering the language than that-CCs, their relative share vs. that-CCs increases substantially over time with all complement-taking predicates.4 In addition, as the normalized figures 4

Other interesting observations can be gathered from this table. For instance, which pattern is currently most frequent – -ing or that – , which turns out to be different for each of the matrix verbs that we analyzed. While the cognitive predicates agree and admit both show a clear preference for that-CCs, the emotive predicates regret, resent and sorry differ substantially in their complementational patterns: resent has come to prefer -ing; regret and sorry both show a strong decrease of that-CCs. While sorry still prefers that, however, regret is now used more frequently with -ing than with that-CCs. Our current data sample does not allow us to provide a satisfactory answer to the questions raised by these findings. The sudden drop in that-CCs with regret and sorry, for instance, might have to be attributed to their common elision of that as a complementizer, a factor we cannot investigate as our data only includes that-CCs with an explicitly expressed complementizer that.


Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens

suggest, the -ing-CCs themselves show a significant increase in Present-day English (cf. the Cobuild data for resent, admit, agree, and to some extent also for regret). Note that these normalized figures need to be treated with some caution because an increase over time in the frequency of the -ing-CC pattern with a particular matrix verb may also result from an increase in the general frequency of that verb. In what follows, we will look in detail at the shifting distribution of that- and -ing-CCs and try to shed light on the factors that might have motivated these diachronic changes. 4.2. Specialization of that-CCs and -ing-CCs As we pointed out in section 3, that-CCs consist of a proposition or state of affairs – with a processual profile – that follows the complementizer that (originally demonstrative that) and which is construed as relatively independent from the matrix predicate. In their capacity of denoting a process, that-CCs encode actions as well as states; furthermore, as independent subject-predicate structures, their subject may be either identical to or different from the matrix subject. As has been observed as well, it is that-CCs that arose earliest as factive complements, with gerundive -ing-complements only occurring from LModE onwards. When gerundive -ing-CCs entered the language as an alternative to that-CCs, they had already developed their full lexicogrammatical potential (cf. section 3.2), that is, they could refer both to actions and states, and could explicitly express the subject of the -ing predicate. Indeed, gerundives had gradually moved from an exclusive focus on “actions” to the more schematic profile of the instantiation of a process by a subject (Heyvaert 2008). Since both that-CCs and -ing-CCs could share a subject-predicate structure and denote processes, they could be said to overlap structurally and semantically. As can be inferred from Table 6, the predicate regret in the CLMET corpus (LModE) shows all the lexicogrammatical possibilities of that-clauses: they can express identical and different subjects, and can express actions and states, as also illustrated in (24) to (27) below. Table 6. Types of -ing complements following regret in Late Modern English. Regret+-ing CLMET 38










How much do I regret [not having had more opportunities of showing you my esteem and love (…)]. (CLMET, 1710–1780) [subject controlled]


Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English


(26) (27)

She is very kindly inquired after by her friends here, who all regret [her not coming with her father and mother]. (CLMET, 1780–1850) [subject expressed] […] I could not regret [having watched over and laboured to relieve them]. (CLMET, 1780–1850) [action] […] she had very much regretted [being from home]. (CLMET, 1780– 1850) [state]

Note that the overlap we describe is an overlap in usage, and does not mean that -ing-CCs and that-CCs are semantically identical. That-clauses are independent, unitary entities, with an internal subject-predicate structure, while -ing-CCs are atemporalized process types. When comparing this situation of overlap with PDE, we see that the overlap has become far less pronounced. Let us consider the cases of regret and resent. Table 7. Types of -ing complements following regret in Present-day English compared to Late Modern English Regret+-ing



32 146

84.2% 99.3%

Su-expr 6 1

15.8% 0.7%

Action 25 124

65.8% 84.3%

State 13 23

34.2% 15.7%

Table 8. Types of -ing complements following resent in Present-day English compared to Late Modern English Resent CLMET COBUILD

Su-cont 10 73

4 47

40.0% 64.4%

Su-expr 6 26

60.0% 35.6%

Action 2 32

20.0% 43.8%

State 8 41

80.0% 56.2%

With both predicates, -ing-CCs in Present-day English still exploit (almost) all of the lexicogrammatical potential of that-CCs (i. e. they occur with different and same subject, with states and actions); still, the number of -ing-CCs with a different subject has decreased significantly. This skewed distribution seems to suggest that the full lexicogrammatical potential of -ing-CCs has been drastically reduced, or has become specialized. Interestingly, the skewed distribution of that-CCs and -ing-CCs, that is, the specialization of that-CCs and -ing-CCs, was already visible, though less outspoken, in LModE – at the time when overlap between that-CCs and -ing-CCs was at its highest. Indeed, in LModE, we already find a preference for that-CCs


Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens

– mostly expressing a state – whose subject is different from that of the matrix subject. It is precisely in these lexicogrammatical patterns that involvement of the matrix subject is not possible, and it is those that-CCs, therefore, that are the candidates par excellence to encode dependence from the matrix. The specialization of that-CCs for different subjects is continued into PDE, where it can be observed from the COBUILD data that we analyzed that the proportion “same subject” vs. “different subject” is clearly in favour of “different subject” (the figures below first give the number of instances that we found in the Cobuild data where the that-CC contains the same subject as the matrix clause, followed by the number of instances where the that-subject is different).

Regret that: Agree that: Admit that: Sorry that:

Same subject RawF RelF 32 29.6% 20 10.0% 62 31.0% 21 27.6%

Different subject RawF RelF 76 70.4% 180 90.0% 138 69.0% 55 72.4%

Here are some examples illustrating the most typical subject patterns with the predicates regret, admit, agree and sorry: (28) (29) (30) (31)

She regretted deeply [that he had not come a little earlier]. (CLMET, 1780) […] the women all agree [that having time for themselves is the big factor that has changed in their lives]. (CB) […] the Bonn Government admitted [that economic growth was turning out to be far weaker than expected]. (CB) […] I am nonetheless very sorry [that Mrs. Costner left him after 20 years of marriage]. (CB)

Semantically speaking, the that-CC in these cases typically expresses a situation, a state-of-affairs which the subject of the matrix clause regrets, admits, resents, agrees on or is sorry about but is not itself responsible for or involved in as subject. For admit followed by a that-complement, for instance, the CLMET corpus gives only 33 instances (out of 287) with an identical subject in the matrix and complement clause. Of the CLMET instances of admit followed by -ing, on the other hand, those that have the meaning of ‘say unwillingly’ (as opposed to that of ‘allowing for, letting’) all have a controlled, and therefore implicit subject, as in […] not a few have admitted having suffered spiritual loss (CLMET, 1850–1920). With regard to the proportion animate/inanimate subject, then, the thatclauses in our COBUILD data are clearly in favour of inanimate subjects:

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English

Regret that: Agree that: Admit that: Sorry that:

(32) (33) (34) (35)

Animate subject RawF RelF 50 46.3% 60 30.0% 88 44.0% 56 31.8%


Inanimate subject RawF RelF 58 53.7% 140 70.0% 112 56.0% 120 68.2%

“I regret [that this has happened],” said Mr. Fitweiler […]. (CB) I agree [that the top needs to be clearly defined]. (CB) And he admits [that every sexy scene causes Eve pain]. (CB) […] but she feels sorry [that the British players had to be thrown out]. (CB)

The lack of responsibility and involvement on the part of the subject of regret, admit, resent, agree on or be sorry about, it could be argued, is especially clear when the (different) subject of the that-CC is inanimate. Conversely, in LModE, -ing-clauses expressing an “action” with same/controlled subjects (the typical way to express actual involvement from the matrix subject) have already become predominant. Importantly, this specialization is in line with the diachronic nominal origins of the -ing-CC, which focuses on “action” and typically shows a control relationship (see De Smet 2007). Recall that, when at the end of the 18th, beginning of the 19th century gerundive complements came into use after the predicates regret, resent, be sorry, admit and agree, the system of gerundive nominalization had already undergone the shift from the action semantics of its nominal origin to the (more schematic) semantics of the subject-predicate structure: it could take an action or state process, be construed in the active or passive voice, take secondary tense and have a subject expressed, as exemplified in (36) to (38): (36) (37) (38)

[…] she had very much regretted [being from home]. (CLMET, 1710– 1780) [state] […] they now greatly resent [being saddled with the presence of an unknown urchin]. (CLMET, 1780–1850) [passive] Every moment I have to regret [the frigates having left me]. (CLMET, 1780–1850) [oblique subject]

Interestingly, however, in the -ing CCs following emotive and cognitive predicates that we considered, these clause-like options are certainly not prominent and in most cases even on the decline. There is thus not only a striking decrease in the use of the secondary tense or anteriority marker have after, for instance, regret (compare I don’t regret [writing the series] with I regret [not having put


Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens

enough time into mothering]) (see also Table 9); with most predicates, we also observe a significant decrease in the use of an explicit subject and in the use of non-action verbs in the gerundive CC. Table 9. The use of secondary tense marker have with regret Regret CLMET 38 COBUILD 147

Use of have to mark secondary tense 22 57.9% 22 15.0%

As Table 10 below makes clear, the subject of the gerundive CCs that follow regret, resent, admit and sorry (for/at/about) is typically controlled by the main clause, i. e. it is the same as the subject or object of the main clause and therefore no longer explicitly included in the gerundive. Table 10. The status of gerundive CCs following regret, resent, admit and sorry Regret CLMET 38 COBUILD 147

Su-cont 32 84.2% 146 99.3%

Su-expr 6 15.8% 1 0.7%

Action 25 65.8% 124 84.3%

State 13 34.2% 23 15.7%


10 73

Su-cont 4 40% 47 64.4%

Su-expr 6 60% 26 35.6%

Action 2 20% 32 43.8%

State 8 80% 41 56.2%


Su-cont 3 100% 200 100%

0 0

Su-expr 0% 0%

Action 1 33.3% 115 57.5%

2 85

State 66.7% 42.5%


Su-cont 8 88.9% 24 77.4%

1 7

Su-expr 11.1% 22.6%

7 23

Action 77.8% 74.2%

2 8

State 22.2% 25.8%

9 31

Some examples that illustrate the use of regret, resent, admit and sorry with controlled subjects are given in (39) to (42): (39) (40) (41) (42)

I knew that, no matter how much I loved John, I would regret and probably ultimately resent [not having children]. (CB) “Gentlemen, I am very sorry for [having kept you waiting so long]”. (CLMET, 1780–1850) He half admitted [having rushed to the palace on his road to me]. (CB) I have heart enough, sir, to do a deed that would make you regret [using me thus]. (CLMET, 1710–1780)

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English


Both regret and admit in Present-day English almost exclusively combine with gerundive CCs with a controlled subject. As Table 10 moreover shows, they have also come to prefer action to state verbs. In other words, when the English language user opts for a gerundive CC after regret and admit, he or she will typically regret or admit a situation which the subject of the main clause has been actively involved in itself. This strong preference is further supported by the distributional behaviour of the that-CC: when the situation that is regretted or admitted involves a subject that is different from the one in the main clause (and typically is also inanimate), it is much more likely that the language user will choose a that-CC, witness also Table 11 below. It shows that the distinction between that- and -ing CCs following regret, admit and resent is to a large extent based on the issue of subjecthood, viz. on whether the complements include a subject, and if so, whether that subject is similar to the subject or object of the main clause or not. (Note that, of the gerundive CCs with an expressed subject, only with resent do we find an example of a subject that is similar to the subject of the main clause, The public resented [their having plays ill acted when they knew they might have better]. [CLMET, 1710–1780]). Table 11. The use of that- vs. gerundive CCs following regret, resent, admit and sorry Regret + -ing CLMET COBUILD Regret + that CLMET COBUILD Admit + -ing CLMET COBUILD Admit + that CLMET COBUILD Resent + -ing CLMET COBUILD Resent + that CLMET COBUILD

Su-controlled 84.2% 99.3% Same subject 45.2% 29.6%

Su-expr 15.8% 0.7% Different subject 69 54.8% 76 0.135 / 70.4%

Su-controlled (N/100,000) 3 0.02 / 100% 200 1.72 / 100% Same subject (N/100,000) 51 0.339 / 17.8% 62 0.904 / 31.0%

Su-expr 0 0% 0 0% Different subject 235 1.565 / 82.2% 138 2.013 / 69.0%

Su-controlled (N/100,000) 4 0.026 / 40.0% 47 0.083 / 64.4% Same subject (N/100,000) 1 0.0666 / 33.3% 1 0.0018 / 20.0%

Su-expr 0.04 / 60.0% 0.047 / 35.6% Different subject 0.013 / 66.7% 0.0071 / 80.0%

38 147

32 146

126 108

57 32

3 200 286 200

10 73 3 5

6 1

0 0

6 26 2 4


Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens

It is interesting to point out that the predicate admit in combination with a gerundive CC not only systematically opts for a controlled subject, but also seems to have undergone semantic specialization. Whereas in the CLMET corpus, admit still carries the “neutral” semantics of ‘agree unwillingly that something is true or that someone else is right’ (see examples [43] and [44]), in the COBUILD corpus, an overwhelming majority of -ing CCs following admit (and then especially following admitted and admitting)5 designates a crime, as illustrated in (45) to (47): (43) (44) (45) (46) (47)

Not a few have admitted [having suffered spiritual loss and declension through being mixed up (…)]. (CLMET, 1780–1850) He half admitted [having rushed to the palace on his road to me]. (CLMET, 1780–1850) No group has admitted [carrying out the attack]. (CB) […] he admitted [belonging to the illegal Kenya Patriotic Front]. (CB) Baghdad has admitted to [enriching Uranium]. (CB)

If we compare this to the occurrences of admit with that-CC, we notice that even those that contain a subject that is similar to the one in the main clause tend not to refer to crimes, but draw upon the neutral semantics of admit ‘agree unwillingly’: (48) (49)

I have to admit [that I’ve shed more than my fair share of tears watching England’s cricketers at work in recent weeks]. (CB) But I must admit [that I was worried about the future]. (CB)

The phenomenon we are witnessing here could be called semantic divergence, parallel to the divergence described in De Smet and Cuyckens (2007). Note finally that, as far as agree is concerned, a distinction can be made between agree + -ing, agree to + -ing, agree with + -ing and agree on + -ing. As shown in Table 12, only the latter construction seems to systematically opt for a controlled subject in Present-day English (for an example, see [50] and [51]). Put differently, when one agrees on something, what one agrees on is typically the undertaking of a particular action by the subject of the agreeing.

5 Of the 136 instances of gerundive CCs following admitted, 106 designated crimes; likewise, of the 12 cases with admitting, 7 referred to crimes.

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English


Table 12. The status of gerundive CCs following agree, agree on/with/to Agree -ing CLMET COBUILD

3 47

Su-cont 0 0.0% 16 34.0%

Su-expr 3 100% 22 46.8%

3 29

Action 100% 61.7%

0 18

State 0.0% 38.3%

Su-expr 0.0%


Action 62.5%


State 37.5%

no subject: 9 Agree on –ing COBUILD 8


Su-cont 100%


no subject: / Agree with -ing COBUILD 17

Su-cont 1 5.9%

Su-expr 9 52.9%

Action 11 64.7%

Su-cont 31.8%

Su-expr 13 59.1%


State 6 35.3%

no subject: 7 Agree to-ing COBUILD 22


Action 59.1%


State 40.9%

no subject: 2

(50) (51)

[…] how are they all going to decide when they all agree on [going to war], if that’s the decision? (CB) […] the EC cannot agree on [cutting farm subsidies] and on a common position in […]. (CB)

The situation is clearly different for agree with and agree to + -ing, which both predominantly take gerundives with expressed subject (as illustrated in [52] and [53] below). More interestingly, they both occur without any subject, i. e. with gerundive CCs of the “type specifying” type (see Section 3.2, Heyvaert 2008). We include a number of examples of subjectless gerundives following agree with and agree to in (54) and (55). (52) (53) (54) (55)

I don’t agree with [anybody keeping a venomous snake under any circumstances]. (CB) […] your lender may agree to you paying back the arrears over an agreed period […]. (CB) I do not agree with [shifting the Trust out of Old government House and squeezing it into the remnant left of the (…)]. (CB) [no subject] […] and after sitting in the salient all this time, I am going to agree to [limiting the progress of my troops at the outset on the first day?]. (CB) [no subject]


Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens

By preferring an expressed subject when used with to and with, agree thus seems to resemble agree followed by a that-CC and deviate from the pattern that we identified for gerundive CCs following cognitive and emotive predicates. However, we do recognize significant differences between agree followed by that or by -ing. First, agree to has the specific meaning of ‘say yes to a plan, idea or suggestion’ (see also [56]), which agree that does not seem to have. When used with with, then, agree has a semantics that is comparable to that of agree that, i. e. ‘have or express the same opinion about a situation’, but our data shows that in almost half of the cases in which it occurs with a gerundive CC, agree with opts for a subjectless, or type-specifying CC (as illustrated in [57]): (56) (57)

So we managed to get the faculty to agree to [giving the title minerals engineering still to postgraduate degrees (…)]. (CB) I agree with [abolishing the House of Lords completely]. (CB) [no subject]

Agree with followed by a gerundive CC thus seems to offer the language user the option to refer to a situation without including a precise subject, i. e. to refer to a type of situation and leave the subject unidentified. In the finite clause that functions within that-CCs this is not possible and a subject has to be included. Summing up this section, then, we can say that the change in distribution of that and -ing following the factive predicates that we focus on can, at least partly, be attributed to specialization, whereby, interestingly, the -ing-clause and that-clause exploit their original semantics, with the -ing-clause typically expressing an action in which the (usually unexpressed or controlled) subject is actively involved, and with the that-clause encoding a proposition that is unambiguously independent from the main clause matrix. With regard to the motivation for specialization, we would like to suggest “economy”. Even though overlap in language is widely present, it seems more economical to have a neat distinction between two CC-types (think of remember + to-infinitive vs. remember + gerund). The development of -ing-CCs from a structure with a fairly broad potential (in that it could overlap with the lexicogrammatical potential of that-clauses) to a specialized structure with a high degree of semantic and syntactic bonding between matrix and complement structure opens up new perspectives for grammaticalization research. Indeed, in a number of respects, the increasing semantic and syntactic bonding between matrix and -ing-CC that we observed in our data can be regarded as an instance of increasing grammaticalization.

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English


1. Complement structures with tight semantic and syntactic bonding (no secondary tense, control) show a type of syntactic coalescence that can be likened to morphological coalescence (one of the Lehmann’s [1982] grammaticalization criteria). 2. When in this shift from loose to tight bonding, finite clauses are replaced by non-finite ones, or, as is the case here, when there is an increase in the relative proportion of non-finite (more bonded) structures to finite-structures this development can be viewed as an instance of decategorialization (and in particular, desententialization, cf. Lehmann 1988). 3. From the point of view of the matrix, the increasing preference with regret and admit to encode an action in which the (usually unexpressed or controlled) subject is actively involved by means of an –ing gerundive can be viewed as increasing obligatorification. Admittedly, this view of grammaticalization which includes clause combining is still somewhat controversial. For one, it is a type of grammaticalization involving abstract types (constructions) and not tokens (so, as Fischer 2007: 224 points out, “the usual grammaticalization reduction features such as semantic bleaching, phonetic reduction […] scope decrease, etc. are more difficult to discern in this process”). At the same time, this view of grammaticalization ties in with views such as Trousdale’s (2008a, 2008b), who suggests that schematic constructions may also be subject to grammaticalization.

4.3. Formal complexity So far, we have looked at lexicogrammatical patterns which, in principle, could be expressed by a that-CC or an -ing-CC – we have amply shown, however, that there is no balanced distribution between that-CCs and ing-CCs. Now, given that that-CCs are the only constructions whose internal structure is identical to that of a matrix clause, they would also be the ideal constructions to accommodate complex structures. Indeed, it turns out that that-CCs accommodate complex structures far more easily than gerundive CCs: they contain preposed Adjuncts, as in (58) and (59): (58) (59)

Others admit, [that if a nation could be separated from all the world, it would be of (…)]. (CLMET, 1710–1780) She hesitated to admit [that to her Sophia was the least in the world formidable]. (CLMET, 1850–1920)


Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens

… and they can take complex subjects, as shown in (60) and (61): (60) (61)

I admit [that twice two makes four is an excellent thing]. (CB) However the Secretary of State did not agree [that a criterion of the Structure Plan policy that a new settlement would “provide safe and easy access to the A10” had been met]. (CB)

Illustrative of the fact that that-CCs form independent, unitary propositions embedded within the matrix is also the use of adverbials and vocatives in between the matrix and the that-CC: (62) (63) (64) (65)

She regretted, indeed, [that she had not instantly returned it to the castle]. (CLMET, 1780–1850) ‘I regretted so much [that I was not at home when you did me the honour to call’], resumed Mrs. Cadurcis. (CLMET, 1780–1850) ‘You shall not regret, Walter,[that you have only a woman to help you’, she paused (…)]. (CLMET, 1780–1850) ‘You gotta admit, son, [that it is kind of odd, when you think about it]. (CB)

No such interspersing seems possible with gerundives: (66)

[…] she much regretted [having an engagement in London] […]. (CLMET, 1780–1850)

4.4. that-CCs and the rise of metalinguistic uses In addition to the factor “lexicogrammatical and semantic specialization” and the factor “formal complexity”, there are other factors that account for the changing distribution between that and -ing. However, in these cases, the distribution between that and -ing does not fall out from the lexicogrammatical division of labour between two CCs, but relates to changes in the [matrixclause + CC] combination which are outside of the realm of competition or overlap between that and -ing. A striking development that can thus be witnessed in the that-complementation of both cognitive and emotive predicates is the rise of what we will call “metalinguistic” uses of the predicate, as exemplified in the examples in (67) to (69) below. The that-clause in that case no longer represents a pre-existent proposition which the matrix clause interacts with,

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English


but expresses the projected content of what is basically a process of saying (hence the term “metalinguistic”: the predicates themselves come to project “metaphenomena” or representations of “linguistically processed phenomena”, Halliday [1968: 195]). Importantly, it is no longer factive in that case (factivity being defined by Halliday [1994: 250–262] as being necessarily realized by a structurally “embedded” rather than “projected” unit) and does not seem to have an equivalent in -ing. We can distinguish broadly between two subtypes here. In a first type, the emotional stance expressed by the matrix verb (regret) or adjective (sorry) comes to apply primarily to an implied speech act and the clause can be paraphrased as I regret/am sorry to say that. Instances of this type can be found under (67) to (69). (67) (68) (69)

I’m sorry [that I can’t be at the meeting this Friday]. (CB) [I’m sorry to say that…] I am sorry [that with better heed and judgment I had not quoted him]. (CB) [I am sorry to say that…] “My lady and Miss Rachel regret [that they are engaged, Colonel]; and beg to be excused having the honour of seeing you.” (CLMET, 1780– 1850) [they regret to say that…]

Notice the difference with uses like I’m sorry that I said you were assholes (CB) or He was beginning to regret that he’d come along (CB), where the emotional stance applies to the situation expressed by the that-clause. The metalinguistic use of regret and sorry in the meaning of ‘regret to say’ and ‘be sorry to say’ seems to follow earlier uses in which the speech act verb was explicitly included: (70) (71)

I am sorry to tell you […] [that, in this article, your first fact is false]. (OED, 1769) And I am sorry to say, [that too many of our dramatic performances are of this latter] […]. (CLMET, 1710–1780)

Nowadays, the combination of ‘sorry to say’ and ‘regret to say’ appears to have acquired the value of a fixed phrase with parenthetical status, added to a statement as a polite way of saying that you are sorry or feel uncomfortable about what you have just said/ what you are saying: (72) (73) (74)

Her lack of co-operation is nothing new, I regret to say. (CB) I wrote several times, but they never replied, I am sorry to say. (CB) She flew, I regret to say, into a rage, and demanded-uh-requested that I call you on the carpet. (CB)


Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens

A second metalinguistic use of that following cognitive/emotive predicates is exemplified in (75) to (78). Here the that-clause seems to primarily convey the content of the speech act that is part of the semantics of admitting and regretting, the basic meaning of both predicates (admit ‘agree unwillingly that something is true’ and regret ‘feel mental distress on account of’) being metonymically shifted to ‘saying with some reluctance’ (admit) and ‘saying with some regret’ (regret). (75)

(76) (77) (78)

[…] my mother came in, and created a diversion in my favour by her loquacious and animated welcome of the reverend guest. She regretted deeply [that he had not come a little earlier, in time for tea], but offered to have some immediately prepared. (CLMET 1780–1850) [she said (that she regretted) that…] Suenens admitted [that ‘it was one of the gravest decisions of my life’]. (CB) [Suenens said admittingly that…] Wilkinson himself admitted [that ‘our players didn’t get anywhere above freezing point (…)]’. (CB) [Wilkinson said admittingly that…] […] they have to field a load of questions about whether Prince is really a raving nutter and egomaniac. Funnily enough none of them thinks he is. All of them agree [that the ‘bottom line is that Prince is the ‘boss’ but they think that he deserves their ‘respect’ (…)]. (CB) [all of them said agreeingly that]

Contexts in which (implicit or explicit) reference is made to the speech event (as in [75], where her loquacious and animated welcome clearly suggests that what follows is what my mother said), as well as contexts in which the basic semantics of the matrix verb is backgrounded (e. g. in the case of admit, ‘agreeing unwillingly with a proposition that has been suggested/mentioned before’) contribute to the metalinguistic interpretation of the that-clauses that follow. In (76) and (78), for instance, it is thus reasonable to interpret the that-clause as merely expressing the content of what is said by Suenens (in [76]) and Wilkinson (in [78]) without the proposition necessarily being pre-existent. Interestingly, in examples (76) to (78) the clause following that has been placed between quotation marks in the Cobuild corpus. We also found several instances of admit followed by direct speech, as in (79): (79)

The former Argy skipper, who blatantly punched the ball into the net, admits: “I realize that goal should not have stood and I am sorry for what happened”. (CB)

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English


The metalinguistic meanings seem to fit in with semantic change Tendency II of the grammaticalization process as described in Traugott (1989: 35) whereby “meanings based in the external or internal described situation” shift towards “meanings based in the textual and metalinguistic situation” (i. e. “the situation of performing a linguistic act”). The predicates no longer express “internal emotion”, but the “stating of internal emotion” (compare the development of observe as verb denoting ‘perceive’ to a verb denoting ‘state that you perceive’). The first type of metalinguistic meaning that we distinguished can be argued to increasingly code speaker informativeness about his/her attitude towards the content of what is said (“apology”) (Tissari [2007: 61] makes a similar claim about the diachronic development of the phrases I fear that and I’m afraid that). Importantly, our corpus data suggests the existence of “bridging contexts”, in which the basic semantic interpretation of the predicate, as well as a new, metalinguistic, one is possible: (80)


[…] sprung up of which we as yet have only seen what will one day be considered the antediluvian prototypes of the race. We regret deeply [that our knowledge both of natural history and of machinery is too small to enable us to undertake the gigantic (…)]. (CLMET 1780–1850) […] was becoming direct and partisan in all of her public activities. She denounced Republicans and defended the New Deal; she acknowledged the gains American women had made in recent years but regretted [that politics was ‘still a man’s world’]; and she began to attack racism and sexism openly. (CB)

Note that the metalinguistic meanings tie in with the diachronic origin of that as being used to express a proposition or projected unit. As predicates with metalinguistic meanings, they are essentially “say” predicates, and in that respect take their CCs by analogy with “say” verbs. The importance of analogy in the diffusion of complements has, for instance, been described by De Smet (2008) with respect to the development of for…to-infinitives.

5. Conclusions In this paper we were concerned with the distribution of that- and -ing complements following the factive predicates regret, resent, admit, agree and be sorry. To identify the spread and varying distribution of their that- and -ing-CCs together with the factors that might have played a role in that distribution, we looked at corpus data from Early Modern English to Present-day English. Our


Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens

data suggested firstly that in general that-CCs arose earliest as factive complements but, like -ing-CCs, remained infrequent up until the beginning of the 18th century. Gerundive CCs following regret, resent, admit, agree and be sorry were found especially from the end of the 18th – beginning of the 19th century onwards. Even though significant semantic and structural overlap could be expected between that- and -ing-CCs, we found that from early onwards both complementation systems started to develop a specific division of labor. Of the factors that we identified as determining the resulting (varying) distribution of that and -ing-CCs, the exploitation of specific semantic and lexicogrammatical properties of that- and -ing constructions (or “specialization”) was discussed first. Gerundive complementation, we showed, shifted from increasing independence up until LModE (with the inclusion of a subject, and tense and voice marking, cf. Givon 1980) to growing dependence (loss of explicit subject and secondary tense marking). The original “action” semantics of “action nominals” was shown to have been “picked up” again in PDE, the [predicate -ing-CC] combinations that we analyzed typically expressing the meaning of ‘S of matrix clause regrets/admits/is sorry for/agrees on having been/being/ getting involved in a certain action as an Agent’. That-CCs, on the other hand, continue to exploit their original independent relation with the matrix (word order, complexity of subject, interspersing) and show a strong tendency in PDE to take a different inanimate subject. The increasing semantic and syntactic bonding between matrix and -ing-CC that we observed, we suggested, can be regarded as an instance of increasing grammaticalization, marked by syntactic coalescence and decategorialization (or desentialization). As examples of more specific cases of semantic and lexicogrammatical specialization, we discussed admit and its “crime-related” semantics, and agree, which, depending on the preposition it is combined with, prefers different types of gerundive constructions, including the subjectless, type-specifying type. Finally, several matrix predicates with that-CCs (regret, be sorry, admit, agree) were shown to be developing metalinguistic (and therefore even more independent) usages – this in line with their diachronic origin as projected units.

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Davidse, Kristin 2003 A corpus check of the factive presupposition. In: Aline Remael and Katja Pelsmaekers (eds.), Configurations of Culture: Essays in Honour of Michael Windross, 115–126. Apeldoorn: Garant. Declerck, Renaat 1991 A Comprehensive Descriptive Grammar of English. Tokyo: Kaitakusha. De Smet, Hendrik 2004 Semantics and the variation in complement constructions. Belgian Journal of English Language and Literatures: New Series 2: 247–260. De Smet, Hendrik 2007 Nominal gerunds in 16th-century English: The function of the definite article. Folia Linguistica Historica 28(1–2): 77–114. De Smet, Hendrik 2008 Diffusional change in the English system of complementation: Gerunds, participles and for…to-infinitives. Ph. D. dissertation, Department of Linguistics, University of Leuven. De Smet, Hendrik and Hubert Cuyckens 2007 Diachronic aspects of complementation: Constructions, entrenchment, and the matching problem. In: C. Cain, S. Harrington and G. Russom (eds.), Studies in the History of the English Language III. Managing Chaos: Strategies for Identifying Change in English, 187–213. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Duffley, Patrick 1999 The use of the infinitive and the -ing after verbs denoting the beginning, middle and end of an event. Folia Linguistica 33: 295–331. Fanego, Teresa 1996 The development of gerunds as objects of subject-control verbs in English (1400–1760). Diachronica 13: 29–62. Fanego, Teresa 1998 Developments in argument linking in Early Modern English gerund phrases. English Language and Linguistics 2: 87–119. Fanego, Teresa 2004 On reanalysis and actualization in syntactic change: The rise and development of English verbal gerunds. Diachronica 21: 5–55. Fischer, Olga 2007 Morphosyntactic Change: Functional and Formal Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Givon, Talmy 1980 The binding hierarchy and the typology of complements. Studies in Language 4: 333–377. Halliday, Michael A. K. 1968 Notes on transitivity and theme in English. Part III. Journal of Linguistics 4: 179–215. Halliday, Michael A. K. 1994 Introduction to Functional Grammar. Edward Arnold: London.


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Heyvaert, Liesbet 2003 A Cognitive-Functional Approach to Nominalization in English. Berlin: Mouton. Heyvaert, Liesbet 2008 Gerundive nominalizations and their constructional semantics. Folia Linguistica 42: 39–82. Hopper, Paul J. and Elizabeth Traugott 2003 Grammaticalization, 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jespersen, Otto 1914–1929 A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles. 7 volumes. London: George Allen and Unwin. Kiparsky, Paul and Carol Kiparsky 1971 Fact. In: D. D. Steinberg and L. A. Jakobovitz (eds.), Semantics: An Interdisciplinary Reader in Philosophy, Linguistics and Psychology, 345–369. Cambridge: CUP. Langacker, Ronald W. 1991 Foundations of Cognitive Grammar: Descriptive Application. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Lehmann, Christian 1982 Thoughts on Grammaticalization: A Programmatic Sketch. (Arbeiten des Kölner Universalien-Projektes, 48). Cologne: University of Cologne, Institut für Sprachwissenschaft. Lehmann, Christian 1988 Towards a typology of clause linkage. In: John Haiman and Sandra A. Thompson (eds.), Clause Combining in Discourse and Grammar, 181– 225. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Lees, Robert B. 1960/1968 The Grammar of English Nominalizations. (Indiana University Research Center in anthropology, folklore and linguistics, Publication 12). Bloomington: Indiana University. Los, Bettelou 2005 The Rise of the to-Infinitive. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mair, Christian 2003 Gerundial complements after begin and start: Grammatical and sociolinguistic factors, and how they work against each other. In: Günter Rohdenburg and Britta Mondorf (eds.), Determinants of Grammatical Variation in English, 347–377. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Noonan, Michael 1985 Complementation. In: Timothy Shopen (ed.), Language Typology and Syntactic Description, Volume 2, 42–140. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rohdenburg, Günter 1995 On the replacement of finite complement clauses by infinitives in English. English Studies 76: 367–388.

Finite and gerundive complementation in Modern and Present-day English


Schachter, Paul 1976 A nontransformational account of gerundive nominals in English. Linguistic Inquiry 7(2): 205–241. Smith, Michael B. 2002 Conceptual distance vs. conceptual overlap: Motivating morphosyntactic polysemy in two English verb complement constructions. Paper presented at the CSDL conference Language, Culture and Mind, Rice University, Houston, October 11–14. Tissari, Heli 2007 Compressing emotion to politeness: On I fear and I’m afraid. In: Matti Rissanen, Marianna Hintikka, Leena Kahlas-Tarkka and Roderick McConchie (eds.), Change in Meaning and the Meaning of Change: Studies in Semantics and Grammar from Old to Present-Day English, 57–90. (Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki LXXII.) Helsinki: Société Néophilologique. Traugott, Elizabeth Closs 1989 On the rise of epistemic meanings in English: An example of subjectification in semantic change. Language 65: 31–55. Trousdale, Graeme 2008a Constructions in grammaticalization and lexicalization: Evidence from the history of a composite predicate construction in English. In: Graeme Trousdale and Nikolas Gisborne (eds.), Constructional approaches to English Grammar, 33–68. Berlin: Mouton. Trousdale, Graeme 2008b Words and constructions in grammaticalization: The end of the English impersonal construction. In: Susan Fitzmaurice and Donka Minkova (eds.), Studies in the History of the English Language IV: Empirical and Analytical Advances in the Study of English Language Change, 301–326. Berlin: Mouton. Visser, F. T. H. 1963–1973 An Historical Syntax of the English Language. Leiden: E. J.Brill.

4. Cognitive Approaches to Meaning

Tracing metonymic polysemy through time: material for object mappings in the OED Kathryn Allan

Abstract There has been relatively little work investigating the diachronic development of metonymy. Although it is often observed that metonymy is a common trigger for semantic change (e. g. Traugott and Dasher 2005), it is not clear whether metonymical mappings commonly involve clear stages of semantic development that are diachronically separate, or whether more often the nature of metonymy results in a much “messier” situation where several metonymically related senses of a lexeme surface around the same time. Other questions relating to how metonymical senses develop and change remain open, such as how and why new senses are motivated at a particular time, why some metonymically related senses become conventional but other apparently possible ones do not, and why particular senses become obsolete. There is a need for a much more detailed consideration of individual cases of metonymic polysemy (a term used by Koch 1999), which takes account of established theories of lexical semantics alongside cognitive theories of metonymy. This paper considers issues relating to the development of particular conventionalised metonymies in a diachronic context, using data from the Oxford English Dictionary. Specifically, it traces the historical development of a small group of lexemes that evidence metonymical senses of the type material for object, e. g. glass for ‘vessel’, and explores the extent to which metonymical mappings of a particular type follow a similar pattern diachronically. It is argued that a diachronic perspective can be helpful and valuable in formulating and testing theories of metonymy, and in understanding the relationship between metaphor, metonymy and literal language.

1. Introduction Metonymy has long been recognised as a common trigger for semantic change, and most (if not all) manuals of semantic and lexical change acknowledge metonymical processes as a central factor in the development of polysemy. For example, Ullmann’s seminal handbook Principles of Semantics lists metonymy as one of four “cardinal types” of associations that can initiate semantic change (alongside metaphor, folk etymology and ellipsis; 1957: 79–80), and more recently, Traugott and Dasher argue that it is a major mechanism of semantic change (2005: 27–34). Blank and Koch suggest that “Nowadays, even manuals


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of historical linguistics refer to issues in cognitive research relevant to problems of diachrony” (1999: 10). However, the two disciplines do not appear to have informed each other to the same extent, and in general there has been relatively little examination of diachronic data within cognitive semantics. This paper takes as a starting point Blank and Koch’s assertion that “investigation of diachronic problems can […] sharpen our view for fundamental semantic processes and should therefore be able to advance theorizing in cognitive linguistics” (Blank and Koch 1999: 10). Work such as Tissari (2003), Gevaert (2005) and Allan (2006) has shown the value of examining metaphorical mappings diachronically, and it is suggested here that theories of metonymy can similarly benefit from a diachronic perspective. What follows is a preliminary attempt to explore a small amount of data for one specific type of metonymy, material for object, as a way of considering wider issues related to metonymy and to mapping processes.

2. Background to this study 2.1. Synchronic vs. diachronic perspectives on metonymy Recent work on metonymy has distinguished several patterns of metonymy, and these can be markedly different in the way they “behave” in discourse. Some types of metonymical mappings are produced ad hoc in restricted contexts, and these are unlikely to become entrenched; Taylor cites the example of waiters/waitresses referring to customers by the food they order in a restaurant, as in expressions like The pork chop left without paying (Taylor 2002: 325). However, other types of mappings are not restricted by context to the same extent, and these often become conventionalised; for example, glass ‘vessel made from glass’ is common in English and tends to be recorded in dictionaries. It is generally accepted that the synchronic relationship between the related senses of polysemous lexemes like glass is the result of diachronic processes of semantic change, and the term metonymy is commonly used both to describe the diachronic process by which a particular set of related senses evolve, and the synchronic property of metonymically related senses that particular lexical items exhibit. This has led to a potentially confusing lack of distinction between, on the one hand, the type of metonymy that is available “online” (such as the restaurant example) and, on the other, conventional, entrenched metonymy. To address the issue of the difference between these, Koch proposes a helpful distinction between metonymy and metonymic polysemy:

Tracing metonymic polysemy through time


To keep things clear, it would be better to call cases like Eng. bar (with respect to its senses […]) ‘metonymic polysemy’. Nevertheless, there is a close relationship between ad hoc metonymy […] and metonymic polysemy […]: just as polysemy in general develops through ‘lexicalization’ of a semantic change ultimately triggered by a contextual and/or expressive ad hoc usage of a word in discourse, metonymic polysemy also develops through lexicalization out of ad hoc metonymic usage in discourse – or put the other way round, metonymy constitutes an ad hoc innovation that can potentially induce a ‘metonymic change’ in the meaning of the lexeme concerned, which thereby becomes (metonymically) polysemous. (Koch 1999: 140)

The issues of how and why particular ad hoc metonymies develop into cases of metonymic polysemy are not addressed by Koch, and appear to have received little attention in the literature. This paper will examine a group of metonymical mappings that have become conventionalised, and in particular will consider the following questions: • Is there usually, or always, time delay between the attestation of the “source” meaning of a lexical item and the emergence of any metonymically related senses? • In terms of diachronic development, do metonymies of a particular type (i. e., the types identified in lists such as that presented in Radden and Kövecses 1999 or Peirsman and Geeraerts 2006) behave in a similar way? • Why do some lexemes develop more conventional metonymies than others? The data used in this paper is taken exclusively from the Oxford English Dictionary (henceforth OED), because of my focus on the diachronic development of metonymic polysemy, i. e. on the results of metonymically motivated change and the historical evidence for the way in which this change has occurred through time. The OED is a particularly valuable source for this kind of analysis, because it draws on a huge compilation of data on historical sense development that spans a long historical period; as an individual researcher (or as part of a small team) it would be impossible to replicate the results of the OED’s reading and research by examining currently available diachronic corpora and text databases. To a certain extent, using the OED as a data source ties this study to a particular analysis of sense distinctions, although the illustrative quotations provided in each entry allow one to “drill down” to some extent. It would also be possible to use synchronic corpora to examine the relationship between established senses and innovative metonymical senses (used by some speakers but not in general conventional use); research of this kind might make it possible to identify examples of change in progress, and allow the scholar to use a synchronic snapshot to explore the mechanisms of change close-up. However, because my interest here is in the results of change and the time periods


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involved in this change, I have not further explored the potential for this kind of work, which would certainly merit a study of its own. 2.2. What is metonymy? Although metonymy has become an important focus for research in cognitive linguistics in the past decade, there is still a high level of disagreement about the nature of metonymy. This is well documented (see for example, Haser 2005: 13–52) and is discussed only very briefly here. Generally, scholars tend to define metonymy by comparing and contrasting it with metaphor, but there remains difficulty about how best to distinguish between metaphor and metonymy in a meaningful and theoretically viable way. Within cognitive linguistics, it is common to make a distinction between metaphor as a mapping across conceptual domains and metonymy as a mapping within a single domain, or following Croft, within a single domain matrix (Croft 2002; Barcelona 2002). Although this is a useful shorthand for the key difference between the two types of mapping, it involves a subjective judgement about the boundaries between domains, and several scholars (e. g. Peirsman and Geeraerts 2006) have pointed out that these boundaries are notoriously difficult to ascertain. An alternative and perhaps more traditional approach is to make a distinction between mappings that involve similarity, which are metaphorical in nature, and those that involve conceptual “closeness”, or contiguity, between source and target, which are metonymical. In cases of metonymy, there should be no implied comparison between entities that are perceived as similar in some way, so that metonymical mapping commonly has a referential function and does not imply or “say something new” about the target concept.1 Rather, metonymy arises from associations between concepts that are closely related in experience. Peirsman and Geeraerts (2006) suggest that contiguity might be a more reliable criterion than the cross-domain/intra-domain distinction, but they acknowledge that it also relies on subjective judgements about the conceptual “distance” between related concepts; in this respect, it shares some of the limitations of the domain approach. The issue of how to define and demarcate metonymy is further complicated by the existence of mappings that involve both metaphor and metonymy (or that can be analysed as either), such as metaphors motivated by metonymy or blends that have both metaphorical and metonymical inputs. 1

However, recent work in the field has suggested that metonymy can also be nonreferential, since metonymy can occur on the predicational and illocutionary levels. See Panther and Thornburg (2007: 236–263).

Tracing metonymic polysemy through time


2.3. The metaphor-metonymy-literal language continuum Scholars including Radden (2002) have observed that “the traditional distinction between metaphor and metonymy can no longer be upheld” (Radden 2002: 431). He proposes that the two types of mapping are most helpfully seen as points on a mapping continuum, with “prototypical” metaphor at one extreme and “prototypical” metonymy at the other. A prototypical instance of metaphor might be one that is very clearly motivated by perceived similarity between source and target, such as pig for ‘untidy person’; a prototypical instance of metonymy might be one that is very clearly referential and motivated by contiguity between source and target, such as suit for ‘business man’. More difficult cases, such as metaphor motivated by metonymy (e. g. an instance of primary metaphor) can be placed somewhere in the middle of the continuum. Although it is not the focus of his article, Radden also suggests that literal language is part of the same continuum, and is located next to metonymy. He considers different uses of the attributive adjective high as illustrating a “gradual transition from literalness via different stages of metonymy to metaphor” (2002: 409); there are relatively clear examples of the literal, metonymical and metaphorical use of high (in high tower, high temperature and high quality, respectively), but also uses that appear to represent mid-points between these categories. He argues that high tide is “‘partially’, or weakly, metonymic” (2002: 409) since it refers to both vertical extension, i. e. the literal sense of high, but at the same time also to horizontal extension, which he considers a metonymical use of the lexeme. (High temperature is more clearly metonymical, since it maps the scale of verticality to degrees of temperature.) This study accepts the idea that neither metaphor nor metonymy are clearcut categories, and focuses on the relationship between metonymy and literal language. A diachronic investigation of the material for object mapping appears to support the view that metonymy and literal language are located on a continuum, since some instances of the mapping are intuitively more clearly metonymical than others (discussed further below). Metonymy might therefore be viewed as the middle point of a continuum with prototypical metaphor at one end and literal language at the other, as Radden suggests.


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3. Basis of this study 3.1. Data The data that is examined here relates to one particular type of metonymy, the mapping between material and object that is evident in examples like glass (with the meaning ‘drinking vessel’) and iron (with the meaning ‘appliance used to smooth clothes’). The material for object metonymy has been chosen because it is uncontroversial in terms of any debate about the defining properties of metonymy as distinct from metaphor; it relies on the close conceptual relationship between an object and one of the properties of that object, i. e., the material from which it is constituted, and there is no sense in which these two entities can be said to be similar (or to be perceived as similar). In terms of a metaphor-metonymy continuum, therefore, instances of this type of mapping would certainly be close to the metonymy end, and could perhaps be considered as fairly typical examples of metonymy. However, by comparison with other “clear-cut” metonymies (in this sense), instances of this type of mapping generally have a feature that is not typical, and this might prevent them from being considered prototypical in some frameworks. Following scholars such as Blank (1999) and Seto (1999), Peirsman and Geeraerts examine metonymy as a category in itself, and suggest that it has a prototypical core focused on the relationship of contiguity. The category extends from this core along two dimensions, “strength of contact” and “boundedness” (2006: 278–279); the most prototypical examples of metonymy are those where the source and target have the highest strength of contact (i. e. physical contact between the source and target) and are both (physical or abstract) bounded entities. By this criteria, spatial part & whole metonymies like the following form the prototypical core for the category: (1)

Tony Blair is the Prime Minister of England. (Peirsman and Geeraerts 2006: 280)

Here one bounded space, England, stands for another, the whole of the UK, and these have the highest possible level of strength of contact because one is physically part of the other. material for object metonymies are prototypical on the “strength of contact” criteria, since they are a specific type of part for whole mapping, but they are non-prototypical in that they commonly involve one bounded entity and one unbounded entity, and therefore a switch from a mass noun to a count noun linguistically. For example, glass in its material sense is a mass noun which stands for an unbounded entity, whereas a

Tracing metonymic polysemy through time


glass ‘a vessel made of glass’ is bounded. This is discussed further in section 6 below. Twenty lexemes denoting types of material have been chosen as the basis of this study, and these are listed in table 1 below. Table 1. MATERIAL FOR OBJECT lexemes included in this study 1. bronze

6. iron

11. nylon

16. steel

2. chalk

7. lead

12. paper

17. stone

3. copper

8. leather

13. plastic

18. vinyl

4. glass

9. marble

14. rubber

19. wood

5. hair

10. metal

15. silk

20. wool

For each item, data from the OED has been used to examine the following: 1. whether one or more conventional metonymically related senses develop; 2. if these metonymically related senses are found in general and lasting use; 3. when they are attested (relative to when the source meaning is attested), whether there is a time delay between the recording of the source material sense and the target object sense(s), and why this might be. In this relatively brief article, the discussions below refer only to selected examples in considering each of these questions. A full list of the material for object senses that have been included in the data appears in the Appendix.

3.2. Using dictionary material The particular examples that have been included in the sample have been chosen on the basis of intuition, partly because there are particular difficulties in searching dictionaries (or corpora) for instances of metonymy. Markert and Nissim (2006) discuss the way in which dictionaries treat the metonymical senses of lexical items in their study of proper names, using data from Wordnet. They conclude that there are three issues that are particularly problematic for those using dictionary material to study metonymy:2 Dictionaries necessarily include only conventional metonymic senses, whereas metonymies are open-ended […] But even conventional metonymies are often not 2

They go on to say that it is also problematic that dictionaries do not always include proper names, but this is not relevant to the present study.


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included systematically […] Even if literal and metonymic senses are both included they are listed [in some dictionaries] as unrelated entries and the metonymic relationship between them is not expressed […] (Markert and Nissim 2006: 154)

The first of these issues, the inclusion of only conventionalised metonymy in dictionaries, is unproblematic for the present study: the aim here is to focus on the process by which metonymy develops into metonymic polysemy. This is taken to have occurred when a material for object sense is recorded in the OED entry for a particular lexeme. Because it is compiled on historical principles, the OED’s policy on the inclusion of lexical items and senses of lexical items is based on consistent criteria related to frequency, and this means it offers the most reliable material currently available on what can be considered conventional, since it is based on much larger and more consistent data samples across time than other diachronic corpora at the present time. This addresses Markert and Nissim’s second concern about systematicity. The final point made by Markert and Nissim about the way in which dictionaries handle the relationships between metonymically related senses is perhaps the most relevant to my study and to other work on the diachronic development of metonymy that uses dictionary material. Historical dictionaries like the OED always present etymologically related senses of the same lexeme in a single dictionary entry and treat these as examples of polysemy rather than homonymy. This is where their practice diverges from that of synchronic dictionaries, which generally adopt a basically intuitive approach to the difference between polysemy and homonymy. Obviously this makes historical dictionaries much more suitable for diachronic studies, where the semantic development of any lexical item is crucially important. However, the way in which the OED (and other dictionaries) present a word history does not necessarily include information on why particular semantic developments occur, or label semantic relationships with the kind of terminology that semanticists might use. Since the main purpose of a historical dictionary is to document word histories rather than analyse them, terms like metaphor and metonymy tend to be used only when a particular semantic shift occurs which is in some way opaque or doubtful and therefore requires explicit discussion or explanation.3 In fact, the OED would normally try to avoid engagement with particular theoretical 3 At the time of writing, when entries from M - ramvert had been revised for the 3rd edition, the online search of the OED recovered metonymy (or a related form) a total of 53 times in definitions and 15 times in etymologies as a term used to explain the relationship between the senses of lexemes. Of these 68 instances, 48 occur in new 3rd edition entries, suggesting that metonymy is used more frequently to explain sense relationships than it was in the 2nd edition. It is likely that this is only

Tracing metonymic polysemy through time


frameworks in the way it presents information. In cases such as material for object metonymic polysemy, the relationship between the source and target is fairly transparent conceptually, and this makes it unlikely that the OED would use the term metonymy to explain a semantic shift. While this is entirely justifiable, it does make it very difficult to search for cases of metonymic polysemy in any systematic way.

4. Degrees of polysemy and the importance of considering intra- and extra-linguistic factors The twenty lexemes included in the data all have metonymical object senses at some point in their histories, although many of these senses are now obsolete (e. g. metal with the sense ‘weapon, armour’), and some are restricted to particular discourse areas (e. g. iron and wood for particular types of golf club). Strikingly, although all of these lexemes show patterns of metonymic polysemy of the same type, beyond this they vary enormously, to the extent that it is problematic to present any kind of meaningful statistical analysis of the data. Perhaps most basically, the lexemes differ in the degree of (material for object) metonymic polysemy they exhibit, both synchronically and diachronically.4 Some lexemes develop a single metonymical object sense across time, e. g. vinyl for ‘record(s)’, nylons for ‘stockings or tights’,5 hair for ‘cloth, mat’. However, this is relatively unusual, and the majority of the lexemes examined develop many more than one metonymically related sense diachronically. Notable examples are glass, for which the OED lists 17 different object senses because it is a more generally used term currently, though; there is no evidence that the OED has adopted a conscious policy of using terms like this more frequently. 4 My comments here relate to material for object metonymical polysemous senses, but I would suggest that other metonymical and non-metonymical polysemous senses are also absolutely relevant to the questions of motivation and conventionalisation of material for object senses. As Allan (2008: 114–115) comments, it seems likely that it is not possible for a lexeme to exhibit polysemy if this is likely to result in confusion, and in practice if two meanings are conceptually close enough to be confused (but distant enough to be distinct from one another) some kind of change is likely to occur, so that either one sense will become obsolete, or one or both senses will shift semantically. 5 Nylons always occurs in the plural with this sense; no metonymical sense is recorded for nylon singular. Presumably this is simply because items of clothing which are worn on the legs and are close-fitting are conventionally given a plural name, e. g. trousers, tights, culottes etc.


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in total, including ‘drinking vessel’, ‘pane of glass’, ‘mirror’, ‘lens’, ‘telescope’ and ‘barometer’; and iron, for which 16 are listed including senses as divergent as ‘harpoon’, ‘golf club’, ‘money’ and ‘instrument used to smooth out linen etc.’6 For most of these highly polysemous lexemes, several object senses coexist at any one point in the lexeme’s history; for example, between 1800 and 1899 there are attestations for nine different object senses of lead. It is difficult to note this difference in the level of object metonymicity of different lexemes without considering why it is the case, but equally difficult to account for it in any detailed way without a more extended examination than this study can afford. However, some relevant points can be suggested, and these relate to both intra- and extra-linguistic factors. It must be noted that the materials denoted by the lexemes are of widely different natures, and obviously the range of objects they can constitute depends on their inherent characteristics and versatility. A material like wood can be used for a wide range of purposes, and the high number of object senses listed in the OED reflect this: wood burns well, so can be used as fuel; it has a rigid structure and is watertight when treated, so can be used as a building material or to make vessels; it is soft enough to be relatively easily worked, so can be finely carved into decorative objects or instruments; and so on. By contrast, some materials are less versatile and lend themselves most obviously to particular uses, and correspondingly the lexemes that denote them have a low number of object senses. The man-made material nylon is a classic example, since it was designed to have properties that would make it suitable for use in textiles, and therefore does not readily lend itself to other uses. A slightly different kind of example is bronze, which is strongly associated with art and artworks; again, it is a manmade material created for a particular purpose, but it is also interesting because the lexeme was borrowed into English (from Italian via French) specifically for artworks made of this material and for the material itself. It therefore seems unsurprising that the lexeme does not denote a wide range of objects.


In general, I have taken OED definitions as definitive in considering the number of metonymically related senses that develop for any lexeme, and used my own judgement to pick out which senses can be considered to be material for object metonymies. Beyond this, I have followed the OED’s division of senses with two exceptions: if a form is very obviously an ellipsis (identified as such in the OED), it has been excluded, e. g. bronze as an elliptical form of bronze medal (OED sense 1c); and in a very few cases, I have collapsed two senses into one for the purposes of the study, e. g. in the OED, mirror sense 8 is divided into ‘a glass mirror’ (sense 8a) and ‘applied to a mirror of other material’ (sense 8b), but since in other cases a similar distinction is not made I have not preserved this.

Tracing metonymic polysemy through time


However, not all lexemes denoting materials that have very characteristic properties of this kind have a small number of object senses, and to account for this, intra-linguistic systemic factors must also be considered. One of the most highly polysemous lexemes in the data is paper, for which the OED lists 21 distinct object senses (some of these are presented as subsenses of more general categories of object in the OED’s analysis). Obviously paper as a material has a very limited number of purposes; it can have symbols or pictures marked on it in some way, or it can form a wrapper or envelope to cover or enclose something, and the senses of the lexeme reflect this. However, the OED entry lists a high number of specialised uses in particular discourse areas. For example, all of the (plural) sub-senses in sense 12 denote official documents of some kind, but each of these relate to what is salient within a certain context:7 for the crew of a ship, papers identify and legitimise a particular vessel or signify an individual’s right to travel (sense 12a); within the military, papers are certificates which must accompany applications to resign (12b); and for a vet, papers establish an animal’s pedigree (sense 12c). These are classified as subsenses in the OED because they are closely related in terms of etymology, and develop one from another; the letters that label subsenses within 12 represent developments in a historical branching structure. In this particular instance, these subsenses are also closely related semantically; in a traditional classification, they might be regarded as context-dependent co-hyponyms of a broader superordinate category ‘type of official document’. This close sense relationship means that the OED subsenses would not be regarded as full senses in some frameworks. Croft and Cruse (2004) discuss multiple meanings in terms of the degree of autonomy between senses, and by their classification this group of meanings of paper would be classified as microsenses, i. e. “distinct sense units of a word that occur in different contexts and whose default construals stand in a relation of mutual incompatability at the same hierarchical level” (Croft and Cruse 2004: 128–129). These are not considered as full senses because full senses (of the same lexical form) cannot be hyponyms of a superordinate category, and therefore have a higher degree of autonomy. A similar example, though one which perhaps demonstrates a more complex relationship between multiple meanings, is the lexeme glass. A key characteristic of glass is its transparency and the fact that it can be used to magnify images, so that it is used to make lenses for different kinds of purposes. It can therefore denote several lens-type objects including a pair of spectacles (in plural; sense 10a), a telescope (10b) or a microscope (10c). Each of these uses involves a metonymi7

Kövecses and Radden’s (1998: 70) discussion of salience in terms of situational relevance is useful here.


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cal chain, where there is material for object metonymic polysemy (glass ‘lens made of glass’) but also a part-whole mapping to the larger object that has a lens as its salient feature. It is also important to take into account the way in which systemic factors make particular senses “available” for conventional use within the context of a particular discourse area. Both iron and wood can denote types of golf club (iron 4e; wood 7g), precisely because of the contrast between them; it would not make sense to use one material for object metonymy in isolation to describe a type of golf club, because if all golf clubs were made of the same material this could not be used as the salient, defining feature that made a distinction between each type. Although it is much more difficult to make suggestions about metonymical senses that do not appear in the data, it seems relevant to consider why theoretically possible metonymies do not become conventionalised. As Geeraerts (1997: 103) points out, there is a difference between extensions of meaning that are possible or plausible, such as typical classes of mappings motivated by metaphor or metonymy (like material for object) and those that are actualized and result in lexical-semantic change. It seems likely that cognitive principles such as those mentioned in Kövecses and Radden (1998), which can be seen to either “sanction” or constrain the occurrence of ad-hoc instances of metonymy, will have an equally strong effect on whether or not a mapping becomes conventionalised (resulting in metonymic polysemy). To some extent, this can account for the specialised senses of material for object metonymies in particular contexts discussed in the previous paragraph. As well as this, though, intra-systemic factors must be involved as additional and perhaps even more powerful constraining mechanisms. Whether or not there are already descriptively adequate lexemes to denote any object must be one of these factors; if this is the case, it seems less likely that a material for object metonymy will “stick” in the lexicon. One example might be the lack of any OED sense ‘table’ or ‘table-top’ for the lexeme wood. Table tops are most commonly made of a large slab of wood, and this was even more usual in the past; given other comparable examples of metonymic polysemy, notably mahogany for a table made of mahogany wood, it seems fairly plausible that this kind of metonymical extension might occur. However, no ‘table’ or ‘table-top’ sense is recorded for wood. It is notable that in different periods other lexemes have had this central meaning. Before table became the dominant term for this concept in English, board was also used with the same meaning, and this can be found from the Old English period onwards. Table is not attested until the Middle English period, and came into English as part of the large scale borrowing of Romance lexis that occurred in the period after the Norman Conquest. As a result of

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this large scale borrowing, very many pairs of synonyms including board and table arose; subsequently, these diverged, so that board shifted semantically and is no longer used with the same meaning.8 Wood meaning ‘table’ may not have become conventional simply because it would have been redundant, thus violating the principle of efficiency in the lexicon where exact synonymy is extremely rare (or perhaps non-existent). Such examples clearly demonstrate the importance of looking beyond any individual lexeme in examining metonymy and metonymic polysemy, a point made by Geeraerts in his discussion of mechanisms of semantic change: Although classifications of lexical-semantic change are often restricted to the semasiological perspective, such a strict distinction between the semasiological and the onomasiological approaches is misleading. It should not be forgotten, in fact, that the semasiological extension of the range of meanings of an existing word is itself one of the major mechanisms of onomasiological change – one of the mechanisms, that is, through which a concept to be expressed gets linked to a lexical expression. (Geeraerts 1997: 94–95)

Several scholars share this view and have approached figurative language from an onomasiological perspective (see, for example, Tissari 2005; Fabiszak and Hebda, this volume). However, it is still the case that exclusively semasiological approaches are more usual within cognitively-oriented studies of metonymy. I would suggest that the study of onomasiological change is a key area for development in the future, particularly as interest in motivation in language increases. The recently completed Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (Kay et al. 2009), compiled at the University of Glasgow, promises to be a useful tool to facilitate diachronic onomasiological study, and is therefore likely to alleviate some of the difficulties of retrieving data discussed in section 3.2.

5. Time delay in mapping from source to target Apart from the differences in degrees of polysemy in the data, there is also wide variation in the way metonymical mappings become established through time. It is important to note that the dates of attestation listed in the OED cannot be equated with dates of usage, and can only be taken to be very rough indicators of the periods in which particular senses of each lexeme became established or faded into obsolescence. There are several reasons for this. The OED relies on written sources, and it is generally accepted that new lexemes 8 For a full discussion, see Durkin (2009: 231–233).


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and new senses of existing lexemes tend to be found first in spoken language, making it difficult to track their earliest uses in modern times, and impossible in earlier periods. Furthermore, the first attestations given in the OED are not always the earliest attestations in print; since the first edition was finished in 1928, many earlier and later examples have been identified, and these will be incorporated in the third edition, currently underway (see Durkin 2002 for a discussion of how much this is likely to change the dates of attestation in the OED as a whole). Finally, but most importantly, the OED records the language in periods for which the surviving evidence is patchy at best, and this means that some lexemes are not attested at particular times even though it seems highly likely that they must have existed. A good example is provided by the most common current material sense of chalk (OED sense 2), this is attested in the compound chalkpit (Old English cealcpyt) in a 956 text, and then again in c1400, but the OED does not list any attestations for the period between these dates. It seems highly unlikely that this sense of the lexeme faded out of use for 450 years (though it is possible), and the obvious conclusion is that if there really are no examples in use this reflects the lack of evidence that survives in early English. Overall, as Durkin asserts, “Caution is therefore advisable when making use of [… existing OED] data for statistical purposes” (Durkin 2002: 75). Having said this, though, the dates of attestation for the material for object metonyms presented in the OED do seem to provide some indication of whether object senses occur significantly later than material senses for this type of mapping. In some cases, little or no time delay is recorded between the attestation of the literal sense of a lexeme and a metonymically-related object sense: for example, nylon, discussed above, is attested earliest with the meanings ‘Any of various synthetic thermoplastic polymers’ in 1938, ‘fabric made from nylon yarn’ in 1940, and (in plural) ‘stockings or tights’ in 1940. This clearly shows that the metonymical mapping of the lexeme (and the conscious coining of the lexeme in the first place) was motivated by new technological developments: when the new product, nylon hosiery, was created, the material name was used to refer to it and immediately became conventional because this name became generally known and used. Since the material was designed for a particular purpose and used for this purpose immediately after its invention, there is no discernable time delay between the attestation of the literal ‘fabric’ sense and the metonymical object sense (although a short time delay may have occurred, this would be impossible to prove). This is a very straightforward example of a recognised principle of lexical change: when a new concept emerges (or an existing concept changes in some significant way), either a new term will be borrowed or created for this concept, or an existing lexeme will be

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used with an “extended” sense, motivating semantic change and potentially the development of polysemy for particular lexemes. A second example is provided by sense 9 of lead, defined in the OED as ‘In the knitting machine: The lead or tin socket holding the shanks of one or more needles’ and attested earliest in 1839. Obviously, a knitting machine is a very recent invention, and occasions a need for new labels to refer to associated concepts such as constituent parts, and the new sense of lead arises as a result. However, in many instances it is much harder to account for the time delay between the object and metonymical material senses of a lexeme without doing much more thorough research on the concepts involved and on developments elsewhere in the lexicon. For example, it is difficult to account for the time delay between the material sense of metal, which is attested from c1230 onwards, and any object sense, particularly since the material definition draws attention to the nature of metal ‘esp. as used in the manufacture of objects, artefacts, and utensils’. The earliest object sense is defined as ‘A weapon, arms, or armour made of metal’. This is attested earliest in c1400 and latest in 1663, but given that no quotations are listed for the 1500s, and the definition covers several slightly different senses, this may be a fairly rare sense even though the concepts it denotes would not have been new in the 15th century. The next earliest attested object sense (in 1485) is ‘a medal, a coin’. Compared to the other lexemes denoting metals in the data, metal has very few object senses, and most of these do not appear to be attested over a particularly long period; the only current senses are (in the plural form) ‘The rails of a railway or tramway’ and ‘The guns or firepower of a warship, etc.’, which the OED notes is chiefly found in the phrase weight of metal. By contrast, there is a much shorter time delay between the material and object senses of steel, which are both recorded in Old English, and steel has many more object senses with generally longer periods of currency, although the current senses are also relatively rare and specialised. One possibility is that metal is less used metonymically because it is a less specific term: steel, copper, bronze and iron all denote particular types of metals, whereas metal can be used as a superordinate term for a number of different materials. It is possible that for this reason it is less likely to be strongly associated with particular objects, but this suggestion can only be made very tentatively without evidence. Overall, the huge variation in the diachronic relationship between material and object senses of any lexeme suggests that there need not be significant time delay between these; the emergence of metonymical senses appears to be governed largely by extra-linguistic factors related to the nature of particular entities and the cultural context (in the widest sense) in which they exist. Logically, object senses cannot emerge before material senses if the relation-


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ship between these senses is motivated by the prior existence of a material sense, although it may be that in some cases not examined in this paper the opposite relationship exists diachronically. One possible example is sack (Old English sacc), which is recorded with both the senses ‘bag’ and ‘cloth’ in Old English (with no difference in dates of attestation); its Latin etymon also has both senses, making it difficult to say whether either sense can be regarded as the primary “literal” sense. Sacks may be so called because they are made out of sack, or sack may be so called because sacks are usually made out of it. It may be that there are a small number of other examples of this kind, but again further work would have to be done to find these.

6. Degrees of metonymicity In his 2006 study of metaphor, Hanks observes that not all metaphors appear to be equally metaphorical, and suggests that the notion of gradability is helpful in analysing examples of metaphor. He argues that the fewer properties shared between the source and target (in his terminology, primary and secondary subject) of a metaphor, i. e. the greater semantic “distance” between the two concepts, the greater the metaphoricity or semantic “resonance”. For example, he compares the phrases “a desert of railway tracks” and “a desert of barren obsession”. In the first phrase, the concepts involved in the metaphor both relate to physical locations, and therefore this is a property they share; by contrast, in the latter example, the target is an abstract quality, and therefore is semantically further away from the source. He concludes that “a desert of railway tracks” therefore has less semantic resonance, because In the most metaphorical senses, the secondary subject shares fewest properties with the primary subject. Therefore, the reader or hearer has to work correspondingly harder to create a relevant interpretation. At the other extreme, the more shared properties there are, the weaker the metaphoricity. (Hanks 2006: 22)

Although I am unsure about some of the terminology Hanks uses, a similar phenomenon appears to occur in the material for object data, and to some extent it seems possible to grade the “metonymicity” of the lexemes in the data. There are some cases that are easy to classify as metonymic polysemy, since the material and object senses are intuitively separate (although connected). For example, OED sense 4b of plastic is ‘credit card’. Intuitively it is easy to make a distinction between plastic as a material and credit cards; the fact that credit cards are made of plastic is only one of their properties, and this ‘credit card’ sense of plastic could be reasonably clearly defined without refer-

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ence to the material (though this is obviously evident from the lexeme itself). In the terms in which polysemy is discussed in Croft and Cruse (2004), these are sense units that exhibit a reasonable level of autonomy, and arguably they might be considered as full senses which are “mutually exclusive as foci of attention” (2004: 112). It is possible to think of examples that seem to illustrate the degree of autonomy between the two senses, such as the following: (2)

I needed new chairs, so I used plastic.

This could mean either that new chairs were fashioned out of the material plastic, or that new chairs were bought using a credit card. Although this is a fairly contrived example, it does seem to show that in this (unlikely) example, the two meanings of plastic are antagonistic, so that one reading excludes the other. To an extent, the fact that most of the metonymical mappings in the data involve a switch from mass noun to count noun (discussed in section 3.1 above) separates the source and target and gives each sense a certain degree of autonomy; for example, iron ‘type of metal’ and iron ‘implement’ cannot be used in the same way grammatically/syntactically (as the example above shows, plastic meaning ‘credit cards’ plural is a notable exception, although the OED entry includes examples where it is used in the singular with a preceding article). This is one property that the sources and targets of material for object mappings do not share. In other respects, though, the boundaries between some of the material and object senses of lexemes in the data are fairly blurred, and in some cases there is minimal conceptual difference between metonymical senses and senses that can be considered purely literal. For example, wood has various closely related senses including OED senses 6b ‘as prepared for and used in arts and crafts’, 6c ‘as used for fuel; FIREWOOD’, and 6e ‘As the material of an idol or image (Biblical.)’. These are all listed as subsenses of 6, and are narrowed senses of 6a, ‘The substance of which the roots, trunks, and branches of trees or shrubs consist’, but OED editors obviously perceived enough of a difference (and found enough supporting evidence) to separate each sense rather than simply regarding them as context-specific uses of the general meaning 6 which did not require separate definitions. 6b, 6c and 6e would not be considered to be full senses in Croft and Cruse’s framework, but appear to meet at least some of the criteria to be considered as a possible “facets” of sense 6a, i. e. “distinguishable components of a global whole” (Croft and Cruse 2004: 116). 6b and 6e both relate to slightly different uses of wood as a constitutive material, 6b as a type of raw supply, and 6e a characteristic element of one type of object. 6c relates to a completely different function of wood as a type of fuel, and therefore appears to show some degree of autonomy of mean-


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ing. Firstly, it shows relational autonomy in that it participates in its own sense relations (Croft and Cruse 2004: 117). It is a co-hyponym of other types of fuel, e. g. coal, which could not be considered a co-hyponym of either 6b or 6e, and arguably it is the superordinate for the hyponyms log and kindling; possible co-hyponyms of 6b might be stone or leather, and types of wood such as cedar and mahogany are usually hyponyms of this specific meaning. Secondly, 6b/e and 6c appear to show compositional autonomy: it would be possible to find predicates that could apply to the ‘fuel’ sense which would not be relevant to the ‘constitutive material’ senses, such as dry, or vice versa, such as turned or pliable. It appears to be more difficult to show that these OED subsenses could be regarded as facets in terms of having autonomous cores, since it is difficult to “isolate” the ‘constitutive material’ and ‘fuel’ subsenses in the way that the [TEXT] facet of book can be isolated (Croft and Cruse 2004: 119), but on the other hand, the subsenses do appear to be referentially distinct in the following examples:9 (3a) (3b)

I’ve got some wood to keep us warm. [FUEL] The carpenter has run out of wood, but there are still logs for the fire. [CONSTITUTIVE MATERIAL]

Although each of these OED subsenses of wood (sense 6) are literal, narrowed (or specialized) senses rather than metonymies, they seem to “shade into” the more clearly metonymical senses of wood listed separately as specific senses of branch 7, which have a greater degree of autonomy. Branch 7 is assigned the general meaning ‘something made of wood’, but the specific subsenses also seem to vary in metonymicity, and in general there is a close relationship between the senses in branches 6 and 7. Sense 7f, ‘each of the bowls in the game of bowls’, seems a much clearer case of metonymy than 7b, ‘a block of wood used for engraving or printing, as distinguished from a metal plate or type,’ even though both can be used as count nouns. In the latter case, the material seems to be the single defining property of the object, whereas in the former, 9

The fact that each of these OED subsenses relates to wood as a physical entity makes it more difficult to judge the relevance of the notion of facet, particularly since most of the lexemes that Croft and Cruse suggest possess facets are not comparable. Having said this, they do include the example chicken, which has the facets [BIRD] and [FOOD], and this seems to be the most similar to wood. The two facets have different co-hyponyms (e. g. sparrow and pork respectively), and different predicates can apply to each (e. g. a noisy chicken vs. a tasty bird); as with wood, it seems more difficult to construct examples to show that these facets have autonomous cores.

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it seems to be only one of several properties which happens to be useful as a label; it would be possible to define a bowl without immediate reference to the material it is made of, and therefore this sense of the lexeme wood appears to be more separate from the literal meaning. Ironically, perhaps the most clearly metonymical sense of wood is OED sense 7g, ‘A golf club with a wooden head’. The fact that it is easily possible to separate the source and target of this metonymy is proved by the subsequent generalisation (or widening) that has occurred, leading to the current use of this lexeme to describe any golf club of a particular weight, whether or not the head is made of wood. Wood must have been the salient property of this type of golf club originally (in comparison with other types of club), because only a particular shape and weight of golf club was made of wood. When the nature of the club changed so that it was not necessarily made of this particular material, the metonymical label was sufficiently established to undergo a further stage of semantic change and generalise so that wood the material was no longer a necessary feature of the object. There are several other lexemes in the data with senses that have generalised semantically so that they can be used to refer to objects which are not made of the particular material denoted by their label. Two of the most frequent current examples are marble sense 11a ‘A little ball made originally of marble and now usually of glass, porcelain, baked clay, etc., used in a children’s game’, and iron sense 5, ‘An implement of iron used when heated to smooth out linen, to press down the seams of cloth, etc. […] In recent use: an electric iron’. In both cases, the objects denoted by these lexemes are usually made of an entirely different material in modern times (usually glass and a combination of materials including stainless steel, respectively); as the nature of these objects have changed, the lexemes that denote them have become less “literal”. Riemer uses the term “post-metonymy” to describe cases of metonymy in which “originally metonymic semantic extensions […] have been reinterpreted and conventionalised/generalised so that […] their contexts of use have ‘overshot’ the domains of their original appropriateness” (Riemer 2002: 394). His study explores a very different set of data, but this term also seems appropriate here. Cases of “post-metonymy” seem, paradoxically, to provide some of the clearest cases of metonymy as a factor in diachronic meaning change: because they involve a second stage of change which is a generalisation of meaning (from an object made of a specific material to any example of that object) they show the clearest separation between the original source and target of the mapping. The difference in degree of metonymicity which appears to be apparent in my data strongly supports the notion of a metonymy-literal language con-


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tinuum. Close to the metonymy end are the senses of material for object lexemes that show the highest degree of autonomy from their source object senses, such as plastic ‘credit card’ or paper ‘playing card’ (OED sense 16a). Specialised literal senses of lexemes such as wood, which would not be considered to be full senses (or micro-senses) in frameworks such as Croft and Cruse (2004), are near to the literal end of the continuum, but perhaps provide a midpoint between non-specialised uses and straightforward metonymical senses. This kind of model relates closely to Barcelona’s comments on “typical” and “peripheral” metonymies: The relative distinctness of source and target […] helps to distinguish ‘typical’ from ‘peripheral’ metonymies (or ‘relatively central’ metonymies from metonymies in a ‘broad sense’), and is also useful as one of the factors that facilitate the conventionalization of a given metonymy. ‘Typical’ metonymies are the ones closest to the basic-level prototype on the metonymicity continuum: like prototypical metonymies, their target must be clearly distinguishable from their source […] (Barcelona 2003: 241)

I would distance my comments from those of Barcelona in as much as I am not using the term “prototypical” in the same way here. My comments on prototypicality relate more to metonymies of this particular type; I would therefore argue that there are more or less “central” metonymical types (since the category of metonymy is structured like other categories with a prototypical “core”, as Peirsman and Geeraerts [2006] argues), but that these types appear to span areas of the metaphor-metonymy-literal language continuum. Within particular types or categories of metonymy, there are more or less central instances. As a category, the material for object type of metonymy appears to span a section of the continuum relatively near to the literal end of the metonymy continuum, but within this “section” some instances are clearly further from the literal end. It seems that particular instances of conventional metonymy can move along the continuum over time, as the concepts that they denote become more established or change. A good example of this is paper sense 10, ‘A newspaper or journal. Also in pl., with the: newspapers collectively’. In its early use (attested from 1642), this might be considered to be somewhere between the poles of literalness and metonymy on a continuum, since the key property of a physical newspaper is the material from which it is constituted. However, technological advances mean that many newspapers now exist in electronic format, and it is possible to use paper to denote the online version of a newspaper.10 This sense is still closely related metonymically, but the concept of a 10

Many examples can be found via Google, including the following, which illustrates the ‘online’ sense very clearly:

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newspaper has changed so that paper no longer has a literal element. In terms of a historical perspective, a metonymically motivated meaning change has resulted in a new sense (perhaps a microsense in Croft and Cruse’s framework), which is in the process of becoming dissociated from its parent sense as a result of technological change in the external world.

7. Conclusion From a preliminary examination of the material for object data listed in table 1, it is clear that metonymies of one particular type behave very differently diachronically. Even though the relationship between the material and metonymic object senses of these lexemes are similar in terms of motivation, it is difficult to identify any kind of patterns in their semantic development. The data shows material for object metonymic polysemy is common, and all of the lexemes in the data show this pattern of semantic development, but the number of metonymic object senses that emerge for different material lexemes varies from one to many. The timescale on which these become conventional enough to be used repeatedly in written texts, and the life-span of a particular metonymical object sense also varies enormously. It looks likely that there is not necessarily any time delay between the emergence of material and object senses, but in some cases metonymical object senses do not become conventional until much later than material senses. Perhaps most crucially, it is impossible to account for the diachronic development of particular lexemes without considering both intra-linguistic systemic factors, such as the existence of semantically related lexemes at any particular point in time, and also extra-linguistic factors that are related to the concepts these lexemes denote. Many of the factors that motivate the development of metonymic polysemy are therefore specific to particular word histories. Traugott and Dasher make this point in their study Regularity in Semantic Change, which does not consider meaning change in nouns: Irregular meaning changes seem to occur primarily in the nominal domain, which is particularly susceptible to extra-linguistic factors such as change in the nature or the social construction of the referent. For example, the referents of towns, armor, When I finish reading my Sunday newspaper, I can’t help but think I’ve just committed an egregious environmental sin – all those poor trees that had to die so I could titter over inane op-eds, guacamole recipes, and overpriced real estate listings! The greener choice would be to read the paper online, correct? (From http:// www.slate.com/id/2185143/, accessed July 2008).


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rockets, vehicles, pens, communication devices, etc., have changed considerably over time, as have concepts of disease, hence the meanings attached to the words referring to them have changed in ways not subject to linguistic generalization. (Traugott and Dasher 2005: 3)

While the irregularity and unpredictability of lexical semantic change poses challenges for any consideration of material for object metonymic polysemy, and for the diachronic study of many other types of polysemy, I contend that there is a need for this kind of research as a means of formulating and testing theories of metonymy, which often neglect a diachronic perspective. The cultural and historical contexts in which metonymy exists and becomes conventionalised cannot be entirely separated from its purely “linguistic” properties, and therefore both linguisitic and extra-linguistic factors must be considered in any diachronic examination of the many types of metonymy.

References Allan, Kathryn 2006 On groutnolls and nog-heads: A case study of the interaction between culture and cognition in intelligence metaphors. In: Anatol Stefanowitsch and Stefan Th. Gries (eds.), Corpus-based Approaches to Metaphor and Metonymy, 175–190. (Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 171.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Allan, Kathryn 2008 Metaphor and Metonymy: A Diachronic Approach. Oxford: WileyBlackwell. Barcelona, Antonio 2002 Clarifying and applying the notions of metaphor and metonymy within cognitive linguistics: An update. In: René Dirven and Ralf Pörings (eds.), Metaphor and Metonymy in Comparison and Contrast, 207–278. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Barcelona, Antonio 2003 Metonymy in cognitive linguistics: An analysis and a few modest proposals. In: Hubert Cuyckens, Thomas Berg, René Dirven and KlausUwe Panther (eds.), Motivation in Language: Studies in Honor of Günther Radden, 223–255. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Blank, Andreas and Peter Koch 1999 Introduction. In: Andreas Blank and Peter Koch (eds.), Historical Semantics and Cognition, 1–14. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Croft, William 2002 The role of domains in the interpretation of metaphors and metonymies. In: René Dirven and Ralf Pörings (eds.), Metaphor and Metonymy in Comparison and Contrast, 161–205. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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Croft, William and D. Alan Cruse 2004 Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Durkin, Philip 2002 Changing documentation in the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary: Sixteenth-century vocabulary as a test case. In: Teresa Fanego, Belén Méndez-Naya and Elena Seoane (eds.), Sounds, Words, Texts and Change: Selected Papers from 11 ICEHL, Santiago de Compostela, 7–11 September 2000, 65–81. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Durkin, Philip 2009 The Oxford Guide to Etymology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Geeraerts, Dirk 1997 Diachronic Prototype Theory: A Contribution to Historical Lexicology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gevaert, Caroline 2005 The anger is heat question: Detecting cultural influence on the conceptualization of anger through diachronic corpus analysis. In: Nicole Delbecque, Johan van der Auwera and Dirk Geeraerts (eds.), Perspectives on Variation: Sociolinguistic, Historical, Comparative, 195–208. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Hanks, Patrick 2006 Metaphoricity is gradable. In: Anatol Stefanowitsch and Stefan Th. Gries (eds.), Corpus-Based Approaches to Metaphor and Metonymy, 17–35. (Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 171.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Haser, Verena 2005 Metaphor, Metonymy and Experientialist Philosophy. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Kay, Christian, Jane Roberts, Michael Samuels and Irené Wotherspoon (eds.) 2009 The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Koch, Peter 1999 On the cognitive bases of metonymy and certain types of word formation. In: Klaus-Uwe Panther and Günther Radden (eds.), Metonymy in Language and Thought, 139–167. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. KĘvecses, Zoltán and Günther Radden 1998 Metonymy: Developing a cognitive linguistic view. Cognitive Linguistics 9(1): 37–77. Markert, Katja and Malvina Nissim 2006 Metonymic proper names: A corpus-based account. In: Anatol Stefanowitsch and Stefan Th. Gries (eds.), Corpus-Based Approaches to Metaphor and Metonymy, 152–174. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Online 2000– http://dictionary.oed.com Panther, Klaus-Uwe and Linda Thornburg 2007 Metonymy. In: Hubert Cuyckens and Dirk Geeraerts (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, 236–263. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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Peirsman, Yves and Dirk Geeraerts Metonymy as a prototypical category. Cognitive Linguistics 17(3): 269–316. 2006 Radden, Günther 2002 How metonymic are metaphors? In: René Dirven and Ralf Pörings (eds.), Metaphor and Metonymy in Comparison and Contrast, 407–434. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Radden, Günther and Zoltán Kövecses 1999 Towards a theory of metonymy. In: Klaus-Uwe Panther and Günther Radden (eds.), Metonymy in language and thought, 17–60. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Riemer, Nick 2002 When is a metonymy no longer a metonymy? In: René Dirven and Ralf Pörings (eds.), Metaphor and Metonymy in Comparison and Contrast, 379–406. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Taylor, John R. 2002 Category extension by metonymy and metaphor. In: René Dirven and Ralf Pörings (eds.), Metaphor and Metonymy in Comparison and Contrast, 323–347. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Tissari, Heli LOVEscapes: Changes in Prototypical Senses and Cognitive Metaphors 2003 since 1500. Helsinki: Société Néophilologique. Tissari, Heli 2005 love in words: Experience and conceptualization in the modern English lexicon of love. In: Nicole Delbecque, Johan van der Auwera and Dirk Geeraerts (eds.), Perspectives on Variation: Sociolinguistic, Historical, Comparative, 143–176. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Traugott, Elizabeth and Richard B. Dasher 2005 Regularity in Semantic Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ullmann, Stephen 1957 The Principles of Semantics, 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell.

Appendix: Abridged OED entries The following entries from the OED Online are abridged: only senses relevant to the study have been included, and information on pronunciation, spelling variation and etymology has been omitted, along with supporting quotations. The date ranges supplied (on the basis of quotation dates) give the earliest and latest OED attestations, with a dash indicating continuing use (–) and a plus sign (+) indicating a gap in the record of 150 years or more. Senses which are attested later than 1870 are marked as current (>)11. 11

However, it is not suggested that this is always a reliable criterion for current usage; there are a small number of senses that clearly survive into Present-Day use but have earlier final attestations, e. g. glasses ‘spectacles’ (glass 10d).

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1 BRONZE n 1. a. A brown-coloured alloy of copper and tin, sometimes also containing a little zinc and lead. Formerly included under the term BRASS, q. v.; the name bronze was introduced for the material of ancient works of art, or perhaps rather for the works of art themselves: see sense 2. [1617] + 1739 > 2. (with pl.) A work of art, as a statue, etc., executed in bronze. a1721 > 4. (More fully bronze powder: see 7): A metallic powder (usually brass, copper, or tin) used in painting, printing, and the like. 1753 >

2 CHALK n 2. An opaque white soft earthy limestone, which exists in deposits of vast extent and thickness in the south-east of England, and forms high cliffs along the sea-shore. 956 + c1400 > 3. a. Applied to other earths resembling chalk. b. spec. Applied to various coloured preparations resembling chalk in texture, and used like it in the form of crayons for drawing. 1481-90 + c1790 >

3 COPPER n I. 1. a. One of the well-known metals, distinguished by its peculiar red colour; it is malleable, ductile, and very tenacious, and is found native as well as in many ores. c1000 – c1050 + c1386 > 2. a. Copper money; with a and pl. (colloq.), a copper coin; a penny or halfpenny; a cent of the United States. Still used of the bronze which has superseded the copper coinage. [1588] + 1712 > b. U. S. In Faro, orig. a copper coin used to ‘copper’ with (COPPER v.1 2); hence, a small disk, token or check, now used for the same purpose. 1892 > 3. a. A vessel made of copper, particularly a large boiler for cooking or laundry purposes, originally made of copper, but now more often of iron; in pl., esp. the large boilers or cooking vessels on board ship. 1667 > b. A copper mug or vessel for liquor. 1749 – 1809-12 4. a. A plate of copper on which a design is engraved or etched. Cf. COPPER-PLATE. 1668 > b. A ceremonial copper sheet like a shield made and used by N. Amer. Indians. [1814] + 1888 > 5. A copper implement like a cotton reel or bobbin hollow and open at the ends, used by gold and silver wire-drawers in annealing: it is also borne by the Company in their armorial ensign. 1828 > 6. The copper sheathing of a vessel. rare. 1836


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4 GLASS n I. As a substance. 1. A substance, in its ordinary forms transparent, lustrous, hard, and brittle, produced by fusing sand (silica) with soda or potash (or both), usually with the addition of one or more other ingredients, esp. lime, alumina, lead oxide. c888 > 3. a. The substance considered as made into articles of use or ornament (for which see II). Hence as collect. sing. = things made of glass: e. g. vessels or ornaments of glass, window-panes or lights. 1625 + 1833 – 1855 b. esp. as used in horticulture for greenhouses, frames. etc. Hence, greenhouses, etc., collectively. 1838 > II. Something made of glass. 4. a. A glass vessel or receptacle. Also, the contents of the vessel. The specific application as in 5 is now so predominant that the word is now commonly applied only to vessels more or less resembling a drinking glass; a glass bottle or jar, for instance, is no longer called ‘a glass’. But the wider use survives in the collective pl. a1225 > b. = musical glasses (see MUSICAL). 1762 5. spec. A drinking-vessel made of glass; hence, the liquor contained, and fig. drink. 1392-3 – 1847 6. a. A SAND-GLASS for the measurement of time; esp. an HOUR-GLASS, and Naut. the half-hour glass, the half-minute and quarter-minute glasses. [1515] + 1557 > 7. A pane of glass, esp. the window of a coach, etc.; the plate of glass covering a picture; a glazed frame or case (e. g. for the protection of plants). 1439 – 1833 8. a. A glass mirror, a LOOKING-GLASS. c1300 > b. applied to a mirror of other material. 1530 – 1615 + 1861 e. A magic mirror, a crystal, etc., used in magic art. Also glass of skill. c1566 – 1605 9. a. A piece of glass shaped for a special purpose, e. g. one of the glasses of a pair of spectacles, a lens, a watch-glass. 1545 > b. A burning-glass. a1631 – 1670 10. An optical instrument used as an aid to sight. a. gen. 1700 – 1847 b. A telescope or other instrument for distant vision. More explicitly SPY-GLASS, FIELD-GLASS, OPERA-GLASS, etc. 1613-16 > c. A microscope. More explicitly magnifying-glass. 1646 > d. An EYE-GLASS; also in pl. spectacles. 1660 – 1866 12. a. A WEATHER-GLASS, a barometer. 1688 – 1867 b. A thermometer. 1775

5 HAIR n I. 1. a. One of the numerous fine and generally cylindrical filaments that grow from the skin or integument of animals, esp. of most mammals, of which they form the characteristic coat; applied also to similar-looking filamentous outgrowths from the body of insects and other invertebrates, although these are generally of different structure. a800 – c1000 + a1225 >

Tracing metonymic polysemy through time


2. collect. a. The aggregate of hairs growing on the skin of an animal: spec. that growing naturally upon the human head; also, hairs collectively or in the mass, as used for manufacturing purposes and the like. c1000 + c1200 > 7. A cloth, mat, or other fabric of hair used for various purposes in some trades, e. g. in hop-drying, extraction of oils, etc.; a haircloth. [Historically, the same word as HAIRE, which, in losing the final e, has become identical in form with this.] 1485 – 1594 + 1848 >

6 IRON n 1. a. A metal, the most abundant and useful of those used in the metallic state; very variously employed for tools, implements, machinery, constructions, and in many other applications. a700 > [NB other quotations supplied for various spelling forms] 4. a. An instrument, appliance, tool, utensil, or particular part of one, made of the metal. (Often with defining word prefixed, as CURLING-IRON, GRAPPLING-IRON, etc.: see these words.) a700 – c1000 + 1297 > b. esp. An iron instrument used for branding or cauterizing; a brand-iron. c1380 – 1613 + 1856 c. pl. Dies used in striking coins. Obs. 1483 – 1848 d. Whaling, etc. A harpoon. (= HARPING-IRON.) 1674 – 1853 e. Golf. A golf-club having an iron head which is more or less laid back in order to loft the ball: see quot. 1890. 1857 > f. slang. A portable fire-arm; a pistol. 1836 > g. slang. Money. Cf. IRON-MAN 1c and d. 1785 > h. pl. Iron supports to correct bow-legs, etc. 1838 > i. (Usu. in pl.) A stirrup. Cf. STIRRUP-IRON 1. 1894 > j. pl. Eating utensils. dial. and slang. 1905 > k. slang. An old motor vehicle. 1935 > l. Used as a form of currency in Sierra Leone. 1936 > m. slang. A jemmy used in housebreaking. 1941 > 5. esp. An implement of iron used when heated to smooth out linen, to press down the seams of cloth, etc.; defined according to shape and structure, as BOX-IRON, FLATIRON, ITALIAN-IRON, etc. In recent use: an electric iron (see ELECTRIC a. 2b). 1613 – 1840 6.  a. An iron weapon; a sword. Obs.  b. Used (without an and pl.) in various allusive expressions referring to warfare or slaughter. Cf. F. fer. c1000 + 1300 – 1665 + 1871 > 7. a. An iron shackle or fetter; usually in pl. Most freq. in phr. in irons, said of a person having the feet or hands fettered. Formerly also, less definitely, in iron, in bonds, in captivity. Cf. F. fers. c825 – a1000 + 1340 >

7 LEAD n I. 1. a. The heaviest of the base metals, of a dull pale bluish-gray colour, fusible at a low temperature, and very useful from its softness and malleability. Chemical symbol Pb. c900 + c1205 >


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3. Short for BLACK LEAD n., graphite, or plumbago. Only with reference to its use as a material for pencils. Hence, a small stick of graphite for filling an ‘ever-pointed’ pencil. 1816 > 4. a. The metal regarded as fashioned into some object, e. g. a seal, the plummet of a plumb-line, a pipe or conduit, a leaden coffin, a bullet, the leaden part of anything. (cold) lead, bullets. 1340 – c1380 + 1596 > b. A plate of lead. Obs. 1523 5. a. A large pot, cauldron, or kettle; a large open vessel used in brewing and various other operations. (Originally, one made of lead, but early used without reference to the material.) Now only dial .a1100 + c1250 – 1639 + 1869 b. dial. A leaden milk-pan. 1750 > 6. a. A ‘bob’ or lump of lead suspended by a string to ascertain the depth of water; a sounding-lead. Also, the leaden sinker of a net. c1440 – 1860 7. pl. a. The sheets or strips of lead used to cover a roof; often collect. for a lead flat, a lead roof, occas. construed as sing. 1578-9 > b. The lead frames of the panes in lattice or stained glass windows. 1705 > 8. Printing. A thin strip of type-metal or brass, less than type-high, of varying thickness and length, used in type-composition to separate lines; before 1800 known as space-line. 1808 > 9. In the knitting-machine: The lead or tin socket holding the shanks of one or more needles. 1839

8 LEATHER n 1. a. Skin prepared for use by tanning, or some similar process. a1225 > 2. a. An article or appliance made of leather, e. g. a strap, a thong; a piece of leather for a plaster or to tighten a tap; the leathern portion of a bellows, or of a pump-sucker; a stirrup-leather. upper leather: see UPPER. c1400 > b. pl. Articles for wear made of leather, e. g. shoes, slippers, leggings, breeches. Also sing., a leather jacket or coat. 1837 > c. Cricket and Football. The ball. 1868 > e. slang. Various articles made of, or clad in, leather, such as (a) a wallet or purse; (b) a leather-shod foot; hence a kick; (c) a boxing-glove; hence a punch or boxing. 1883 >

9 MARBLE n A. n. I. Senses relating to the stone. 1. a. Limestone that has been recrystallized by metamorphism and is capable of taking a polish; esp. one that is pure white or has a mottled surface, such as is often used in sculpture and architecture. Also more generally: any stone that will take a polish and can be used for decorative purposes in building or sculpture. c1150 > 2. a. A piece, block, or slab of marble; a marble monument, statue, or sculpture; a marble vessel (obs.). c1300 > b. In pl. Archaeol. A collection of sculptures made of marble. [1624 – 1676] + a1684 >

Tracing metonymic polysemy through time


3. As a count noun: a tomb or tombstone made of marble. Also as a mass noun (poet.): marble as being the material of which a tomb or tombstone is made. Obs. ?a1400 – 1850 6. Specialized uses. [Chiefly after spec. uses of French marbre (1642 of a marble slab upon which paints are ground, although only 1765 of a slab on which blown glass is shaped; 1522 of a printer’s imposing-stone).] a. A slab of marble on which something can be worked; esp. one on which paints are ground, or on which blown glass is shaped (cf. MARVER n.). Obs. 1671 – 1745 b. A printer’s imposing-stone. Obs. 1875 > III. A little ball. 11. a. A little ball made originally of marble and now usually of glass, porcelain, baked clay, etc., used in a children’s game; (in pl.) the game itself. Occas.: a similar ball (for example of glass) used in other games. Also (in extended use): any object of similar size and shape. 1681 >

10 METAL n A. n. I. Senses relating to metallic substances. 1. a. Usually as a mass noun. Hard, shiny, malleable material of the kind originally represented by gold, silver, copper, etc. (see sense 1b), esp. as used in the manufacture of objects, artefacts, and utensils. c1230 > 2. An object made of metal.  a. A weapon, arms, or armour made of metal. Obs. c1400 – c1450 + a1616 – 1663 b. A medal; a coin. Cf. metallic history s. v. METALLIC a. 7. Obs. 1485 – 1650 c. A metal mirror of an astronomical reflecting telescope. Obs. 1693 – 1777 d. In pl. The rails of a railway or tramway. 1841 > e. Electr. A conducting part of an early electric lamp. Obs. 1881 a. The metal forming the barrel of a gun; line of metal, a gunner’s line 4. Gunnery. of sight (see quot. 1859). Obs. 1591 – 1859 b. The guns or firepower of a warship, etc. Chiefly in weight of metal. Also fig. heavy metal: see HEAVY a.1 6. 1751 >

11 NYLON n A. n. I. Simple uses. 1. Any of various synthetic thermoplastic polymers with a straight-chain polyamide structure, many of which are tough, lightweight, and resistant to heat and chemicals, may be produced as filaments, sheets, or moulded objects, and are widely used for textile fabrics and industrially; esp. (more fully nylon 66) that made from adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine (each of which contains six carbon atoms). 1938 > 2. Fabric made from nylon yarn. 1940 > 3. In pl. Stockings or tights made of nylon. 1940 >

12 PAPER n I. Senses relating to the material. 1. a. Material in the form of thin, flexible sheets used for writing, printing, or drawing on, or for wrapping, covering, etc., usually


Kathryn Allan

made from wood pulp which is dried, pressed, and (generally) bleached. Formerly (and still occasionally) also made from rags or other fibrous matter. 1341-2 > 3. a. A piece of paper serving as a wrapper or receptacle, often including the contents; a paper container of some commodity; spec. a dose or measure of a drug, esp. a narcotic, contained in a paper wrapper. 1488 > b. A sheet or leaf of paper, esp. for writing on. Now chiefly in technical use. 1548 > c. Entomol. A triangular envelope made of folded paper for storing an insect specimen, esp. a butterfly. 1894 > 4. In pl. Curl-papers (see CURL-PAPER n.). Now rare. 1685 > 5. Wallpaper; a sheet of wallpaper. [1665] + 1750 > 6. Short for cigarette paper n. at CIGARETTE n. Compounds. [1904] + a1911 > II. Paper bearing writing, illustrations, etc. 7. a. A piece, sheet, or leaf of paper bearing writing or printing; esp. a legal or official document written or printed on paper. In pl.: written notes, memoranda, letters, official documents, etc. [1364-5] + 1389 > b. Paper bearing writing; written documents collectively. In some uses, not easily distinguished from sense A. 1a. c1390 – c1400 + 1728 > 8. A notice fastened on the back of a criminal undergoing punishment, specifying his or her offence. Obs. a1529 – 1688 9. In pl. State papers. Freq. in the titles of officers or departments concerned with the conservation of state papers, as Office of His (also Her) Majesty’s Papers, Clerk (also Keeper, Register) of the Papers, etc. 1612 > 10. A newspaper or journal. Also in pl., with the: newspapers collectively; the press. 1642 > 12. In pl. a. The documents carried by a ship indicating ownership, nationality, destination, etc. (more fully ship’s papers); (also) documents attesting the identity or credentials of a person, esp. as required for travel or employment. 1685-8 > b. The certificates which accompany a military officer’s application for permission to resign. Chiefly in to send in one’s papers: to resign. 1872 > c. Documents establishing the pedigree of an animal, esp. a dog or horse. 1940 > 13. a. Negotiable documents, bills of exchange, promissory notes, etc., collectively; banknotes as opposed to coins. commercial paper: see COMMERCIAL adj. and n. Compounds. 1704 > b. slang (chiefly U. S.). A forged or worthless cheque; a forged document. 1850 > 14. Theatre slang. Free tickets or passes to a theatrical performance; the people admitted by free tickets or passes. As a count noun: such a ticket or pass. Cf. PAPER v. 4. 1785 > 15. A printed set of questions to be answered at one sitting in an examination; a candidate’s collection of written answers to such questions. 1835 > 16. U. S. slang. a. As a count noun: a playing card. 1842 > b. As a mass noun: marked playing cards. 1894 > 17. U. S. colloq. Posters or similar publicity material collectively. Now rare. 1896 >

13 PLASTIC n 3. a. A solid substance that is easily moulded or shaped. Also fig. 1803 >

Tracing metonymic polysemy through time


b. Any of a large and varied class of materials used widely in manufacturing, which are organic polymers of high molecular weight based on synthetic materials, and may be moulded, extruded, or cast when they are soft or liquid, and then set into a rigid or slightly elastic form. Also as a mass noun: material of this kind. 1909 > 4. colloq. a. The material of which records are made, vinyl; (hence) vinyl records collectively. Cf. VINYL n. 2c. Originally and freq. in on plastic: in the form of a record, as a recording. 1969 > b. A credit card, debit card, or similar; such cards collectively. Cf. plastic money n. 1975 >

14 RUBBER n III. Ellipt. for INDIA-RUBBER. 11. a. Caoutchouc. Now also applied to any of a large range of synthetic organic polymers having properties of elasticity, etc., resembling those of natural rubber. 1855 > b. pl. (a) Overshoes or galoshes made of indiarubber (orig. U. S.); (b) plimsolls, esp. plimsolls worn for climbing. 1842 > c. A rubber tyre for a wheel. Also collect., the tyres of a vehicle… Chiefly U. S. 1882 > d. A piece of rubber for erasing pencil or ink marks. Also used of erasers made of other substances. 1788-9 > e. U. S. Baseball. (a) The home plate; (b) the pitcher’s plate (now the usual sense). 1891 > f. slang. A contraceptive sheath made of rubber; a condom. Cf. rubber goods, shop below. 1947 >

15 SILK n I. 1. a. The strong, soft, lustrous fibre produced by the larvæ of certain bombycine moths which feed upon mulberry leaves, etc., and by certain spiders; silken thread or filament. c888 – c1000 + c1300 > 2. a. The cloth or textile fabric woven or made from this. c1000 + c1275 > c. As the material of a jockey’s jacket. Esp. in phr. to sport, don, or wear silk: to ride (in a race). 1884 > d. A parachute; chiefly in phr. to take to or hit the silk, to bale out of an aircraft by parachute. U. S. Air Force slang. 1933 > 3. a. With a and pl. A particular make of silk cloth or fabric. 1538 > b. pl. Garments made of silk; silk stockings; spec. a jockey’s cap and jacket carrying the horse-owner’s colours. Cf. sense 2c above. 1508 > c. A lady’s silk dress. 1793 > e. A silk hat. 1906 >

16 STEEL n I. 1. a. A general name for certain artificially produced varieties of iron, distinguished from those known as ‘iron’ by certain physical properties, esp. greater hard-


Kathryn Allan

ness and elasticity, which render them suitable as material for cutting instruments, and for various other industrial purposes. c725 – c825 + c1205 > 3. a. Steel in the form of weapons or cutting tools (occas. spurs, a trap, etc.). Hence in particularized use, a sword, lance, bayonet, or the like. a1000 + c1205 – c1250 + 1581 > 4. Steel as the material of defensive armour. c1320 – 1842 5. As a material for plates engraved with drawings or designs to be reproduced by printing. Hence, as a trade term: A steel engraving. 1843 > 7. The steel part of anything. c1450 – 1561 + 1816 > 8. As the name of various instruments made of steel. a. A piece of steel shaped for the purpose of striking fire with a flint. In a pistol or firelock, the piece of steel which is struck by the ‘cock’ carrying the flint. c1220 + 1589 > b. A rod of steel, fluted or plain, fitted with a handle, used for sharpening table or butchers’ knives. 1541 > c. A steel mirror. Obs. (? nonce-use.) a1643 d. A flat-iron. Obs. exc. dial. 1638 + 1873 > e. A needle; a knitting-needle. dial. [1784] + 1839 > f. A stylet, a stylus. Obs. 1799 g. the steels = skates. 1875 > 9. Dress. a. A strip of steel used to give stiffness or support, or to expand a dress. 1608 + 1885 > b. A dress trimming made of steel beads or ornaments. 1899 >

17 STONE n 1. a. A piece of rock or hard mineral substance (other than metal) of a small or moderate size. c888 + c1175 > 2. a. The hard compact material of which stones and rocks consist; hard mineral substance other than metal.__1154 > f. A mirror. Obs. rare 1. Cf. specular stone, SPECULAR a. 1, 1b. 1605 5. A piece of stone of a definite form and size (usually artificially shaped), used for some special purpose. (Often as the second element of a compound: cf. definitions below.) a. for building, or as a part or element of a building. (See also COPING-STONE, CORNER-STONE, FOUNDATION-stone, etc.) c825 + c1200 + c1400 – 1867 b. for paving. (See also HEARTHSTONE, PAVING-STONE, etc.) 1427-8 + 1612 > c. A block, slab, or pillar of stone set up as a memorial, to impart information, or for some ceremonial purpose: e. g. as an altar, a monument, a boundary-mark, etc. See also HOAR-STONE 2, MILESTONE, SHIRE-stone, STANDING STONE. 847 + c1205 – 1831 d. spec. = GRAVESTONE 2, TOMBSTONE. c1300 > e. As an object of idolatrous worship; chiefly pl. in conjunction with stocks: see STOCK n. 1d. c1400 f. A gun-flint. Obs. 1611 g. A rounded stone or pebble formerly used as a missile in war, being thrown with the hand, discharged from a sling, or shot from a fire-arm (cf. GUNSTONE) c1205 >

Tracing metonymic polysemy through time


h. A shaped piece of stone for grinding or sharpening something, as a GRINDSTONE, MILLSTONE, WHETSTONE. 1578 – 1599 + 1751 > i. A flat slab or tablet for grinding something upon, or for smoothing or flattening something (see also FLATTENING-stone, SLEEKSTONE, etc.); in Printing = IMPOSING-stone; also a slab of stone for lithography (see 2b). c1400 > j. A heavy stone used in athletic sports. Phrases, to cast, put, or throw the stone: see also PUT v.1 2, v.2 2. c1300 + 1518 – 1638 + 1816 > 6. A vessel of stone, or of stoneware; a stone jar, cistern, etc. Obs. (Cf. STEAN.) c1450 – 1470-85 + a1722

18 VINYL n 2. a. = POLYVINYL b. Freq. attrib. 1939 > c. As the material of which gramophone records are made (so piece of vinyl). Also, a record. colloq. 1976 >

19 WOOD n 1. a. A tree. Obs. c725 – a1000 + c1220 + [1526] b. transf. applied to objects made from trees or their branches, e. g. a ship (in OE. freq.), a spear, the Cross. (Cf. TREE n. 3-6.) Obs. In mod.arch. use associated with sense 7. a1000 + a1400-50 + 1866 II. 6. a. The substance of which the roots, trunks, and branches of trees or shrubs consist; trunks or other parts of trees collectively (whether growing or cut down ready for use). Also with qualification, as BRUSHWOOD 1, TALWOOD; small wood, young wood. c897 – a1000 + c1205 + c1400 – 1855 b. as prepared for and used in arts and crafts. a1300 + 1551-2 – 1852 c. as used for fuel; FIREWOOD. Occas. collect. sing. faggots; locally, small coal (quot. 1805). c888 + a1225 – 1639 + 1805 – 1808 e. As the material of an idol or image. (Biblical.) 1535 – 1682 + 1819 7. Something made of wood: spec. a. The wooden part of something, as the shaft of a spear. 1683 – 1697 b. A block of wood used for engraving or printing, as distinguished from a metal plate or type. 1839 – 1856 c. The cask or barrel as a receptacle for liquor, as distinguished from the bottle. 1822 > d. slang. The pulpit. 1854 > e. The wooden wind-instruments in an orchestra collectively (also called the woodwind: see 10 below). 1879 > f. Each of the bowls in the game of bowls. 1884 > g. A golf club with a wooden head; a shot made with such a club (more commonly wood shot). 1915 > h. The wooden frame or handle of a racquet, with reference to a shot in which these parts are accidentally used instead of the strings. 1955 > I.


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20 WOOL n 1. a. The fine soft curly hair forming the fleecy coat of the domesticated sheep (and similar animals), characterized by its property of felting (due to the imbricated surface of the filaments) and used chiefly in a prepared state for making cloth; freq., the material in a prepared state as a commodity. c725 > b. The fleece or complete woolly covering of a sheep, etc.; out of the wool, shorn. c1400 – 1572 + 1841 3. a. Woollen clothing or material; a woollen garment. Sc. phr. amang the woo’, in the blankets. a1300 + 1534 – a1625 + 1818>

The roles of reader construal and lexicographic authority in the interpretation of Middle English texts Louise Sylvester

Abstract The cognitive turn in linguistics suggests a need to address the ways in which meaning in language is created and understood. This paper examines a vital aspect of this question: the nature of the interaction between the semantic information offered in dictionaries and individualistic construals of meaning made by readers of the literature of early periods of the language. Central to a cognitive paradigm of linguistic understanding is the assumption of a relationship between meaning and encyclopaedic knowledge; in conceptual understanding, entities are profiled against domain-based knowledge. A number of basic domains have been posited (Langacker 1987), and the notion has recently been extended to encompass cultural universals (Talmy 2000). These ideas of basic domains argue for a collective experience that involves a shared conception of the ways in which experience is conceptualized and encoded in language. It has been argued that this also applies to our understanding of the language of literature (Gavins and Steen 2003). Writing on cognitive poetics, Stockwell notes that the initial interpretations that form part of the reading process can be simply wrong, consisting of mistakes, errors and miscues that are demonstrably not supported by textual evidence. Fully-fledged readings, however, are the result of arriving at a sense of the text that is personally acceptable, and they are likely to combine individual factors as well as features that are common to the reader’s interpretative community (2002: 7–8). Cognitive semantics is said to have rehabilitated the epistemological role of the individual subject against that of the linguistic code; because cognitive semantics can demonstrate that linguistic meaning is experientially grounded, the construction of meaningfulness seems to depend on individual factors rather than on the structure of the language as an abstract, supraindividual entity (Geeraerts 1993: 73). It has been argued, however, that one limitation of cognitive semantics is that it focuses on individuals’ meanings of words to the exclusion of social aspects of language that should also be accounted for within a cognitive programme. This argument raises the question of linguistic power: who decides on what is the “correct meaning” of an expression in society. A dictatorial power structure is said to arise when the social meanings of words are determined by a group of linguistic experts writing dictionaries, encyclopaedias, etc. (Gårdenfors 1999). These ideas illustrate a conflict in our understanding of how meaning is generated. This paper examines these questions with reference to readers’ construals of texts in Middle English, which may be said to be diachronic and dynamic, and the role played


Louise Sylvester

by the historical dictionary which, despite occasional revisions, is generally perceived as static in its content and approach to the language. If texts are the raw materials from which the historical dictionary is constructed, does the dictionary then become the authority which constructs the meanings of texts? This question addresses the central concern of this paper, the nature of the negotiation between the individual construal of meaning and the authority represented by the historical dictionary.

1. Introduction In July 2004 a panel was convened at the New Chaucer Society congress to celebrate the completion of the Middle English Dictionary and consider the implications of this monumental lexicographical work for the study of Chaucer’s language. The relationship of author and dictionary implied by the panel’s proposer elided the third participant in the activity of lexical and textual interpretation: the reader. In this paper I explore the processes that take place when the reader of a text in Middle English encounters a lexical item, the sense of which is entirely or partially unknown, and begins to construct an idea of the meaning of the term. This tentatively constructed meaning may then be challenged by the discovery that it differs from the definitions encountered in the dictionary. Consideration of this reading process led me to think about the construction and interpretation of lexical meaning. Readers use dictionaries ostensibly to discover the meaning of unfamiliar lexemes. More often, I suspect, they are in fact checking the dictionary’s definition against a readerly hunch about a word’s meaning.1 This process is an essential part of reading and interpreting Middle English texts. A number of approaches have been taken to the question of how individual senses of lexemes are arrived at and how textual meanings are made out of that understanding in a variety of disciplinary areas. These include lexicology, theories of reading, cognitive linguistic investigations of the conceptual struc-


Frank Smith examines what happens when readers, especially beginners, encounter a word they do not recognize on sight. He observes that usually three alternative courses of action are specified, with a very definite order of preference. The first alternative is to skip over the puzzling word. The second alternative is to guess what the unknown word might be. And the final, and least preferred, alternative is to sound the word out. Smith notes that the identification of every word is not necessary for comprehension to take place. On the contrary, stopping to try and figure out every unfamiliar word the moment it is encountered serves only to produce tunnel vision, overloading short-term memory. Comprehension is bound to be lost in such circumstances and learning becomes impossible (1985: 64–65).

The roles of reader in the interpretation of Middle English texts


tures underlying the mental lexicon, and considerations of meaning at the level of the text most usually found in literary criticism and literary theory. This raises the question of whether it is possible to offer a principled investigation relating to lexical meaning and the processes of reading; a question which is haunted by the notion that individual construal of meaning is untrammelled and unconstrained. Those arguing that readerly construal plays a part in the construction of textual meaning are clear, however, that this is not the case. They contend that constraints on individual interpretations are many; they vary in strength; and they may reinforce one another or cancel one another out. These constraints may be overcome by cognitive effort, but the stronger the constraint, the greater the cognitive effort required to impose a construal that defies the constraint (Croft and Cruse 2004: 101). William Croft and D. Alan Cruse propose that words and sentences do not really have meanings: meanings are something that we construe using the properties of linguistic elements as partial clues, alongside non-linguistic knowledge, information available from context, knowledge and conjectures regarding the state of mind of hearers (Croft and Cruse 2004: 98). This approach encompasses the “soft” properties of meaning. Construals of meaning are constrained by the “hard” properties of meaning which include sense relations such as hyponymy, and the existence of structured semantic fields. One of the main aims of the dynamic construal approach to word meaning is to achieve a unified account of both hard and soft aspects of word meaning, both flexibility and rigidity, and to locate the origins of what are, at first sight, contradictory properties (Croft and Cruse 2004: 105). This paper investigates the relationships between lexical meaning and the processes of reading drawing on data from the Middle English romances Sir Degrevant, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Troilus and Criseyde, and from the Oxford English Dictionary and the Middle English Dictionary, the historical dictionaries most likely to be used by a reader in quest of a full understanding of a term in Middle English.

2. The role of construal 2.1. Individual construal in cognitive linguistics In seeking to determine how much (if any) weight should be given to individualistic interpretations of lexical items encountered in Middle English texts, we may turn first to cognitive linguistics since it is an approach to language that includes individual construal as a primary object of investigation. One difficulty in trying to make use of research within this framework is that discussions


Louise Sylvester

in the literature on cognitive semantics are generally more concerned with understanding in real-world contexts than they are with the problems of the interpretation of literary texts.2 Psychological studies which build on the findings of Eleanor Rosch and her collaborators are similarly concerned with their subjects’ classifications of prototypes and marginal examples of familiar categories such as furniture, tools, vegetables or clothing (see, for example, Gatewood 1984; Kempton 1981; Rosch et al. 1976; Wierzbicka 1984). As George Miller and Christiane Fellbaum observe, most of the psycholinguistic research on the lexicon has been conducted on relatively small samples of words, often concentrating on nouns that denote concrete objects (1992: 198). Cognitive linguists tell us that the experience of the external world and the articulation of that experience in language are mediated by the way the mind understands the world, as encoded in mental representations. This theory is not concerned with reference in the standard sense; rather, the corresponding construct is the mind’s construal of the world (Jackendoff 1992: 12). Cognitive linguistics thus asserts that, contrary to the traditional view in which the role of language is to map elements of the external world onto linguistic forms, a particular situation can be construed in different ways, and different ways of encoding a situation constitute different conceptualizations (Lee 2001: 2; Taylor 1999: 31). Included within this notion of construal is the idea that meaning, particularly of complex concepts, presupposes knowledge systems (Langacker 1987: 184–185). It is to these knowledge systems, therefore, that we must look when considering the understanding of lexical meaning. At the same time, we must take into account the position, accepted within cognitive semantics, that different languages may make available to their speakers different sets of conventionalized modes of construal (Taylor 1999: 31). The cognitive linguistic account of how readers understand texts indicates that understanding is a product of both the text and the prior knowledge and viewpoint that the reader brings to it. This allows the possibility of difference in comprehension between individuals or between groups as a result of differences in prior experience. Pragmatics has shown us how far even the most mundane communication requires the hearer to make inferences that go beyond the semantic meaning of the information given, and these insights may be mapped on to readers’ experiences of comprehending meanings in texts. Mary Crawford and Roger Chappin delineate this process, observing that initially, individual concepts that are directly mentioned in a text are endowed with detailed properties that are 2

For example, one study focused on how semantic relations are represented in the memory investigates how quickly subjects are able to confirm that a robin is a bird (Rips, Shoben and Smith 1973: 1).

The roles of reader in the interpretation of Middle English texts


consistent with the context but that were not explicitly mentioned. In the next stage, information not explicitly mentioned is inferred as part of the process of understanding even at the level of individual sentences. Finally, information necessary to interrelate parts of the text is inferred (1986: 8). Since understanding is the product of both the text and readers’ prior knowledge, readers with different backgrounds understand texts differently. It is a basic tenet of developmental psychology that in real-world understanding, people mentally group objects together, treating them as instances of a category instead of as unique individuals (Markman 1981: 199). This is the kind of prior knowledge and viewpoint that readers bring to texts which enables them to understand the words they read. We are still left with questions about the relationship of that prior knowledge to the interpretation of vocabulary and of texts. Presumably, we understand the vocabulary of a text in relation to our understanding of the categories of the real world and of the English language both now and at a specific period, and also in relation to a specific and individual understanding of the usages of a particular writer. The difficulty lies in evaluating the roles played by these different elements in readers’ interpretations of texts. It is equally difficult to evaluate the role played by the evidence of lexical meaning provided by dictionaries in the formation of textual interpretations. It has been suggested that the dominant theoretical perspectives on reading instruction and research, the different discourse communities of reading theory and education, have not adequately re-theorized the reader as a social subject and the text as a social production. Instead, they have fallen back either on an objectivist model that privileges, or gives priority to, the text by assuming that it is the sole source of meaning; or, at the other extreme, have embraced a subjective or expressivist model which privileges the reader’s personal response (McCormick 1994: 4). These twin poles offer a reflection of the question discussed here; that is, how far readers are free to make interpretations out of the background knowledge, at all levels, that they bring to their encounters with Middle English lexical items and texts and, even more crucially, how much of that initial readerly interpretation remains, or interferes with, second-stage interpretations which take into account information about the sense(s) of lexical items that is gained from dictionaries.

2.2. Individual construal and the language of literature Describing the cognitive poetic approach to the language of literature in his textbook Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction, Peter Stockwell argues for a distinction between the terms “reading” and “interpretation”. Interpretation, he


Louise Sylvester

suggests, is what readers do as soon as (perhaps even partly before) they begin to move through a text. Stockwell concludes that in contrast to interpretations, readings are the process of arriving at a sense of the text that is personally acceptable. He adds that readings are likely to combine individual factors with features that are common to the reader’s interpretative community (2002: 7–8). This suggestion argues for the inclusion of both readerly construal of individual lexical items and scholarly accounts of word meaning derived from dictionaries in the production of readings, although it does not attempt to mediate between these elements in the event that they clash. It should be noted, too, that even readings (in Stockwell’s sense) of lexical items remain open to dispute, as is shown by the studies that Jane Roberts and I collected for Middle English Word Studies: A Word and Author Index (2000). Some readings are contested on the grounds that they are based on palaeographical misunderstanding, others suggest that words in Middle English translations or adaptations appear to have been used without reference to their senses in the source languages. Sometimes it is argued that both issues are present in contested interpretations. Earl R Anderson (1994–1995), for example, dismisses various editors’ emendations and/or interpretations of the term ostriys in Pearl, instead proposing that the term is a variant form of hostri(e) s, from Middle Latin hosteria ‘chamber’. Anderson cites Malory’s use of the word in a form close to that used in Pearl and suggests that this usage might be influenced by the Anglo-Norman loanword estre pl. estres ‘inward parts of a building; chambers; walks, passages in a garden’. Although Malory’s editor Eugène Vinaver glosses esturys ‘fish-ponds’, Anderson argues that Malory regards estury and chamber as synonymous and ostriys should be retained in Pearl and understood as ‘chamber’. Sometimes, a contested reading arises from a failure to take into account all of the real-world evidence about a term. In a discussion of the place-name Cookham, AH (1954) argues that, although the original meaning of ham is usually held to be ‘an enclosure’, it refers so often to flat land on a river, or even in the bend of a river, that ‘water-meadow’ must be one of the chief meanings of the word. In other instances, a new reading is advanced on the basis that a metaphorical understanding of the term has been overlooked: Paul Acker (1982) discusses the various meanings offered for the term Wades boot in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, considers all the traditions concerning Wade, and concludes that the phrase is likely to constitute a metaphor for the male body, arguing that in Chaucer’s context acquaintance with the male body is what distinguishes old widows from inexperienced brides. I suspect that we come across examples of clashing interpretations in our own reading all the time. Here is one that I met with recently. At the begin-

The roles of reader in the interpretation of Middle English texts


ning of the romance Sir Degrevant, one of the things that we are told about the eponymous hero is: (1)

Certes wyff wold he non, Wench ne lemon But as an anker in a ston He lyved ever trew. (lines 61–64) ‘Certainly he did not wish for a wife or a lover, but he lived ever true like an anchor in a stone.’3

The first two lines of this quotation seem clear; the third, however, is less so. Edith Rickert adds a note on this to her translation: “as true to himself as the anchor to its nature when it drops among stones?” (1908: 187). The first sense listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and current throughout the medieval period (and beyond) includes the idea of ‘An appliance for holding a ship, etc., fixed in a particular place’, a sense echoed in the meanings listed under 1. in Middle English Dictionary : (a) A ship’s anchor; (b) a weight; (c) a fastening device, a mooring. The metaphorical underpinning is thus affirmed: Degrevant is fixed (like a dropped anchor) and remains true to his solitary way of life. The term appears to be used figuratively here (though we should note Geeraerts’s observation that the definitional demarcation of metaphor is deceptively simple as long as we do not have a theory of figurativity [1990: 198]). The figurative sense, in use from 1382, is listed in Oxford English Dictionary as ‘That which gives the feeling of stability or security’. There is, however, another possible meaning for anker: ‘an anchorite’. If anker means ‘anchorite’ in this text, as Casson’s glossary to the EETS parallel text edition suggests, in a ston must mean something like ‘in a cell’, a meaning for which we have no evidence. The meaning ‘anchorite’, listed in the Middle English Dictionary as ‘A recluse or hermit’, fits the textual context which refers to Degrevant not wishing for a wife or other (female) companion. A decision may be arrived at by taking notice of the word as which appears to signal a metaphorical usage. As the sense history of the term shows, there is a long-established pattern of metaphorical use in relation to anchor. To press the sense ‘anchorite’ into service here is to state not that Degrevant lived like an anchorite but rather that he was one; that is, it appears to make use of the denotation rather than any metaphorical extension. Moreover, the development of the romance narrative and the ensuing love story would vitiate the picture of Degrevant as an honourable man if this sense were preferred. 3

Translations are my own unless specified otherwise.


Louise Sylvester

Another difficulty comes in trying to use the information supplied by dictionaries in order to understand what may be going on in a text. I was recently examining the verbs in the clauses which make up the bedroom scenes in the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I was interested in how the action in these scenes is divided between the two participants and so I was looking at the clauses which denote actions (material processes in the language of functional grammar). In the final bedroom scene, there was only one clause which seemed to encode a material process intention (that is, an action undertaken deliberately) in which Gawain was the actor: this is the process by which he refuses a ring that Lady Bertilak attempts to give him: (2)

Ho raʒt hym a riche rynk of red golde werkez, Wyth a starande ston stondande alofte Þat bere blusschande bemez as þe bryʒt sunne; Wyt ʒe wel, hit watz worth wele ful hoge. Bot þe renk hit renayed. (lines 1817–1821) ‘She offered4 him a precious ring worked of red gold with a sparkling stone set above that shone with beams like the bright sun. Know well, it was worth a great deal. But the man refused it.’

Even this one action is not self-evidently a material process. It is possible that Gawain accomplishes the rejection of the proffered ring by uttering a formula of refusal; that is, he might have done it by means of a verbal rather than a material process. Turning to the Middle English Dictionary, we find that the verb reneien is defined as having two senses: the first has to do with forsaking, renouncing, or recanting religious beliefs (orthodox or heretical), or refusing to acknowledge one’s king or master. The second, for which this moment in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight provides one of the citations, is ‘2(a) to refuse (a gift); refuse an invitation from (sb.)’. Included within the definition are also ‘(b) to forsake (an activity, a state); abandon (a place), refuse a mission to; (c) to retract (a pledge)’. There is also a figurative sense: ‘(d) to withdraw (one’s heart) from (devotion to sb.)’. With the exception of the first two senses under (b), all of these activities seem most likely to be accomplished by words or even, in the case of (d), by thoughts. The idea that Lady Bertilak gives the ring to Gawain rather than just offering it to him, however, is supported by the Middle 4

Jessie Weston translates “she reached him a ring” which seems to avoid the issue; Simon Armitage’s recent translation of the poem has “She offers him a ring” (2007: 84).

The roles of reader in the interpretation of Middle English texts


English Dictionary’s citation of the relevant line from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in illustration of sense 4(a) of the verb rechen: ‘To hand (sth. to sb.), give; grant (a kingdom or dwelling to sb.); also, give (sb. a kiss)’. Here the evidence for the meaning of a lexical item in one part of the dictionary seems to clash with the sense of another lexical item in a context in which they cooccur. The relevant Oxford English Dictionary definition, of the verb reach, however, is sense 3: ‘To hold out or offer (a thing) to a person; to give; to pass’. The editors note that the sense is also used figuratively, which is suggestive, but such usage seems unlikely to figure where the referent is a material object, such as a ring. Despite the ambiguity of the Middle English Dictionary evidence, it seems as if a readerly construal in which Lady Bertilak actually hands the ring to Gawain (a highly effective material process), instead of just offering it to him or suggesting that she would like him to have it (a less effective material process), would suggest that Lady Bertilak is more powerful in this moment than is indicated by the prototypical sense of reneien, if not, perhaps, of rechen.

3. The role of the dictionary 3.1. The assignment of meaning If we accept the idea that lexical and textual interpretations which lead to readings of texts depend in part on individual construal and in part on the consensus of an interpretative community which is likely to be made up of scholars and lexicographers, we will eventually wish to consider the question of how much weight is given to each of these elements. In his essay “Some tenets of cognitive semantics”, Peter Gårdenfors suggests that in emphasising the meaning that words have for individuals, cognitive semantics has forgotten about the social structure of language (1999: 20). Gårdenfors’s argument resembles that made for readings by Stockwell in its suggestion that senses are determined by the meanings that expressions have for individuals, together with the meanings determined by those who wield linguistic power in the community. For Gårdenfors, however, the problem posed by the presence of these two elements is the balance of power between them; that is, the question of who gets to determine what is the “correct meaning” of an expression. He posits two types of power structure: oligarchic and democratic. An oligarchic (or dictatorial) power structure arises when the meanings of words are determined by a group of linguistic experts writing dictionaries, encyclopaedias, handbooks, etc. When in doubt about the meaning of a locution that falls under the realm of the oligarchy, language users rely on the judgement of the experts. In con-


Louise Sylvester

trast, a democratic power structure allows linguistic meaning to be identified by “common usage”: a dictator or a small group of speakers cannot change the meaning of an expression, it requires the consent of almost all language users (1999: 28). The editors of Language and Sexuality (Campbell-Kibler et al. 2002) similarly link the assigning of meaning to lexical items with structures of power. They argue that words do not have much meaning; they are assigned interpretations when used, and the interpretations given to a particular word can vary from one context to another. Raising the question of how one meaning wins acceptance over the others, they suggest that the contestation of meaning is intimately linked to the contestation of ideologies. Those with meaningmaking power (for example, the media) attempt to naturalize their own ideologies about the social category that a given label denotes. Dominant ideologies that are naturalized become the literal meanings of the label (Campbell-Kibler et al. 2002: 9). There is an obvious tension here between an approach which suggests that meaning is primarily (or solely) constructed by readers, and one which argues that senses can only be decided by experts and enshrined in lexicographical resources such as dictionaries. Those working on meaning seem to position themselves unconsciously in relation to this dichotomy. In her study “Prototype theory and its implications for lexical analysis”, Adrienne Lehrer acknowledges something similar when she says that the concerns of psychologists are not necessarily the same as those of linguists. The fact that prototypical members of a category are thought of more quickly or listed by more people, for example, is not necessarily of linguistic relevance (1990: 368). Discussions of readers’ confrontations with unfamiliar lexemes often emphasise the role of guessing the meaning of the unknown term from the co-text in its immediate vicinity. In one study, the vast majority of students (89%) reported that they regularly made use of guesswork in their reading. It was also the case that 67% of students reported that their usual practice was to look up every unfamiliar vocabulary item encountered in their reading. If we assume that the figures are similar for those reading Middle English, that is, we guess a lot of the time and usually look up unfamiliar lexical items, then it would seem that rather than being inefficient guessers, in general we respond to a training that exhorts us not to trust readerly hunches. Guessing is a useful strategy, which can be taught and learned, but the author of the study is at pains to conclude that it should not replace the role of the dictionary, since it is the dictionary which is the repository of reliable definitions (Diab 1989: 77). Readers’ construals may be complicated by the layered accretions of interpretations of the medieval past and, increasingly perhaps, self-consciousness about those interpretations. This kind of thinking is generally felt to be the domain of psy-

The roles of reader in the interpretation of Middle English texts


choanalytic literary theory, as expounded in books such as Gayle Margherita’s The Romance of Origins: Language and Sexual Difference in Middle English Literature (1994), but it must be the case that our semantic understandings are also influenced by it. Expectations of meanings within particular genres may also be complicated by the after-life of that genre, and romance offers a particularly clear instance of this. My next example comes from my continued reading of the romance Sir Degrevant. When Degrevant sees Melidor (the love-interest) for the first time, we are told: (3)

In hert trewly he hyeght That he shall loue þat swet wyʒt, Acheue how hit wold. (lines 478–480) ‘In his heart he promised faithfully that he would love that sweet creature however things would turn out.’

The sense of this passage is not immediately accessible. The lines “In hert trewly he hyeght” may be read ‘In his heart he promised faithfully’. The glossary to Casson’s edition suggests ‘promise, assure’ for hyeght and so it looks as if the lines are tracking Degrevant’s thought processes in the moment of his falling in love, especially since love is mentioned in the following line. A literal translation of lines 478–79 is ‘in his heart he promised faithfully that he would love that sweet creature’.5 The difficulty comes with the last line of the stanza. Casson glosses acheue ‘terminate, result’, citing C line 480, and so the stanza seems to conclude Degrevant’s thought with something like ‘however it would end’, referring to his fight with Melidor’s father. The Oxford English Dictionary cites line 480 of Sir Degrevant to illustrate the intransitive sense of the verb achieve: ‘To come to a natural end or conclusion; to end, result, turn out’. The dictionary also shows that senses of the transitive form of achieve (for example, ‘To bring to a successful issue, to carry out successfully (an enterprize); to accomplish, perform’, ‘To succeed in gaining, to acquire by effort, to gain, win (a) an abstract property or possession (b) a material acquisition’) are in use from 1325 and 1393 respectively. It is possible that modern readers may experience interference from these other senses so that the lines suggest that Degrevant is promising himself (in line with Casson’s suggested gloss) that he will ‘make love to’ Melidor, ‘however it may be achieved’. 5

Rickert translates “he promised his own heart that he would be her servant” (1908: 115).


Louise Sylvester

The first sense of the verb love in the Oxford English Dictionary concerns the feelings of love: ‘1.a. To have or feel love towards (a person, a thing personified) (for a quality or attribute); to entertain a great affection, fondness, or regard for; to hold dear’. Immediately following this, however, is ‘1. b. To feel sexual love for (a person); to be in love with. In early use also: to fondle, caress (obs.)’. This sense continues in use until the present day and so the idea of sexual feelings appears to be a prototypical meaning for the verb love. The physical expression of those feelings is represented as central to the meaning of the term in the medieval period. The representation of the semantic space occupied by the term given in the Middle English Dictionary is very different. Senses 1–8 are concerned only with feelings of affection, with the possible exception of the clause ‘behave lovingly towards’ which appears at sense 1 (a), but the referents are a person or animal, and the clause forms part of a nexus of ideas to do with friendship and affection. The senses continue this idea in relation to God or Christ (sense 2); a friend or Jesus (sense 3); wealth, the world, a thing, place, soul, dead body, etc. or clothes, food, smells, musical instruments, etc. (sense 4), and so on. It is not until the final sense (9) that we come to (a) To love (sb. of the opposite sex), love (one’s husband, wife, mistress, etc.); also, show affection for (sb.), behave lovingly toward; also, make love to (sb.), copulate with (sb.), etc.; (b) to love (a living person); love (sb.) with sexual love; also, have sexual relations with (sb.); also fig.; have sexual relations with (sb.); (c) used without object: to be in love, make love; also, have intercourse; be mutually in love, make love together, have intercourse; have a sexual relationship together; -- used fig.; (d) to feel love; make love; (e) ppl. loving, amorous; ppl. loved, beloved; as noun: one who is loved.

This variation in the presentation of the senses of love in the two historical dictionaries offers two sharply contrasting views of how far the idea of sexual feelings and sexual expression are prototypical for the verb love in the Middle English period and therefore of how far a reading of the representation of Sir Degrevant’s thoughts as he first sees Melidor which includes such feelings is licensed.

3.2. The dictionary in use The kind of dictionary activity that I am focusing on here is solely a function of the desire to disambiguate lexical items found in Middle English texts. The first prototype of a dictionary designed for this activity was the context-dependent gloss, which was intended as an explanation of a text. The limited textbound usability of glosses changed with the advent of the second prototype in

The roles of reader in the interpretation of Middle English texts


which some of these glosses were collected together to produce longer lists of lemmata with their explanations. This resulted in a loss of context sensitivity and an increase in usability. The third prototype is the alphabetical glossary. Although we sometimes find traces of source texts in the definitions even in alphabetically arranged glosses, such dictionaries are no longer designed just to explain the source texts: the definitions are designed to be applicable to any reading process (Hüllen 1999: 103). David Burnley offers a point of view which runs counter to that which is generally heard. He observes that the simplest glossaries intended to help modern students to read medieval authors provide a small range of possible meanings for each word, leaving it to the reader to choose the most appropriate meaning for the context in which the word is puzzling. More ambitious glossaries give more meanings, perhaps with a short illustrative context and line-references to the specific senses: readers using these can be more certain that they are choosing the sense which is appropriate to the context in which they have found the word. The use of such a sophisticated glossary enables readers to choose the right sense from a range possible for a word, but Burnley thinks that, paradoxically, the simple vocabulary, by its very inadequacy, throws a heavier onus on readers, forcing them to think about the context of occurrence of the word, to recall other encounters with it, and to arrive at their own translations (1983: 201–202). The Middle English Dictionary’s early editors were not unaware of these two possibilities for their historical dictionary. Michael Adams observes that the second editor, Thomas K. Knott, was never able to resolve in his own mind (or anyone else’s) the question of whether the dictionary should serve as a repository of information about the language as language, or if it would be a fancy glossary of printed texts in Middle English (Adams 2002: 106). Hans Kurath, who oversaw the first publication, appears to come down on the side of the Middle English Dictionary being a storehouse of information about Middle English as a language variety. He was evidently aware of the possibility of its functioning as an inventory of glosses for lexical items in (presumably selected) texts, but rejects this idea as being inappropriate to a large-scale dictionary. Kurath also seems to suggest that including glosses of particular usages would cause the dictionary to give inappropriate weight to individual construals of lexical meaning which he distinguishes from separate senses: It is the purpose of a dictionary […] to identify and to document types of meanings rather than individual applications of words and phrases upon which the identification of typical applications is based. The users of the MED will know enough about the ways of language to realize that finer decimations can be made than it is profitable to introduce in a dictionary. Fine-spun distinctions, moreover, are apt to reflect personal bias or fancy rather than distinct meanings. (Kurath 1954: 3)


Louise Sylvester

Robert E. Lewis, the final editor of the completed Middle English Dictionary, is clear that the guiding editorial principle of the dictionary in the latter years of the project was to try to “capture the generality”; that is, to present what Kurath called “types of meanings”. He does not abandon the idea of the reader attempting to interpret a text, however, since he adds that the intention was that the dictionary should, at the same time, give the reader as much help as possible with difficult quotations and with subtleties of meaning (Lewis 2002: 81). The difficulty is that while historical, citation-based dictionaries like the Middle English Dictionary are made out of the interpretations of words in texts, the meanings produced are frozen in their moment of reading. Literary texts continue to be reinterpreted in every age, and reinterpretations are sometimes made in the light of new evidence about the writer or the cultural context of a text’s production. The evidence provided by dictionaries begins as an aid to understanding but may become a straitjacket that works to constrain new interpretations of texts. As Paula Treichler observes in her examination of the significations attached to the term dictionary, if a discourse is the text from which a dictionary is constructed, a dictionary becomes the text that, in turn, constructs discourse (1989: 51). I should now like to return to the reading experience outlined at the outset in which a reader, encountering an unfamiliar or entirely unknown lexical item, begins to construct an idea of the meaning of the term only to find this construction challenged by the definition offered in the dictionary. Rather than relying solely on my recollections of past reading experiences, I decided to examine this process again. I returned to the Incipit and the first 100 lines of Book II of Troilus and Criseyde, with a dictionary to hand. Of course, every textual encounter is different, and this one was more self-conscious than most. It was not, however, difficult words that gave me pause. The rarer words seem to be exclusive to the context: the meaning of a Latinism is clear, as is the intimation that it is contributing more to the style than the meaning of the text. Rather, it turned out that it was the more familiar words which caused me to wonder about sense development, collocations, metaphorical extension, etc. My queries and notes were as follows:

The roles of reader in the interpretation of Middle English texts


Table 1. Troilus and Criseyde Book II (Incipit + first 100 lines) Line reference

Glossing in the The queries that Information and answers provided Riverside Chaucer occurred to me by the Middle English Dictionary as I read

Lines 3–4 connyng: “For in this see the boot hath swych travaylle,/Of my connyng, that unneth I it steere.”

Gloss at foot of page offers the definition ‘skill’ and the gloss to the line ‘boat of my skill’

Line 14 sentement

Gloss at the foot When does this of the page: ‘Emo- definition date tion, personal from? feeling’

MED helpfully offers the following definition: ‘personal experience or involvement; personal feeling or emotion’ and cites this line from T&C. All the citations for this particular definition are 1425–1450 with possible composition dates of 1385, 1386 and 1405.

Line 17 lame

Riverside does not Like a cripple? gloss Weak? When does the metaphorical use date from? In use by contemporaries of Chaucer’s?

Offers the quotation from T&C for sense ‘(e) of language, verse, meter: halting, defective’. The quotations are all from Chaucer and Lydgate. No overarching sense is given, the definitions refer to persons being crippled or maimed and to persons or things being incapacitated; the wits may be enfeebled or the reputation damaged. Sense (f) refers to a crooked or ill-cut gore in a garment. The dictionary does not engage with the notion of a more widely available metaphorical usage.

Other meanings for this word? Other words with this meaning?

The meanings are the expected ones: ‘1. Ability or skill; competence (in a profession or other activity), mastery (of an art); 2. Knowledge, understanding, (esp. as required by observation or reasoning); information, learning, erudition; also, discernment, awareness; 3a (a) A branch of knowledge or learning, a science or art; also, science as a whole; 3b a craft; 4a (a) Ability to understand, intelligence; wisdom, prudence; (b) a mental faculty or quality; 5 Cleverness, shrewdness, cunning.’ I do not understand how to construe the meaning of this line, however, and the dictionary did not help me with this, though it is very possible that I asked the wrong question.


Louise Sylvester

Line reference

Glossing in the The queries that Information and answers provided Riverside Chaucer occurred to me by the Middle English Dictionary as I read

Line 24 nyce and straunge

No gloss at foot of page. Nyce = ‘(1) foolish; (2) scrupulous’ Straunge = ‘(1) foreign, strange, unknown, different, unusual, surprising, exotic, external, not of the family; (2) distant, reserved, unfriendly’

Is this collocation found elsewhere in Middle English?

The definitions of nice are: ‘1(a) Of persons: foolish, frivolous; ignorant; (b) of actions, words, thoughts, faces, gestures, etc.: foolish, absurd, senseless, mistaken; (c) ?wild, uncultivated; primitive. 2 (a) Sluggish, slothful; (b) faint-hearted, weak; cowardly, timid. 3 (a) Fastidious, fussy; scrupulous; (b) dainty, delicate; (c) strange, extraordinary, remarkable; (d) intricate, ingenious; of persons: clever, cunning. 4 (a) Of persons, their dress, habits, etc.: extravagant; self-indulgent; (b) of persons, actions, demeanor, etc.: wanton, dissolute, dissipated, lascivious; also, inciting to lasciviousness; (c) wicked, sinful, depraved.’ 1(c) looks as if it is influenced by Chaucer’s collocation. For (a) nyce is seen to collocate with blynde in Chaucer (presumably it is the other way round: Chaucer’s usage contributes to the meaning, but how easy it is to slip into thinking of the dictionary as the authority); in fact, both quotations for (c) are from Trevisa and refer to fig trees. This line from T&C is not cited, and the collocation nyce and straunge does not appear in any of the other citations.

Line 38 game shent Shent = ‘ruined’ Game only glossed at back: ‘(1) joy, happiness; (2) amusement; (3) joke, jest’

Which meaning fits this context (no citation from T&C II in Riverside Chaucer glossary)

MED very helpfully cites this line from T&C. The definition offered: ‘Amorous play, love-making; esp. sexual intercourse’ does not exactly match the gloss in the Riverside Chaucer.

Line 58 shotes keene

I am sure that I should know this, but shots? Shoots? Arrows?

The very full first definition in MED includes both ‘(a) A missile, such as an arrow, a dart, spear, cannon projectile, etc., also fig,’ and ‘(d) a young branch, shoot, as well as (e) a young weaned pig’. The line from T&C is cited under 1 (a).

Not glossed at foot of page or in glossary

The roles of reader in the interpretation of Middle English texts

Line reference

Glossing in the The queries that Information and answers provided Riverside Chaucer occurred to me by the Middle English Dictionary as I read

Line 129 faste

Only glossed at back: ‘(1) tightly, closely, firmly, strictly; (2) quickly; (3) close; (4) eagerly, heartily’

What is the sense development of this word? Are any of these senses just contextual glosses (check context of citations; none in Riverside Chaucer is T&C II)


Anticipating my difficulty, the MED appends a note before the definitions: “The meaning of faste is largely contextual. In many passages faste can be read as a modal adverb (i. e. with a specific meaning), as an adverb of degree, or as a mere intensive. MnE usage requires (or permits) the selection of many different adverbs for the various contexts.” Only one citation from T&C and it is from Bk III.

It is clear that with more time I would be able to discover a lot more about Chaucer’s usage from the Middle English Dictionary than these brief notes indicate. My guess was that the senses given for more unusual words would be more closely tied to their immediate context of occurrence, presumably in the same way that hapax legomena are glossed for Old English; in fact, many of the lines that I had randomly selected were cited with the Middle English Dictionary’s definitions. As readers progress through Chaucer’s texts, they acquire a lot of collateral information about the style in which the texts are written. This includes a growing familiarity with repetitions in Chaucer’s lexical choices, some of which seem particularly prominent; for example, it does not require extensive knowledge of the Chaucerian canon to spot that the phrase “pitee renneth so[o]ne in gentil herte” appears in the Merchant’s Tale (line 1986), the Squire’s Tale (line 479) and the Legend of Good Women (F line 503; G line 491). Greater familiarity with Chaucer’s writing is likely to cause readers to become sensitized to the semantic associations suggested by recurring collocations and colligations in Chaucer’s texts and to the semantic prosody of seemingly recurrent evaluations in his writing. As Hoey shows, lexical items may be primed to co-occur with other lexical items, and they may also be primed to occur in, or with, particular grammatical functions. Readers are likely to base their guesses as to the meanings of lexical items on a sense of what is natural for Middle English, perhaps specifically for Chaucer’s variety of Middle English, and that sense of naturalness arises from a sensitivity to lexical priming likely to be unconscious but quite strong for experienced readers of the variety. It seems that readers acquire knowledge of the prototypical structures of the meanings of words, but less through the examination of dictionary entries, as I have done here, than through repeated and frequent encounters with them in


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a variety of contexts within the work of a single author and within the wider corpus of a particular language variety. It is this kind of familiarity, I believe, which leads readers to feel as if they understand the texts they are reading even when the exact meaning of a term, in its sense provided by a dictionary, is not known. We may compare this process and its effect to what we are able to witness of Chaucer’s own encounters with unfamiliar lexemes in his reading of foreign texts in languages which were known to him. Such encounters are evident in his translations, and Olga Fischer draws attention to the ways in which Chaucer makes use of loanwords in his translation of Boethius (an expedient not employed by Alfred in his translation of the same text into Old English). Although it is likely that an English adaptation of an already familiar Latin or French word may have been more readily understood than a new word made up from the native word stock, Chaucer “is not always very discriminate in his use of loanwords” and Fischer suggests that they are often on-the-spot adaptations of the Latin or French term (1979: 632–633). Chaucer is engaging in the same activity as his readers; he is employing his idea of the sense of his source text and the connotations of lexical items in both the language he is working from and his native tongue. Burnley offers support for this idea in his observation that, like the construals of lexical meanings made by his later readers, Chaucer’s lexical selections in his translations are drawn from a vocabulary which is built up of collocations, sense relations and associations (1983: 219).

4. Conclusion Individual construal (made up of background knowledge and information about the specific language variety and, where possible, the idiolect of the author) is crucial for the first reading of texts and has a part to play in the construction of an interpretation. It has been suggested that prior to processing by a reader, a written text lacks both the interaction and phonology levels; only when it is activated by an actual reader can there be said to be an interaction between reader and writer. This means that the text-as-object supplies a large resource of potential semantic connections at both the word and clause level, but that it takes the reader to activate the resource and select which connections to take note of. The reader’s role, then, is rarely a passive one and, from many perspectives, is a positively creative one (Hoey 1991: 221–222). Making use of dictionary evidence to arrive at an idea of the prototypical meaning structure of a lexical item, as I have done here, is not straightforward. As Clara Molina points out (and despite her own very interesting work in this

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area), only a few synchronic dictionaries and lexicological works have joined cognitivist enterprises so far, while historical dictionaries have largely escaped the influence of recent theoretical developments in cognitive linguistics (2008: 1). This means that in readings such as the ones proposed above, readers do not have access to prototypically ordered dictionary definitions which would enable the assessment of the semantic development of the terms within a cognitivist framework. Discussing the ordering of senses, Robert E. Lewis notes the traditional idea that the dominant sense of a word should come first in a dictionary entry, that sense being the one which the majority of the speakers of a language would think of first if presented with the word alone, without any context. The Oxford English Dictionary originally used a logical ordering: its main editor, James Murray, believed that if the historical record were complete, the historical order and the natural or logical order would agree. If, based on the available evidence, they did not, then the historical order had to be adjusted to make it logical, that is, developmentally or derivationally logical. Murray’s idea of logical ordering was of its time, however, in its embodiment of a set of beliefs about the representation of sense development in dictionaries. These included, for example, concrete precedes abstract; general precedes specific; original precedes specific; concrete, general precedes abstract, metaphorical, specific; literal precedes figurative or metaphorical; and simple verb precedes phrasal verb (Lewis 2004: 152). In the Middle English Dictionary, the major meanings [of a word] are presented in ‘logical’ rather than historical sequence […]. The inevitable unilinear presentation of the meanings obviously cannot reflect their multilinear filiation and interrelationships. Since historical filiation of the meanings usually remains obscure for want of sufficient documentation, such a presentation, even if feasible, would be highly conjectural in any event. (Kurath 1954: 3b)

The latest revision to the Oxford English Dictionary makes a much more rigorous attempt to offer historical ordering: The Oxford English Dictionary is based upon ‘historical principles’, and the meanings of individual words entered in the Dictionary are therefore ordered chronologically, within a semantic framework resembling a family tree. Earlier meanings (or related groups of meanings) of a word are placed before later ones, and it is typically possible to track the semantic development of a word over time throughout an entry. The First Edition of the Dictionary sometimes imposed a ‘logical’ ordering on the documentary evidence, especially when it was felt that further information, if available, would confirm this interpretation. In the revised material, senses are ordered systematically on the basis of the evidence now available. (Simpson 2009)

The historical dictionaries offer a breadth of scholarship about Middle English that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for an individual reader to attain, but senses in conventional dictionaries are fixed where textual interpretations


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shift. Ultimately, both individual construal and lexicographic authority come into play in understanding meaning at the level of the individual lexical item up to the level of textual interpretation. Perhaps, however, we also need to take account of Treichler’s conclusion that a dictionary is not an isolated institution that functions as the cultural authority for any given society. Rather, it is constructed within a given culture, and it may variously embody that culture’s values and practices (Treichler 1989: 58). As Lewis points out, the Middle English Dictionary stands as a record of historical lexicographical practice of a particular time and place. Lexicography is subject to the ways in which technology has speeded up all connections, including that between dictionaries and readers. John Simpson observes that now that dictionaries are increasingly accessible to users through the internet, and so are published immediately, the “user perspective” is becoming even more important in lexicography than it has been in the past (Simpson 2002: 11). The stage is set for a more active role for the reader within the dynamic created by the nexus of writer, reader and dictionary.

References Acker, Paul 1982

Wades boot (Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale E 1424): A different tack. American Notes and Queries 21: 2–4. Adams, Michael 2002 Phantom dictionaries: The Middle English Dictionary before Kurath. Dictionaries 23: 95–114. AH 1954 Cookham. Notes and Queries 199: 317. Anderson, Earl R. 1994–1995 Pearl 755: Ostriys “chamber”. English Language Notes 32: 10–13. Armitage, Simon (trans.) 2007 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. London: Faber and Faber. Benson, Larry D. (ed.) 1987 The Riverside Chaucer. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Burnley, David 1983 The Language of Chaucer. Houndmills: Macmillan. Campbell-Kibler, Kathryn, Robert J. Podesva, Sarah Roberts and Andrew Wong (eds.) 2002 Language and Sexuality: Contesting Meaning in Theory and Practice. Stanford, California: CSLI Publications. Casson, L. F. (ed.) 1949 The Romance of Sir Degrevant. A Parallel Text-edition from MSS Lincoln Cathedral A.5.2 and Cambridge University FF.1.6. (EETS o. s. 221.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Crawford, Mary and Roger Chaffin 1986 The reader’s construction of meaning: Cognitive research on reading and comprehension. In: Elizabeth A. Flynn and Patrocinio P. Schweickart (eds.), Gender and Reading: Essays on Readers, Texts, and Contexts, 3–30. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press. Croft, William and D. Alan Cruse 2004 Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Diab, Turki 1989 The role of dictionaries in English for specific purposes: A case study of student nurses at the University of Jordan. In: Gregory James (ed.), Lexicographers and their Works, 74–82. Exeter: University of Exeter. Fischer, Olga 1979 A comparative study of philosophical terms in the Alfredian and Chaucerian Boethius. Neophilologus 63: 622–639. Gavins, Joanna and Gerard Steen 2003 Cognitive Poetics in Practice. London/New York: Routledge. Gårdenfors, Peter 1999 Some tenets of cognitive semantics. In: Jens Allwood and Peter Gårdenfors (eds.), Cognitive Semantics: Meaning and Cognition, 19–36. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, Gatewood, John 1984 Familiarity, vocabulary size, and recognition ability in four semantic domains. American Ethnologist 11: 507–527. Geeraerts, Dirk 1990 The lexicographical treatment of prototypical polysemy. In: Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), Meanings and Prototypes: Studies in Linguistic Categorization, 195–210. London/New York: Routledge. Geeraerts, Dirk 1993 Semantics and the history of philosophical epistemology. In: Richard A. Geiger and Brygida Rudzka-Ostyn (eds.), Conceptualizations and Mental Processing in Language, 53–79. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Hoey, Michael 1991 Patterns of Lexis in Text. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hoey, Michael 2005 Lexical Priming: A New Theory of Words and Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hüllen, Werner 1999 English Dictionaries 800–1700: The Topical Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Jackendoff, Ray 1992 Parts and boundaries. In: Beth Levin and Steven Pinker (eds.), Lexical and Conceptual Semantics, 9–45. Cambridge, Massachusetts/Oxford: Blackwell. Kempton, Willett 1981 Category grading and taxonomic relations: A mug is a sort of a cup. In: Ronald W. Casson (ed.), Language, Culture and Cognition: Anthropological Perspectives, 203–230. New York/London: Macmillan.


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Kurath, H. 1954

Middle English Dictionary Plan and Bibliography. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. Langacker, Ronald W. 1987 Foundations of Cognitive Grammar. Vol. 1: Theoretical Prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Lee, David 2001 Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lehrer, Adrienne 1990 Prototype theory and its implications for lexical analysis. In: Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), Meanings and Prototypes: Studies in Linguistic Categorization, 368–381. London/New York: Routledge. Lewis, Robert E. 2002 The Middle English Dictionary at 71. Dictionaries 23: 76–94. Lewis, Robert E. 2004 Aspects of polysemy in the Middle English Dictionary. In: Julie Coleman and Anne McDermott (eds.), Historical Dictionaries and Historical Dictionary Research: Papers from the International Conference on Historical Lexicography and Lexicology, at the University of Leicester, 2002, 149–156. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer. Margherita, Gayle 1994 The Romance of Origins: Language and Sexuality in Middle English Literature. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Molina, Clara 2008 Historical dictionary definitions revisited from a prototype theoretical standpoint. Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics 6: 1–22. Markman, Ellen M. 1981 Two different principles of conceptual organization. In: Michael E. Lamb and Ann L. Brown (eds.), Advances in Developmental Psychology, Volume 1, 199–236. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. McCormick, Kathleen 1994 The Culture of Reading and the Teaching of English. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Middle English Dictionary (Online edition) http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/med/ (viewed 03.09.2009) Miller, George A. and Christiane Fellbaum 1992 Semantic networks of English. In: Beth Levin and Steven Pinker (eds.), Lexical and Conceptual Semantics, 197–229. Cambridge, Massachusetts/Oxford: Blackwell. Oxford English Dictionary Online 2000– http://www.oed.com/ (viewed 03.09.2009) Rickert, Edith 1908 Early English Romances done into Modern English, Volume 1. London: Chatto and Windus. Rips, Lance J., Edward J. Shoben and Edward E. Smith 1973 Semantic distance and verification of semantic relations. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 12: 1–20.

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Rosch, Eleanor H., Carolyn B. Mervis, Wayne D. Gray, David M. Johnson and Penny Boyes-Braem 1976 Basic objects in natural categories. Cognitive Psychology 8: 382–439. Simpson, John 2002 The revolution in English lexicography. Dictionaries 23: 1–15. Smith, Frank 1985 Reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stockwell, Peter 2002 Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction. London/New York: Routledge. Sylvester, Louise and Jane Roberts 2000 Middle English Word Studies: A Word and Author Index. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer. Talmy Leonard 2000 Toward a Cognitive Semantics. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass./London: MIT Press. Taylor, John 1999 Cognitive semantics and structural semantics. In: Andreas Blank and Peter Koch (eds.), Historical Semantics and Cognition, 17–48. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Tolkien, J. R. R. and E. V. Gordon (eds.) 1967 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Revised by Norman Davis. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Treichler, Paula A. 1989 From discourse to dictionary: How sexist meanings are authorized. In: Francine Wattman Frank and Paula A. Treichler (eds.), Language, Gender, and Professional Writing: Theoretical Approaches and Guidelines for Nonsexist Usage, 51–79. New York: Modern Language Association. Weston, Jessie L. 2003 [1909] Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Retold in Modern Prose. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. Wierzbicka, Anna 1984 Apples are not a “kind of fruit”: the semantics of human categorization. American Ethnologist 11: 313–328.

5. The Expression of Emotions over Time

Conceptual networking theory in metaphor evolution: Diachronic variation in models of love Richard Trim

Abstract Based on empirical evidence of love metaphors in literary works, this paper suggests that a large proportion of our figurative expressions evolve historically on the basis of a process we shall term diachronic conceptual networking. The principle of this hypothesis is that conceptual metaphors act as building blocks for different forms of metaphor paths. Their existence depends on the potential conceptualisation of linguistic metaphors from base conceptual metaphors in a given cultural and historical environment. A metaphor may come into existence and then become obsolete. However, the potential to reconceptualise the metaphor may continue if the appropriate cultural environment does not disappear, thereby producing latent and active phases in metaphor paths. This variation is very common in linguistic metaphors but can also influence base conceptual structures which may either disappear or involve collocational switching in the conceptual metaphor. As a result, networks may be of long or short term duration. In addition, the factor of diachronic salience can vary considerably according to the historical period concerned which, in turn, tends to make the nature of active phases more complex. The present study examines the historical origins of English love metaphors, most of which appear to have followed a Latinate route from Antiquity to the Middle English period. The types of models found in different literary works reveal that many of these are networked to today’s expressions with a considerable degree of regularity. A common cultural heritage of love metaphors in European literature would thus support the idea of a diachronic networking system. At the same time, the different historical periods concerned have also had an effect on the degree of salience of certain models which raises such issues as time-specific paths and conceptual switching outlined above. The two aspects of diachronic regularity and variation in metaphor evolution will therefore form the focus of this analysis.

1. The search for historical models of evolution in meaning An attempt at developing historical models in semantics is particularly difficult due to the extreme flexibility in the numbers of attributes which may be assigned to any one particular lexical item. More than any other theoretical framework, cognitive linguistics is a field which highlights this marked feature


Richard Trim

of flexibility. Models proposed by the Indo-European philologists of the 19th century had a relative degree of success in their particular laws and principles of language change since they were dealing with more “rigid” structures such as phonology and syntax. Semantics was another story. Indeed, later attempts during the early part of the 20th century to find similar laws in literal meaning were doomed to be relatively limited, (cf. Stern’s law ([1931] 1968: 187) which claimed that all English adverbs in the Middle Ages having the sense of ‘rapidly’ changed to ‘immediately’ after an intermediate stage). Likewise, proposals for general principles of meaning change, although useful as a global view of processes, tended to be rather limited to descriptions such as extension, narrowing, amelioration, and so on (Ullman 1962: 197–210). Very little attempt had been made at researching into historical models of figurative language. Paradoxically, the field of cognitive linguistics, which focuses on the flexibility of meaning we have mentioned, also offers the opportunity of developing regular trends in diachronic metaphor evolution. Towards the end of the 20th century, research was undertaken with regard to the degree of regularity in individual metaphor histories, including the existence of regular trends in metaphor paths. Theories of diachronic regularity can be supported by research carried out in the metaphorisation of sensory perception verbs throughout the history of Indo-European languages. Physical sight, for example, has often been metaphorised in the direction of knowledge: I see becoming I understand, or hearing being regularly metaphorised to obeying, as in I hear becoming I heed (Sweetser 1990: 32–37). A general process of regularity in metaphorisation is the trend of a one-way direction involving concrete to abstract or physical to mental conceptualisation. There are, however, exceptions. Cotton and Sharp (1998: 217) argue that the concrete to abstract framework varies between metaphoric and metonymic creation in Spanish verbs. The claim that meaning always changes historically from concrete to abstract appears seldom true of metonymies but often true of metaphor creation in Spanish. Metonymy frequently involves concrete to concrete which can also apply to metaphor on a smaller scale. Likewise, another exception is in the case of mental understanding becoming physical hearing. Latin intendere ‘stretch out, direct one’s attention to’ came to mean ‘understand, take heed of’ in later Romance languages: Old French entendere and Spanish entender. In modern French, however, the word entendre has come to mean ‘hear’ (Sweetser 1990: 35). Despite these exceptions, other diachronic changes, as in grammaticalisation, support the idea of regularity and uniformity in meaning change. There appears to be a clear case of a trend towards subjectification in modals such as must, whereby deontic conceptual structures become epistemic: they must be

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married (I demand it) to they must be married (I am sure of it). Likewise, similar regular changes tend to be unidirectional as in the SPATIAL > TEMPORAL > CONDITIONAL trend of syntactic units as in as long as. In Old English, the equivalent expression swa lange swa only had the spatial element whereas the Modern English version has also developed the temporal and conditional features in this unidirectional trend (Traugott and Dasher 2002: 36–37). Furthermore, it has been suggested that languages and cultures tend to select metaphorisation processes that follow specific grooves. In the field of emotions, fear in English is usually based on two mental models: the EMPTY CONTAINER model (There was a hollow feeling in Bill’s stomach) or a FREEZING COLD image (Fear froze Angela to the ground). However, Ancient Greek phobos (fear) uses a FLIGHT model with the notion of ‘panic-stricken flight’, suggesting that emotion may follow several possible physiological or behavioural routes according to the path a particular language might select (Aitchison 1992: 37). Although diachronic metaphor cannot be predicted, there is a certain degree of logic in the evolution of metaphor. In the same way that metaphor creation is generally logical if it is to make sense in a given conceptual system, SKI = SWALLOW might seem odd in the hypothetical expression ‘the wine skied down his throat’, languages tend to select relatively logical paths in the time dimension. In the same vein, according to our analysis below of conceptual networking in base concepts, it would be strange if a conceptual metaphor of FLAT = UNINTERESTING created meanings at a later historical period such as ‘passionate’ or ‘exciting’. The general notion of flatness is linked to a pejorative quality that lacks significant points of interest, as in a flat landscape which might appear more monotonous than rugged or mountainous terrain. A connotation of ‘exciting’ would therefore not fit in here and this encourages a certain degree of conceptual regularity in the way a path evolves. It remains limited to a conceptual range and does not develop completely different or opposite meanings unless irony or some other application is involved. Within this framework of regularity, metaphor can always produce forms of ambiguity or have ironical effects. A similar situation may arise from opposite meanings. The same situation of a lack of money in the conventional metaphors tight/loose, based on an original conceptual metaphor TIGHT = CONSTRAINT/CONTROL (Trim 2007a: 116–118), may be the result of different circumstances. ‘He is very tight with his money’ can mean he has very little to spend, as in ‘a tight situation’. ‘He is very loose with his money’ may mean he spends a lot and consequently leads to a similar situation in which he has no money. Despite the ambiguity of similar situations, this binary concept follows restricted metaphorisation in which the creation of relevant linguistic items are


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conceptually adapted to the CONSTRAINT and LACK OF CONSTRAINT images, respectively. This thereby induces a general process of regularity in diachronic conceptualisation. Since the more recent cognitive approach has focused largely on the aspect of figurative meaning, it has also paved the way for more research into regular paths of in metaphor evolution. Within this notion of regularity, one major feature of metaphor creation which appears to stand out is the fact that large numbers of linguistic metaphors may be produced from a basic conceptual metaphor. We can therefore say that many items are chained to the core concept, an example of which can be seen in Lakoff’s major work Women, Fire and Dangerous Things with regard to radial chaining (1987: 79). The core concept of mother, for example, may develop two categories of chained concepts representing literal and figurative meaning. The former would include items such as foster-mother and surrogate-mother while the latter would involve items of metaphoric origin such as mother country or mother tongue. It would appear that a large number of our metaphors are built up in this way and it represents a starting-point for a theory of diachronic evolution in conceptual networking proposed below (see Trim 2007a: 109–121). Although the mother concept forms the base of a networking process, it is clear that on a synchronic level there is a considerable amount of variation in how metaphor groups are developed across languages. We shall be looking at a number of variational parameters in this discussion of networks but a major one which comes to mind is the feature of cross-cultural variation. On the one hand, there is the hypothesis that a number of constructs have a universal or near-universal trend. Different cognitive linguists have discussed this issue in relation to bodily experience in metaphor conceptualisation such as spatial orientation. The latter is referred to as image schemas involving theories such as the ‘spatialisation of form hypothesis’ (Lakoff 1987: 283). This categorises conceptualisation of space into different formats such as LINK schemas representing relational structures, UP-DOWN schemas being hierarchical, CENTRE-PERIPHERY being radial, and so on. In English, there are typical expressions such as those being related to happiness that usually have an UP orientation: my spirits rose, you’re in high spirits, etc. and those being related to sadness as DOWN metaphors: I fell into a depression, my spirits sank, etc. (Lakoff and Johnson 1980: 14–17). This trend is confirmed in cross-cultural comparisons involving English and Hungarian (Kövecses 2006: 156–157): (1a)

Ez a film feldobott ‘This film gave me a high/The film made me happy’

Conceptual networking theory in metaphor evolution



Majd elszáll a boldogságtól Almost away-flies-he/she the happiness-from ‘He/she is on cloud nine’

On the other hand, there are clear variational patterns across languages and cultures. Kövecses (2005: 88–113, 2006: 161–163) divides variation of metaphor conceptualisation into two types: cross-cultural and within-culture. The first has a number of different forms. These could involve, among others, roughly the same conceptual metaphors being shared between two languages but that one culture/language shows a preference for some of those employed. The example of symbolisation in figures described above may fit into this classification regarding the history of European languages. The second type likewise has a number of variations. Kövecses (2005: 88– 113) suggests the categories of social, regional, stylistic, sub-cultural and individual dimensions. It is clear from these labels that a number of variants may be produced within one culture/language which are used by only a part of the language community. Kövecses defines the actual cultural context as “all the culturally unique and salient concepts and values that characterize cultures, including, importantly, the governing principles and the key concepts in a given culture or subculture” (2006: 167). Historical variation would be the classical-medieval notion of the “four humours”, as proposed by Geeraerts and Grondelaers (1995: 162–169), as a key component in the European conception of anger as a fluid in a pressurised container, and discussed below in the debate on long and short-term metaphor paths. This example would therefore be an example of a cause of metaphor variation. Among the causes, Kövecses also cites various sources which include, among others, the communicative situation, the role of history, personal concerns and interests, and so on (for further details, see Kövecses 2005: 231–258).

2. Diachronic networking The aim of this theory is to propose a way in which many metaphors evolve. Obviously, it cannot predict metaphor evolution but, given a networking process within a specific conceptual environment, an historical analysis is able to show that there is a potential, as well as the actual existence, for regular metaphor paths originating in core conceptual metaphors. The limits of this potential are thus bound to the interpretative nature and salience of metaphors in a given culture, unless metaphors are borrowed from other languages without the same conceptual capacities, in which case their future productivity is


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likely to cease. We shall be discussing the issues of this theory here but first it would be useful to look at other recent research which supports the idea of diachronic conceptual networking. One significant feature is the role played by semantic fields, a notion which goes back to Trier (1931), who first suggested that semantic change affects semantic fields. Although his theory was founded before the debate on fuzzy boundaries in semantic categories, and therefore did not take into account overlapping or polysemy, it did introduce the role played by semantic fields in historical linguistics particularly in the relationship between general and subordinate categories. As far as networking is concerned, studies on diachronic chaining have established, for example, that metaphoric items are created chronologically within the same semantic field. Bird species such as goose, cuckoo, pigeon, coot and turkey had a chain reaction in creating a common attribute of foolishness in English from the 16th century onwards (Lehrer 1985: 289). According to dictionary attestations in this study, the metaphoric meaning of the first item was introduced into the English language in 1547, the second on the list in 1580, the third in 1593 and the others at a later historical period around the beginning of the 19th century. Other studies of related attributes in the same semantic field have revealed similar findings. Primates have a brutish attribute as in the case of baboons, gorillas and apes. In fact, a large proportion of the mammal/bird semantic field has tended to portray pejorative meanings throughout the history of English such as SNAKES = TREACHERY, SCAVENGER BIRDS = GREED and MULE/DONKEY = OBSTINACY. The trend of diachronic chaining in pejorative meanings is supported by findings carried out by Allan (2003: 4–5). A diachronic model of ANIMALS/ BIRDS = STUPIDITY becomes clear from the figure of 92 dictionary items out of a total of 99 dating between the 14th and 20th centuries and having the attribute of stupidity. The figurative meaning of cleverness could only be attributed to the remaining seven. Hence, we have names such as ape, sheepish, mule, ass-headed, cuckoo, long-eared, gubbins, etc. In general European cultural history, this trend can also be seen in other languages such as French: the bird images of linotte (linnet), butor (bittern), bécasse (woodcock), dinde (turkey) and oie (goose) have all introduced pejorative metaphoric meanings in this semantic field at different points in history. We may deduce from the findings of this particular aspect of diachronic chaining that metaphor evolution does appear to follow specific directions according to the conceptual system of the cultural environment. Not all birds may be included in the diachronic pattern resulting from the base conceptual metaphor of BIRDS = STUPIDITY. In fact, some have the opposite image such as the wise owl due to its physical appearance and almost studious way of

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looking. However, a very large number of the bird category could also be added to the list in future. There is therefore a potential metaphorisation process in secondary groups developing from birds which could have the same image on account of their behaviour or looks. The presence of a large number of items in this semantic field would help reinforce future additions to the network. How can we generalise this process of networking? One way is to look at very general concepts in our environment and first think of all the possible metaphoric attributes which are associated with the concept in question. A starting-point would be to take very basic concepts which have always existed in our process of conceptualisation: flat, rough, smooth, dry, wet, tight, loose, and so on. These would be the types of concepts Lakoff (1987: 271) would refer to as the category of basic-level properties. Take the case of flat. If we think of the possible figurative senses connected to this concept, including conventional senses, expressions such as flat beer, a flat tone, and so on, would probably come to mind. The first would signify a beer without any flavour and the second a rather monotonous tone. In fact, an analysis of the historical evolution of dictionary attestations allows us to deduce that there is a basic conceptual metaphor FLAT = UNINTERESTING in all the metaphor paths associated with the concept of flat. The semantic field of flatness has chained a large number of metaphors with this notion to its core concept. The actual origin of this mapping may stem from the fact that flat objects, such as landscapes, may be of less interest than those with many shapes and forms, as in mountainous terrain. At this point it should be mentioned that in the following analysis, we shall be using a standard source/target pattern in conceptual metaphors. Instead of listing the basic concept flat first and equating all attributes in secondary position, the source > target orientation will be adopted according to the form a)  =  FLAT, b)  =  FLAT, and so on. An attribute such as uninteresting thus represents the source domain and is mapped on to the target domain of a basic concept like flat. We shall see further down that a source domain such as love may be metaphorised in a multiple variety of target domains. In our formulation of a diachronic model of networking, we can say that the core concept serves as a “building block” for metaphor paths. The path referring to taste, for example, was attested in 1626 with the expression: “Spirit of wine burned […] tasteth nothing so hot in the mouth […] but flat and dead” (OED). The notion of monotony has been applied to both people and physical objects in the past, although the former notion of flat people appears somewhat archaic: “I look for nothing from empty, dull, flat people” (OED: 1878). If this collocation is no longer in current usage, its present obsolete status nevertheless has the potential of being regenerated in the future. This pro-


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cess therefore adds another dimension to the model: the states of activity and dormancy in metaphor paths.

3. Active and dormant metaphor paths At the outset, there may be a number of different reasons for the selection of a path according to the cultural environment of the time but an examination of basic concepts in our language does suggest that the existence of preceding concepts often reinforces the creation of subsequent metaphors. In addition, the same types of models keep recurring even if they remain absent in the language for a considerable period of time. The aspect of dormancy implies, in turn, that a number of scenarios are possible according to the historical period. Long-term metaphor paths may begin early on in a language’s history and continue until the modern period. Alternatively, shorter-term paths may begin early on and become obsolete at a later date. A reverse situation may occur in which metaphor paths are created in the modern period or have only a very short life span. In other words, the period of “activity”, when the metaphor is in actual language usage, varies enormously according to the metaphor path. In applying this networking theory, we can also say that during the periods when the metaphor path is not in usage, it is in a “dormant” phase, i. e. it has the potential of being created, on the evidence supplied by its existence during other historical periods (Trim 2007a: 109–112). This idea of regeneration has been expressed before in other terms such as “metaphor retrieval” (Kittay 1987: 20) or “semantic polygenesis” in literal and figurative meaning (see Geeraerts 1997: 24 for a full explanation of this term). If we divide up the evolution of the FLATNESS metaphor into three historical periods: 1 (1200–1500AD), 2 (1500–1900AD) and 3 (1900AD–presentday), the major paths cited above all begin during period 2. They are therefore in a dormant phase in period 1, they become active in period 2 and then continue to the end of period 3. The exception is the flat people metaphor path which has tended to die out before the end of period 3 and has therefore gone back to a dormant phase in which it could potentially be regenerated later on. Each pattern of activity and dormancy in metaphor paths evolving from conceptual metaphors differs according to such historical periods. Take the example of smoothness, whose figurative origins based on the same procedure used for flatness, allow us to postulate a SMOOTH = ATTRACTIVE/TRANQUIL conceptual metaphor. Smoothness has a much wider range of interpretation and more diachronic variability. An analysis of the various metaphoric derivations suggest categories of four primary clusters leading to

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metaphor paths: a) friendly or polite (“with smothe smylyng” – OED: attest. 14th c.); b) a smart or polished style (“smothe folk […] to shewe two facys in oon hood” – OED: attest. c. 1450); c) tranquil, i. e. free from excitement (“that smooth and voluptuous satisfaction which the assured prospect of pleasure bestows” – OED: 1756); and d) free from sharpness, i. e. regarding sound (“it is not age, but constant use, that is the means of producing a smooth, clear tone” – OED: 1836). The diachronic pattern resulting from these four metaphor paths is a varied one in the history of English: a) was only active between 1500 and 1900 AD, i. e. period 2; b) was active from an early period until the present-day, i. e. periods 1–3; while c) and d), according to dictionary attestations, were activated after the Middle Ages and remained so until the present-day, i. e. periods 2–3. It is clear from this analysis that metaphor paths involve a mixture of active and dormant phases which are impossible to predict. The model does, however, display regular conceptual structures for ongoing metaphor creation.

4. Long and short-term conceptual metaphors The notion of active and dormant phases also raises the question as to whether metaphors are likely to last a long time or not. Metaphor paths may be very short-lived or can go on indefinitely. We have seen that there is a considerable degree of variation in their active and latent stages and the life of a conceptual metaphor may also vary considerably in length. The conceptual metaphor LIFE IS A JOURNEY has often been quoted as not only being one which has had a long life, individual metaphor paths linked to it can also last a long time as well. We can compare, for example, the following metaphors between Antiquity and the Late Middle Ages: (2)

Spirits are assigned to less burdensome bodies on the journey of life (Boethius, Consolatio Philosophiae, 3, 19)


In the middle of life’s road I found myself in a dark wood (Dante, Divine Comedy, Purgatorio, I, 1–2)

Likewise, the journey metaphor has continued in specific areas such as friendship: (4)

Their friendship has travelled some rough roads (Kövecses 1995: 336)


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It would appear that conceptual metaphors of this kind have almost universal features; they fit into a large number of different languages and last for centuries. Studies of the emotions by Fabiszak (1999: 133–146) reveal that the semantic field of joy in English offers long-term paths which are similar to the types of universal trends described by Lakoff & Johnson’s (1980: 14–17) orientational schemas whereby the direction upwards embodies positive values, as opposed to down which is negative. Old English words for ‘joy’ are represented by terms such as bliss, gefea and wynsumnesse: (5)

blisse astigan gefea astigan wymsumnesse astigan

‘rise, ascend’ ‘ascend’ ‘ascend’

Literally, joy rises or ascends in the same way as the modern English expression his spirits lifted. The upward movement has lasted from Old to Modern English. If we look back at the LIFE IS A JOURNEY conceptual metaphor, it also has a directional feeling about it. It keeps going forward, similar to Lakoff’s (1987: 285) orientational schema SOURCE-PATH-GOAL which embodies a scenario of an initial state, a sequence of events and a final state, similar to birth, life and death. Long-term metaphor paths may therefore be linked to the kinds of universalphysiological features suggested by Lakoff with regard to our physiological sensory perception of the environment. This may be orientational but can also cover other features such as basic-level properties relating to flat, smooth, etc. resulting from visual or tactile perception. Their respective conceptual metaphors, as we have seen, can last a very long time. However, the term universal in the diachronic sense of ‘infinite’ calls for a word of caution since the findings of some linguists would dispute the fact that certain physiologically-based metaphors last for ever. A case in point is the Lakoffian HEAT = ANGER metaphor (1987: 380–415) which appears to be fairly universal as it can be seen in widely different languages such as Japanese (Matsuki 1995: 140–142) and Chinese (Yu 1995: 66–71). Lakoff describes this metaphor with the HEAT OF FLUID IN A CONTAINER image, such as she got all steamed up or his pent-up anger welled up inside him. Although the HEAT = ANGER metaphor can be traced back a long time, Gevaert (2001, 2002) would claim that early periods of Old English had a SWELL = ANGER conceptual metaphor and that English has therefore changed this universal-based construct. The main reason is due to external influence. The Germanic origins of English supplied the SWELL metaphor:

Conceptual networking theory in metaphor evolution



wæs ða gebolgen beorges hyrde ‘by then the barrow-snake was swollen with rage’ (Beowulf, l. 2304 [Chickering 1977: 186])

However, Old English underwent a considerable amount of influence from Latinate sources during the period 850–950AD due primarily to translations into Old English from Latin by King Alfred and others, as well as influence from various biblical sources. Latin words for heat included incendere ‘to kindle’, calere ‘to be warm’, fervor ‘heat’ and calor ‘heat’, all referring to anger (Gevaert 2002: 275–299). Although Latin influence decreased during a subsequent period between 950 and 1050AD, it increased again after the Norman invasion. We can conclude that not only do active and latent metaphor paths vary in length, their underlying conceptual metaphors do so as well and can thus terminate all metaphor paths linked to them. In a discussion of conceptual metaphor duration, we shall therefore include all those which have not always existed in English, even though their duration may be relatively long.

5. Diachronic salience Not only do conceptual and linguistic metaphors vary in length, the nature of their active paths can fluctuate considerably. Indeed, another important issue in the diachronic networking model concerns metaphoric salience. Limitations in usage may have different origins such as slang, regional variants or idiolects but both linguistic and conceptual metaphors can vary in their cognitive weighting throughout the language community at given points in time. This feature becomes apparent in how metaphoric expressions are translated in the literary works. An analysis of such translations shows that a translator often hesitates or avoids using the same metaphoric expressions found in the source language (Trim 2007b: 45–56). For example, the expression on a day which had a summer face and a winter constitution, referring to what was probably a sunny day with a cold wind or low temperatures in Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd [1874] (1974: 62), was left out in a standard French translation (Zeys: 1980) Diachronic salience can take on different forms. The introduction of a conceptual or linguistic metaphor may be highly salient on inception and then slowly become less salient through time until obsolescence. The level of salience may be reduced to one which introduces a degree of uncertainty as to its current usage. Would a member of a language community really use the metaphor in question? These strange-sounding metaphors, which are more flexible


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in literary works than in technical texts, may refer to both an individual linguistic item or to a conceptual metaphor that does not necessarily correspond to society’s way of thinking at the time. On the other hand, it may correspond to a certain section of a society or a minority in the linguistic community, in which case the latter would reduce its salience even further. On a longer timescale, the diachronic patterns of salience may fluctuate in the same way as active and dormant phases of metaphor paths may go through cyclic patterns. The fashion for a particular type of metaphor may come back into common usage, thereby increasing its salience level. The exact mechanisms which are responsible for shifts, salience and regeneration are a complex issue and are, at least in some forms, intricately bound up with the types of within-culture variation discussed above. Kövecses (2006: 167–171) suggests two categories of causes in metaphor variation: differential experience and differential cognitive preferences (or styles). The first includes the actual cultural context in its wider sense, i. e. the governing principles and key concepts in a given culture or subculture. Related to this aspect are the histories of a country or the personal histories of ordinary people. The latter aspect, for example, comes to the fore in literary works. The second category includes, among others, the notion of experiential focus. Although human beings share a great deal of bodily experience on which they build, or could build, universal metaphors, it is not utilised in the same way or to the same extent in different languages and varieties. As we have seen, the conceptualisation of anger in terms of heat is used in English, Japanese and Chinese, but the latter actually tends to have a prevalence for pressure rather than heat (Yu 1995: 59–92). Furthermore, we have also seen that the conceptualisation of anger in terms of heat has not always been the case in English. From a diachronic point of view, the conclusion of Kövecses’ experiential focus theory is that it should not be expected that any of the conceptualised responses associated with anger or other emotions remain constant throughout the ages (2006: 171). He sums up this view as follows: “I believe the answer is that universal physiological features provide only a potential basis for metaphorical conceptualisation without constraining what the specific metaphors will be […] We should not expect any of the conceptualised responses associated with anger to remain constant in conceptualising anger (and the emotions in general) throughout the ages” (2005: 248). This approach is clarified further in his claim that there are several distinct components in universal embodiment associated with a target domain. The conceptual metaphors that are created may be based on one component at a certain point of time and on another at another point. Parallel to this pattern, conceptual metaphors may be based on one component in one culture and on another component in another culture.

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It is clear that the focus of a body part very often changes from one historical period to another. The cause may be, for example, a particular cultural focus at the time, as in the case of religion. Jager (1990: 845–859) points out that pectorality was an important focus of the body in Old English and that the chest, rather than the mouth, was the centre of verbal activity. This extended to the psychological domain. One of the main reasons, he claims, is that the chest is not only “the source of speech and the repository of God’s word and inspiration but also […] the location of knowledge, belief, love, the Holy Spirit, and the spirit or soul itself”. In the late Middle Ages, the pectoral focus was also found in the works of writers such as Chaucer, Dante and Boccaccio. It may be deduced that the shift in the decrease in pectorality in literary works after the Middle Ages was probably due to a decline in the influence of religion. Indeed, diachronic trends of cultural focus can be seen in other writers such as American authors of the 17th to 20th centuries (1675–1975). Smith, Pollio and Pitts (1981: 911–935) analysed these trends and concluded that different cultural domains do, in fact, correlate with varying degrees of metaphoric activity along the time dimension. Religion went into a steady decline in American literature from the seventeenth century onwards, whereas the domain of nature gradually increased, reaching a peak in the twentieth century. The reason for this was that the early writers such as Matthews, Bradstreet, Edwards and Franklin who lived in settled parts of the New World such as Boston and Philadelphia, did not have to come to terms with nature to the extent of later writers such as Cooper, Emerson and Twain. The former group were focused more on the dominant religious issues of the time whereas the latter were influenced by 19th century westward expansion and the problems of dealing with the American wilderness. The interesting point about diachronic shift in the focus of conceptual metaphor with regard to body parts is that matches may be seen between very different cultures/languages but they often occur in different periods of history. Padel (1992: 12–18) illustrates the fact that the focus of feeling in Ancient Greece was the belly, a fact that is also demonstrated by Matsuki (1995: 142– 145) with regard to the modern Japanese concept hara (belly). Does this mean that there are particular trends in the shift of body parts? It is difficult to answer this question at the present time without analysing a large number of cultural histories. It might be the case that each language, or group of languages, have individual cultural histories and this may give diachronic trends in conceptual metaphor at a global level a rather random pattern as far as shifts in body parts are concerned. The role of the history of the country, as in the case of the American writers discussed above, can be seen in the theory of macro and micro-shifts discussed


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by Charteris-Black (2004: 80–84). The first is a reference to a conceptual shift in the source domain and the second a shift in particular metaphors within the same source domain. In a study of British political party manifestos during the twentieth-century post-war period, it was observed that a macro-shift took place in the use of conflict metaphors. These shifted from 32% in an early corpus (1945–1970) to 43% in a later corpus (1974–1997). The cause of the change was seen as a relative distance from the Second World War, so that as the experience of war decreases, a conflict lexicon creates more tension. At the same time, there was an increase in the use of building as a source domain during the course of the early period while in the later period, the macro feature of building decreased. However, micro variations took place in that the notion of framework increased over that of structure. Explanations for these shifts are therefore due to historical events of the country. With regard to causes of salience, Charteris-Black (2004: 249) suggests that historical experience is itself a factor influencing the persuasive role of metaphor. Experiences are seen as socially salient: salience can be stimulated by distance in time since this can increase the distance between domains. Likewise, it can also be encouraged by immediate factors of social concern. Diachronic fluctuation and salience therefore varies according to social contexts. Acceptance of new metaphors takes place at different rates. It is difficult to calibrate this process but it may operate in a similar way to Traugott and Dasher’s model of the invited inferencing theory of semantic change (IITSC), a theory which also includes metaphorisation (2002: 37). A new item enters the language community from one source, is communicated between two or more people, and finally spreads throughout the community until it becomes part of an innovation in the language. The new item therefore starts off with low salience and becomes highly salient when fully accepted. There may, however, be instances where distribution in the language community may not necessarily correspond to the level of interpretation or salience of a metaphor in a given text (see below). Salience not only depends on various sections of the language community according to within-culture variation, it may become suddenly less salient due to cultural borrowing, as in the case of the SWELL = ANGER metaphor in Old English being replaced by Latinate sources, or undergo a slow decline due to cultural / social changes that take place as in the case of the shifts outlined above. Metaphors may be regenerated by reversing the trend of decreasing salience or by coming back into usage after obsolescence. The former is likely to depend on the repetition of historical and cultural events such as another war or the revival of social customs. From a conceptual point of view, regeneration of an

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obsolete metaphor depends on a number of factors which include the controversial issue of metaphor death. This long debate is outside the scope of the present paper (see Charteris-Black 2004: 18–19; Goatly 1997: 31–40; Searle 1979: 122 and Traugott 1985: 21, for aspects of this debate), but one example of an obsolete metaphor which can not be regenerated is cited by Lakoff and Turner (1989: 128–131). They claim that a truly dead metaphor is one which no longer exists at either the conceptual or linguistic level. The word pedigree in English was derived from Old French pied de grue, meaning the ‘foot of a crane’ (in the ornithological sense). The image of a crane’s foot was mapped onto the image of a family tree diagram to represent genealogical origins. This original metaphor could no longer be regenerated. However, linguists such as Lakoff and Turner would claim that conventional metaphors, that may not be considered metaphors at the present time, are conceptually alive and can regenerate, at least, associated metaphors. Conventional metaphors would include verbal or prepositional phrases such as conduit metaphors: to get across, it was hard to get that idea across to him (see Lakoff and Johnson 1980: 10–11; Reddy 1979: 284–324). It would appear that salience normally implies that there has to be a strong link between metaphorical and non-metaphorical expressions of the same concept, both from a synchronic and diachronic perspective. Take the expression used above: the wine skied down his throat. If it were used in a particular situation, such as in a parallel use for a skier who hurriedly finishes his glass of wine in a restaurant before going back to the ski slopes, it is unlikely to have much salience in most other situations. For the same reason, it would also unlikely to be used at a later historical period, unless a similar isolated situation arose as in the example of the restaurant on the ski slopes. The synchronic and diachronic dimensions are therefore linked. In addition, the fact that UNINTERESTING = FLAT has a selected specific groove in English would suggest that an opposing semantic equation, such as INTERESTING = FLAT, is unlikely both synchronically and diachronically. The exception to this is if a different groove or related set of words arises either internally or through borrowing. An historical reason can often be found for radical changes. An analysis of metaphorical meanings of the colour green in the history of English reveals that many expressions are linked to immaturity, as in he is a bit green behind the ears. A radical change occurred in the 1970’s when the mapping ECOLOGY = GREEN was calqued into many European languages from the new German political party of the 1970’s. The colour metaphor has been extended to a number of domains relating to ecology and therefore represents a substantial diachronic innovation. This is relevant to the networking theory described above. A large number of basic concepts appear to have metaphoric meanings which can be traced back


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to a single common denominator. However, concepts such as the colour green have more than one network which may be traced back to different origins that are created in different time zones. These are fairly clear-cut cases but there is also an area of intermediate branches in metaphor history in which it may not be clear if a meaning originated in one particular network or another. Very often, a certain amount of interpretation of the different links is needed. In the case of the TIGHT/LOOSE binary concept mentioned above, modern English loose has had a number of metaphorised elements based on a LOOSE = LACK OF CONSTRAINT / CONTROL common denominator, in contrast to TIGHT metaphors having an opposite set of attributes. Thus, loose in modern English can refer to someone who is lacking (in the control) of morals or is unchaste. In 16th century English, however, loose also meant ‘naked’: (7)

They are excedynge swyfte of foote by reason of theyr loose goinge from theyr chyldes age (OED: 1555)

Does naked belong to the “constraint” network? At first sight, interpretation of this metaphor, LOOSE = NAKED, may require more effort at the present day but, on closer analysis, a possible link can be seen in the fact that nakedness may have been frowned upon more so than today. Hence a link between looseness and immorality. However, this is non-conclusive since there is the possibility that LOOSE in this case simply means ‘not being constrained by clothes’, rather than a link to immorality. Hence they are able to run faster. At this stage, we are only able to offer tentative hypotheses on the internal semantic structures of diachronic salience. It appears that salience depends on the degree to which metaphorised elements of a given concept are linked to a common source. The more paths there are, the more salient the network is likely to be at a given point in time. Since clusters vary through time, however, the level of salience also tends to fluctuate diachronically. An additional factor, therefore, which probably stabilises metaphorisation and salience is the strength of a metaphor in relation to non-metaphorical expressions in the same concept. This would tend to follow the lines of prototype metaphor (Tourangeau & Sternberg 1982). The discussion so far has thus attempted to present a model of diachronic networking responsible for a large proportion of metaphor creation and its ongoing historical evolution. With the aid of the different dimensions proposed in this model, we shall now analyse a domain which lends itself to a survey of diachronic metaphor on a large time-scale: the evolution of figurative senses in love found in literary works. Love represents one of the fields discussed since

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time immemorial and thereby offers a useful area of research into the history of love metaphors in English. We will propose here that present-day love metaphors have been networked in literary works to patterns which can be traced back to the English literary works of the Middle Ages and from there to primarily Latinate routes originating in Antiquity. These networks have, on the one hand, a remarkable degree of regularity in diachronic models relating to common conceptual origins but, on the other, quite clearly display the variational features discussed above of activity/dormancy and diachronic salience.

6. Love and the emotions A great deal of interest has been shown in recent years regarding emotions as a basis for metaphor research. It is indeed a highly productive area for cognitive research and metaphor creation. At the same time, it is not an easy field for cognitive evaluation. Attempts have been made to set up a list of fundamental emotions, as proposed by Izard and Buechler (1980: 165–187), which include interest, joy, surprise, sadness, anger, disgust, contempt, fear, shame/shyness and guilt. Critics of this approach suggest that emotions have many similar sub-groups according to the culture in question. Wierzbicka claims that the exact boundaries between related feelings are language-specific (1986: 590). Another approach to defining emotions is the proposal that they are valenced reactions to three particular phenomena: events, agents and objects. The first are people’s construals about things to happen; the second are objects viewed in their capacity as objects and the third are things considered in the light of their actual or presumed instrumentality in causing such events (Ortony, Clore and Collins 1988: 18–19). These definitions lead to summaries of emotions as follows: (1) Consequences of events. These split emotions into two dichotomies of pleased/displeased referring to implications for oneself or others. The resulting emotions are happy for others, resentment, gloating, pity, joy distress, satisfaction, fears-confirmed, relief, disappointment, gratification, remorse, gratitude and anger. (2) Actions of agents. The same pattern occurs with a split between approving/ disapproving for self and others. This results in: pride, shame, admiration and reproach. In addition, there is an overlap with the first category in that gratification, remorse, gratitude, and anger can also result from agents. (3) Aspects of objects. It is in this category that the emotion of love appears. Objects cause a split into a general dichotomy of liking/disliking which results in love and hate.


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The suggestion arising from this kind of analysis is that a cognitive study of the origin of love would involve the reactions to a particular object which, presumably, could be either animate or inanimate. The latter category would thereby give rise to a further differentiation in love. If we now narrow down our definitions of the emotions to love itself, suggestions have also been made regarding its possible classification. Tissari (2003: 2) proposes a classification of six major types with the use of Latin/Greek labels: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

storge: love within a family storge-eros: marital love eros: sexual love between lovers philia: love as experienced between friends agape: the participants of religious love khreia: the love of things, as in the case of inanimate love outlined above

In addition, there is a seventh type of love involving self-love and which therefore has only one participant. The study of love in this analysis will focus on the love between two partners as in categories (2) and (3). Again, these types of love, on a global scale, can be further sub-divided if non-Western cultures are taken into account. Contemporary traditions do not necessarily include marital love in marriage. Kövecses (1988: 11) describes how the Bemba tribe of present-day Zimbabwe traditionally does not have the notion of love in their marriages. This can also be seen, to a certain extent, in arranged marriages in contemporary India. De Rougemont (1972: 71–77) claims that there are fundamental differences in the notion of love between two people which are related to religious groups as, for example, in Western and Oriental religions. He suggests that a basic difference between these two groups concerns, first of all, category (5) above, or the individual’s relationship to God. In Western religions, whose origins were in the Middle East, there is not a complete union with God during the lifetime of an individual except for communion in church. At this moment, the church acts as a link between the two. In Oriental religions, whose origins were in Asia, there is complete union with God, or in the case of Buddhism, a single Universal Being. The extent to which religious love has influenced marital love is not clear but the two religious groups differentiate regarding the latter in that Christianity developed the idea of passion which became predominant in twelfth-century Europe. Oriental religions, as in China, have had the notion of fondness in human relations rather than the idea of passion. This is supported by the fact that pre-Christian Greece did not have this notion, as can be seen in the

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concept of Platonic love (derived from Plato’s Symposium). Human love at that time was generally conceived to be for pleasurable aims while passion, from a tragic or painful point of view, was generally despised. This is a very different approach to the conceptualisation of love, for example, in the European medieval period. It can be seen, therefore, that notions of love can vary both cross-culturally and diachronically. As far as metaphor models are concerned, some are logically influenced by variational changes in conceptualisation whereas others seem, at least from a diachronic point of view within one particular cultural history, to survive social changes. We shall now examine the origins of presentday English metaphors of love and discuss how they have evolved diachronically according to the networking theories outlined above.

7. The diachronic network of human love In this historical analysis, we are fortunate enough to have a sizeable amount of research findings from contemporary patterns of English as a starting-point in our investigation. Among those cognitive linguists who have devoted a considerable amount of attention to metaphor and the emotions in present-day English is Kövecses (1988, 2000). Most of his corpus stems from spoken American English but when we investigate historical patterns, we are naturally limited to the written word which can often influence the type of register we encounter in historical research. It is difficult to estimate the impact of the written word on ordinary, everyday language in the past but we are nevertheless able to have an idea of how conceptualisation was operating in former times. The following analysis will thereby investigate the extent to which presentday metaphors may be traced back to former historical periods in the form of diachronic networks. A large number of Kövecses’ conceptual metaphors can indeed be traced to the Middle Ages and beyond. Many of these love metaphors may be linked to conceptual metaphors involving common denominators such as fire, unity, treasure, nutrient/food, blindness and madness. Kövecses cites some of the following examples: (8)


she is his latest flame the perfect match hello, my precious she’s the cream in my coffee he was blinded by love she drives me out of my mind


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8. Long-term love metaphors An historical analysis of the list above shows that the conceptual metaphors involved are long-term and an analysis of literary works shows that they have been linked through different languages and contacts between authors since Antiquity. We therefore have ongoing links in the evolution of these models. As a first step back in time, a study of Chaucer’s writings from the Middle English period reveals a good many of the metaphoric patterns outlined above. As would be expected, the first image of FIRE is also to be found in medieval literature. The fire symbols in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Hieatt & Hieatt: 1976) appear to be mostly associated with physiological features in which heat, as in Lakoff’s examples of Modern English, corresponds to intense emotion. An example taken from the “Franklin’s Tale” refers to fyr as passion: (9)

Ye knowen wel, lord, that right as hir desyr Is to be quiked and lighted of your fyr (310: ll. 321–322) ‘You know well, lord, that just as her desire Is to be quickened and lighted by your fire’

A very common notion of love in Middle English was also the symbol of unity, as in the second example in Kövecses’ list, and is often used by Chaucer. The “Merchant’s Tale” has numerous examples of being united or bound together: (10)

Whan that the preest to yow my body bond (285: l. 948) ‘When the priest bound my body to you’

Unity is a very basic notion of matching partners and is likely to be a universal trend diachronically. A perusal of historical periods between Middle English and the modern period would probably reveal other such examples in literary works. Kövecses (1988: 18) suggests that the unity metaphor goes back at least to Plato but since then has undergone many changes. The mythological version implies that unity of two human beings was the notion of originally being one. Later versions in history embody other kinds of unity in the form of complementary chemical or physical parts which fit together or in the form of biological parts living in symbiosis. This kind of unity is also used in recent expressions relating to how people work together, for example, in which terms such as physical chemistry are used. A common notion to all historical periods might be the metaphor of treasure, listed as the third item on the list taken from Kövecses’ data above. The

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loved one is considered a precious entity as can be seen in another example taken from the “Merchant’s Tale”: (11)

Thanne is a wyf the fruit of his tresor (248: l.26) ‘Then a wife is the best part of his treasure’

Related to the idea of treasure is also the concept of gifts which was considered to come from God: (12)

A wyf is Goddes yifte verraily (244: l.67) ‘A wife is truly a gift of God’

The three models of fire, unity and treasure thus appear to be common notions of love in medieval literature. The fourth correspondence is the LOVE = NUTRIENT/FOOD metaphor. Chaucer also used this kind of imagery in the “Merchant’s Tale” when the main character, January, who was advanced in years, told his friends that he was seeking a wife who had to be very young: (13)

“But o thing warne I yow, my freendes dere; I wol non old wyf han in no manere; She shal nat passe twenty yeer, certayn; Old fish and yong flesh wolde I have ful fayn. Bet is,” quod he, “a pyk than a pikerel; And bet than old boef is the tendre veel: I wol no womman thritty yeer of age – It is but bene-straw and greet forage” (248–250: ll. 171–178) “But I warn you of one thing, dear friends; I won’t have any kind of old wife; she shall not be over twenty, for certain; I would very willingly have old fish but fresh meat. A pike is better than a pickerel”, he said, “but tender veal is better than old beef. I don’t want any woman thirty years of age; that’s nothing but straw and coarse fodder”

The idea of love being equated with food was therefore a clear image in Chaucer’s mind. Many expressions also occur with the image of sweetness in the Canterbury Tales, mariage honey-swete (“The Merchant’s Tale”), in the same way as modern-day expressions, honey, honey-pie, sugar, and so on. The other two correspondences on the list above are likewise found in Chaucer. A LOVE = BLINDNESS model occurs in the “Merchant’s Tale”: (14)

for Love is blind al day and may nat see (258: l. 354) ‘for love is for ever blind and cannot see’


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The LOVE = MADNESS metaphor, to denote lack of control in love, can be found in Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale” (15)

But Palamon that love destreyneth so, That wood out of his wit he gooth for wo (69: l. 598) ‘But love afflicted Palamon so much that he was completely out of his mind’

The examples of fire, unity, treasure, food, blindness and madness thus show that these images have probably remained in the conceptual systems of the English language for a long period of time. In accordance with our theories on diachronic networking, it could be argued that some of Kövecses’ examples of love have been networked to the conceptual directions of former medieval models. It should be pointed out at this stage that the existence of such metaphors in the modern period could also be due to two other factors in this theory. The first is that pre-existing metaphors in a language’s history have reinforced their multiple variations today. The second is that, even if these metaphors had not existed before, they may very well have come into existence due to the potential creativity of a given conceptual system mentioned above. There may therefore be two influences at work: reinforcement of existing metaphors on the one hand and, on the other, natural creation due to the universal nature of such long-term metaphors regardless of their activated or latent states beforehand. An analysis of comparative medieval literature does show that the different contacts between writers of the time probably had a continuing influence in notions of medieval courtly love, for instance. The origins of medieval love metaphors in English point to a Latinate source.

9. Latinate sources of English medieval metaphors It would be a logical assumption that many present-day English love metaphors can be traced back through Latinate sources and ultimately to the literature of Antiquity, given the fact that the latter is a primary source of the English cultural heritage. However, a perusal of early manuscripts also provides evidence for this fact. Chaucer was strongly influenced by both French and Italian medieval literature. On the one hand, he was influenced by the anonymous allegory Roman de la Rose, which he was purported to have translated and, on the other, Italian authors such as Petrarch and Boccaccio. Various links have been established between the respective works of Chaucer and his Italian counterpart Boccaccio. One link has been demonstrated by

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the source of the “Franklin’s Tale” being associated with Boccaccio’s Filocolo. Edwards (1996: 141–162) claims that the source is specifically linked to the section known as the Love Questions of his work. He views the “Franklin’s Tale” as a form of cultural translation of the Filocolo and the result is that social customs of love are thereby transferred. Likewise, links have been made between the “Merchant’s Tale” and Boccaccio’s Decameron. Although scholars have often refuted such a correspondence, Beidler (1973: 266–284) claims that the plots of specific parts of both stories are almost identical. Many of the conceptual metaphors used in the range of love categories nevertheless appear to be the same and incorporate the models of the time. Among the long-term metaphor paths, we can find the models of fire and treasure in the Old French texts of the Roman: (16)

Et tout adés en regardant Recouverras le feu ardant. Qui ce qu’il aime plus regarde Plus alume son cuer et larde (ll. 2343–2346) ‘And while you look at her, you will rekindle the burning fires. The more you look at the object of your love, the more you open up and set your heart afire.’

Likewise the concept of treasure linked to the object of love: (17)

Je mens: trop y a chier cheté! (l. 2468) ‘I am telling a lie: it is such a valuable treasure to have!’

The historical links between Chaucer, Boccaccio and Petrarch have been well documented in the past (see, for example, Wilkins 1963). A number of Kövecses’ long-term models can thus be found in Petrarch’s sonnets: (18)

Canzon, I’ non fu’ mai quel nuvol d’oro Che poi discese in pretïosa pioggia Si che ’l foco di Giove in parte spense Ma fui ben fiamma ch’un bel guardo accense (sonnet 23) ‘O song, I was never that golden cloud that once fell as a precious shower, so that Jove’s flame was quenched a little, but I have been the fire that a lovely look kindled’

Some of Kövecses’ list can therefore be retraced to Petrarch’s poetry and an examination of Chaucer’s metaphors show similar trends due to his close contacts


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with French and Italian literature. If we go back further in time, we are able to see that these models logically originate at the birthplace of our civilization in Antiquity. Many Latin examples, which ultimately stem from the Ancient Greek epics, may illustrate their early history but we shall restrict our discussion of the classical period to the FIRE model.

10. Links to Antiquity In his revival of classical studies, Petrarch actually started writing in Latin as well as medieval Italian. He became one of the most well-known figures of the revival which was certainly helped by the fact that he was appointed the equivalent of the Poet Laureate in Rome in 1341. In addition, Petrarch derived his definition of courtly love from Ovid, adding his own personal experience to it (Thomson 1959: 324), and an analysis of Ovid’s work shows that this was one of the main sources of the types of medieval metaphors we have been discussing. The FIRE (HEAT) = PASSION and ANGER metaphor routes seem to be clearly linked to classical sources. Ovid’s work, Metamorphoses, has an equivalent not only for these models but for many other long-term paths. Kaufhold (1997: 66–71) describes some of these metaphors in relation to specific characters in the epic poem such as Tereus who nurtures and sustains the fires of his passion (Latin: ignes ipse suos nutrit) with thoughts of Philomela. Procne “boils over in her seething rage” (exaestuat) and “burns” with anger (ardet) at Tereus’s deeds. The figurative fire becomes an almost objective reality when Procne feels like burning the royal house with Tereus in it. Kaufhold’s analysis also highlights the fact that many of these metaphor models often combine two characteristics such as FIRE = PASSION with FIRE = FOOD. Ovid combines both food and fire: Tereus boils with passion which continues to feed (nutrit) his desires. As the title Metamorphoses suggests, Ovid’s work is a constant play between the literal and the figurative world. In the same way as Procne wishes to burn the royal house after feeling the fire of anger, the fire and food metaphor precedes the preparation of a banquet scene. Another image of fire used in Ovid’s work is a funerary one. Just as fire was used more often for religious purposes, within the context of the symbolisation of the flames of hell during the classical and medieval periods, it was also associated with torches used at funerary settings (de funere raptas) (Kaufhold 1997: 67). This additional use of the image would thus appear to be more specific to that period and raises the issue of those conceptual and linguistic metaphors being more limited in duration.

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11. Short-term paths and diachronic salience In our discussion of the effects of salience on long and short-term paths of historical metaphors, we shall look at two major aspects: a) the influence of cultural and, in this case, literary thought on metaphor evolution and b) the aspect of what we shall term here “internal semantic structures” of the language. By the second term, we shall refer to frequency rates and semasiological change. With regard to the first aspect of cultural and literary factors, a number of metaphor models occur in the writings of Chaucer that suggest they are more restricted to the Middle Ages. This is to be expected since attitudes towards love were often very different at that time. One of the first concepts which springs to mind, when thinking of the medieval period, is courtly love. The features of this type of love have been fully discussed in literary criticism. An aspect which is less clear is the extent to which aspirations about courtly love have continued into modern society. This point is important if we wish to differentiate between obsolete metaphor creation in time-specific paths and fluctuating diachronic salience. Conceptual metaphors more specific to the medieval period would appear to be those equating love with, for example, subservience (11), law (12) and pain (13): (19)

Servant in love and lord in mariage (“Franklin’s Tale”, 298: l. 65)


Unnethe mighte they the statut holde In which that they were bounden unto me (“Wife of Bath’s Tale”, 190: l. 198) ‘They were scarcely able to keep the statute by which they were bound to me’


Love hath his fyry dart so brenningly Y-striked thurgh my trewe careful herte (“Knight’s Tale”, 74: ll. 706–707) ‘Love has so ardently thrust his fiery dart through my faithful, troubled heart’

The notions of servants in love and amorous legal aspects are not a common part of everyday language today but were certainly a part of courtly love of the Middle Ages. All of these examples can be related to similar metaphors in other medieval European literature, as in the French and Italian texts above, but they probably do not go further back in time except for the association of


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pain in (13) which had another implication in Antiquity and has also continued today in a different light. It is difficult to ascertain the exact relationship between particular love metaphors and cultural models characteristic of the period in which the metaphors are used. This would require a lot more literary analysis in the case of Chaucer’s metaphors as well as further research. However, several comments could be made here. The first is that the use of metaphors in literature represent a “within-domains” variant, and that Chaucer may have used particular love metaphors for a special effect. It is, of course, impossible to know how many of these metaphors would have been used in ordinary spoken conversation at the time. We therefore have the literary versus spoken language dichotomy to contend with and, since we only have literary texts as evidence for metaphors during earlier historical periods, we need to look at the relevant authors’ attitudes towards their writing. With regard to Chaucer’s metaphors designated as “short-term” above, a starting point would be to look at his attitudes towards love and marriage, an issue which has been long debated in literary criticism of the medieval period. A useful comparison would be to analyse the notions of subservience and law in the servant and statute metaphors. These are employed in two different types of genres found in the Franklin’s and Wife of Bath’s narratives of the Canterbury Tales. The first involves courtly love and its “high” ideals, although Chaucer seems to hesitate about the inclusion of subservience in the following context on marriage: (22)

Here one may see a humble, wise agreement: she has thus accepted her servant and her lord, servant in love and lord in marriage; he was, then, both in lordship and in servitude. servitude? No, but in the higher state of lordship, since he had both his lady and his love; his lady, certainly, and his wife too, which is in accordance with the law of love (p. 298, ll. 296–303).

The second appears to use irony and forms part of the bawdy, slapstick comedies which developed during the Middle Ages. A good example of this genre is also used in Boccaccio’s Decameron. The reference of a “statute” in the Wife’s tale is a spouse’s obligation to satisfy a partner in physical love as the following context shows: (23)

Now, sirs, I’ll go on with my tale. – As ever I hope to drink wine or ale, I’ll tell the truth; of those husbands that I had,

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three of them were good, and rich, and old; they were scarcely able to keep the statute by which they were bound to me – you know quite well what I mean by this, by heaven! So help me God, I laugh when I think how pitifully I made them work at night (p. 190, ll. 193–202). The “higher” ideals of courtly love originate from troubadours’ love lyrics. The second variant can be traced back through different genres originating in Cicero’s argumentum, a “fictitious event which nevertheless could have happened, as in the case of comedies” (Davenport 2004: 11), to the French fabliaux of the late Middle Ages that were parodies of romance in their treatment of love and sex. However, the different types of literary criticism on Chaucer’s attitude to these topics have often made the issue unclear. As a result, his use of metaphor may also cast a doubt on its interpretation and could thus reinforce “within-culture” variation. Literary critics often feel that Chaucer was trying to express his ideas on love and marriage through his writings. However, he probably tried to please both the aristocracy and the new social ideas of the bourgeoisie which were developing in urban areas such as London during the 14th century. In reality, he may have been hesitant to accept the type of perfection, such as chastity in love and marriage, that the Church was teaching, raising the argument that he was “ahead of his time” (Howard 1960: 232). The definition of courtly love itself has also been a problematic one. It has been suggested that the rejection of courtly ideals by invoking irony or humour entails the notion of the medieval concept fine amor used in medieval literary works, although this is controversial and fine amor could also be simply considered as a variant of courtly love (Burnley 1980: 129). Scholars also differ on the actual purpose of courtly love: “The questions of whether courtly love served as an actual social code; whether adultery was necessary; whether marriage was a goal of courtly service; indeed, whether the entire concept was an ironic satire or parody – all of these are questions which are largely unresolved” (Boardman 1977: 568–569). In a narrative as chivalrous as the “Knight’s Tale”, for example, it is felt that there is a clear exploitation of the social inadequacy of courtly ideals. Whatever the definitions of courtly love may be, Clubb suggests scales of medieval love from “low” to “high” with reference to the Decameron: a) simple lust, b) love with a total lack of affection; c) courteous banter with elegant lyrics and d) the highest level which adds virtue to desire, tenderness and self-denial (1960: 188). We could therefore assume that the distinction between slapstick


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love comedy and traditional concepts of courtly love, according to his view, join up or overlap somewhere along his scale of medieval love. One major conclusion from this brief survey is that attitudes to love in the Middle Ages, at least in literary works, appear to be very varied. Somewhere along the line, a metaphor may either have had a serious intention or was ironic in nature. Conceptual metaphors of love such as legality and subservience clearly existed in the culture of the period. Poets and writers, however, were probably coming to terms with specific frames of conceptualisation and serious treatment or parodies of love reflected authors’ views towards the subject. At the same time, Chaucer would probably have handled material from contemporary thinking according to his own views with an eye on different sections of readership. This is evident in the role of prologues as in the “Miller’s Tale”. By including both comic and bawdy material in the story, Chaucer distanced himself in the prologue from the relevant story-teller, in this case the Miller, who is described rather pejoratively as a “churl”. The reader is invited to go onto another tale if it is thought not to be suitable (whoever does not like it, turn over the page and choose another tale): “and therefore, whoso list it nat yhere, turne over the leef and chese another tale”, “Miller’s Prologue”, ll. 68–69, (see Davenport 2004: 34). With regard to general principles of synchronic “within-variation” conceptualisation, metaphor interpretation can vary even within one category such as serious intent, in contrast to the effects of parody. The result is that it may lead to ambiguity. Deignan (1997: 28–29) observes that words such as twinge and stab, particularly in describing women’s desire in modern fiction, can also represent pleasant sensations: (24)

I had felt a twinge of desire. A stab of pleasure, or its anticipation, pierced her. She felt weak with desire.

This modern conceptual metaphor of PAIN = LOVE reminds us of the pain that should be felt in medieval courtly love, which was also considered to be prestigious. This raises the issue of the diachronic dimension. Exactly how did changes in cultural models take place? This is another complex area but one basic feature is apparent: it seems that attitudes towards metaphoric imagery change through time (see Padel [2002] for an interesting account of metaphoric imagery in Ancient Greece). One thought-provoking idea in Padel’s work is that, although we may have the same metaphoric images today as the Greeks had in the 5th century BC, we may not actually feel the perception of these images in the same way as the Greeks did.

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We may perceive the effects of metaphoric mapping but we do not necessarily experience the same physiological effect. Padel makes the analogy with the commercial field regarding the passion for spices in the early medieval period. This passion, in many cases, slowly disappeared in many parts of Europe, but the commercial trade routes and networks remained in place. The Ancient Greeks, according to Padel, did not distinguish literal from metaphoric meaning in the same way as we do. They often expressed their ideas through the medium of metaphor without thinking they were metaphors. Kittay (1987: 19) supports this view. A contemporary reader would construe the Homeric phrase the rosy-fingered dawn as metaphorical. However, the Ancient Greeks believed the dawn to be a goddess and Homer may have conceived this image as a literal one. With regard to love in Indo-European languages, it is clear that cultural models changed but parallel models both in serious intent and parody appeared to continue from Antiquity to modern times. An example of attitudes to change in the PAIN = LOVE model appeared to develop according to the following pattern: PAIN = CONTEMPT (Antiquity), PAIN = ESTEEM (Middle Ages), PAIN = UNDESIRABLENESS (Modern period). In the pre-Christian, hedonistic times of Ancient Greece, love was far from being considered as an object of suffering; rather, it was an attitude to be avoided at all costs and even held in contempt. This evidently changed completely in the medieval period under the strong influence of Christian thought. Suffering through love was a high ideal and perhaps the main objective. Good examples of this can be found in the poetry of Petrarch who personally suffered from unrequited love for a long period of his life. Since Chaucer was also influenced by the work of Petrarch, a comparison of the two poets reveals that Chaucer incorporated some of the latter’s metaphors into his own work. In modern times, pain induced by love is probably considered to be undesirable by most people, as reflected in many contemporary songs. An outcome of this is that the subservient models of love in the Middle Ages were often a reference to the authority of God and, as this slowly diminished, cultural models in the form of pain, etc., were modified through time. To a certain extent, however, courtly love has continued in modern Western society. As Burns (2001: 23) puts it: “the legacy of courtly love […] has been widely absorbed into American popular culture, attested variously in lovelorn laments of country-western song lyrics or in chivalrous valentines where beloved ladies are touted as having ultimate control over the male’s delicate heartstrings”. It is regarded more as a romantic type of love, similar to Kövecses’ distinction between ideal (romantic) and typical models in modern American society (1988: 56–83). Within this redefinition of courtly love, metaphor


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models such as LOVE = PAIN today are seen to be undesirable, whereas the medieval model was regarded in high esteem. The medieval courtly ideal was, for example, to suffer, as in the notion of unrequited love, and a form of conceptualization which was closely related to religious love. This is very different from the pre-Christian era in which the pain of love was actually held in contempt. The trend of the conceptual metaphor of pain has therefore gone through chronological phases of contempt, esteem and undesirability. It has continued to exist as a physiological model but in different forms. This raises the question of active and latent stages dependent on social attitudes of the historical period in question and their respective level of salience. A certain section of the language community may still believe in courtly ideals in which love does entail subservience and legal aspects, in which case the conceptual metaphor paths have not died out but the level of salience would be lower. The comic side of this development can be seen in modern productions of musicals such as “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood” in the production “Camelot”: (25)

Where are the simple joys of maidenhood? Where are all those adoring daring boys? Where’s the knight pining so for me? He leaps to death in woe for me? Oh where are a maiden’s simple joys?

However, the types of linguistic metaphors used by Chaucer in these models are less likely. The pain model has probably died out in the form of esteem but continues in another form. In this way, cultural symbols of love originating in Antiquity, such as Cupid’s arrows, have continued in love songs and Valentine cards today with changing forms of symbolisation. If we now turn to the aspect of internal semantic structures, the question arises as to the importance of frequency in relation to salience at any given point in time. A tentative suggestion here is that, although a higher level of frequency often correlates with synchronic and diachronic salience, as in the case of Traugott & Dasher’s (2002: 34 ff) model of the invited inferencing theory of semantic change outlined above, its frequency in the language community as a whole may not necessarily be an important factor in its interpretation or salience of a given text. If a given cultural context, for example, makes it clear to a reader that an innovative metaphor in a literary text refers to a particular context, it may have a relatively high frequency in the text in question but is probably not used by the public at large. Furthermore, it may not actually have a high frequency in the text but happens to be particularly salient regarding

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the contents. However, it may have a high frequency ration in comparison with other polysemes. So far, we have been considering salience to mean how “common” or how “strange-sounding” an item may appear in a language community. There are, however, different approaches as to its definition. In the field of diachronic prototype semantics, Geeraerts refers to salience as the prototypical weighting of an item in a given category. We are therefore taking into account the language’s internal semantics in this case. Semantic change can take place due to evolving structures in semasiology (polysemy) or onomasiology (synonymy). The former, for example, can take place through interlocking and overlapping readings of attributes and there are differences in structural weight as in the frequent loss of peripheral meanings (Geeraerts 1997: 23–24). The result is that certain meanings are likely to have a higher frequency compared to others in the same category and that patterns of semasiological load, as a term given to this type of feature, would indicate how definitions of words can evolve through time. It has been claimed that this prototypical approach to meaning change would provide dictionary users greater insight into the histories of words (Molina 2003: 1–22). To provide some answers on the diachronic salience of love metaphors using this approach, a considerable amount of additional corpus research on data frequency and meaning ratios would be needed. A number of possible patterns may, however, occur. The semasiological load of long-term metaphors would generally be expected to be high in order for metaphor paths to survive. A random search using the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse (CMEPV - University of Michigan: www.hti.umich.edu/c/cme) comes up with a number of results concerning some (but not all) of the items mentioned above. The term fyr (ex. 1) in the Canterbury Tales has 32 occurrences, 11 of which are linked to love. These statistics would need further verification with other corpora but, if it is correct, it means that the semasiological load (S. L.) compared to other metaphoric or non-metaphoric meanings in the category stands at approx. 33%. The term bond (ex. 2) has 19 occurrences, 10 of which are linked to love, and therefore an S. L. of approx. 50%. Tresor (ex. 3) has 16 occurrences with 4 linked to love and an S. L. of 25%. Yifte (ex. 4) has 10 occurrences with 5 linked to love and thus an S. L. of 50%. The nature of time-specific metaphors in this respect is a little more complex since they may be related to two different types of “within-culture” variation. On the one hand, they may be the result of the cultural context of the time, such as in the case of the servant in love in courtly love, or of individual innovation, as is possibly the case of statute. In the first item, the CMEPV


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cites the term servant in the Canterbury Tales as having 24 occurrences, 8 of which are linked to love, i. e. an S. L. of 33%. However, statute only has 3 occurrences, all of which are linked to the duty of physical love in marriage outlined above. On this basis, its S. L. would be 100%. This suggests that it could be a comic effect used by Chaucer and therefore a personal innovation. However, the term can be highly salient due to its comic effect, even though its frequency is very low. In order to have a true diachronic analysis, S. L.s of two historical periods would be required using comparable contexts and the whole referential range. Statute no doubt had a number of different uses during the Middle Ages and this particular use of the term probably has, in reality, a relatively low semasiological load. If it is simply a comic effect, it could be attributed to the type of peripheral meanings which Geeraerts (1997: 20) suggests is frequently lost during semantic change. The true relationship between frequency and semasiological load in diachronic salience undoubtedly requires further research.

12. Conclusions If we draw together the different threads discussed so far involving networking theory, how can we summarise principles of metaphor evolution within a cognitive framework? It does appear that a large part of our figurative language evolves in set directions. Many associated concepts are linked to base mapping procedures which act as “building blocks” for the development of metaphoric networks. An analysis of many base concepts reveals such common denominators in the form of conceptual metaphors. It is thus important to distinguish between a conceptual metaphor, such as LOVE = FIRE, and a linguistic metaphor, such as she is his latest flame. Both types of metaphor can be long or short-term. By “short-term” is also meant those diachronic paths of figurative language which do not necessarily last for ever. However, some metaphors, which are physiologically based, do appear to have an infinite characteristic such as LIFE IS A JOURNEY. These paths follow directions which are cognitively acceptable in a given conceptual environment, otherwise they will not generate future metaphors along the same lines. An original metaphor may lose its potential to create new metaphors if it does not fit into the conceptual system. This can happen through borrowing. An example is Humbley’s example of genetic “splicing” (2004: 199–212). This term originally came from American scientists who also used to use the term for splicing film in making their own home movies. This

Conceptual networking theory in metaphor evolution


was apparently wrongly translated into French épissure (used for the splicing of ropes) rather than into montage, which would have conveyed the original “splice” metaphor in English. The choice of the wrong concept in borrowing, perhaps due to a lack of knowledge about the source culture, would therefore prevent further metaphor creation taking place in the same direction. Given a specific conceptual environment, paths may be of long or short duration according to different social and cultural aspects. The fact that a path exists at a given point in time would suggest that it could also be potentially used at a time when it categorised as obsolete. We therefore have different phases of activity and dormancy which vary according to conceptual and linguistic metaphors. The former tend to change at a slower rate while the latter are logically far more varied. There may be an infinite number of linguistic paths linked to a conceptual metaphor. A feature which can often occur in conceptual metaphors is that the mapping procedure undergoes a change in collocations. We have seen that the notion of swelling was originally used in the anger metaphor in Old English. Swelling in the emotions has not disappeared but has tended to change to other emotions in English such as in the swelling of pride. Furthermore, an important factor in the two categories of conceptual and linguistic metaphors is the notion of salience. This is a feature which is hard to measure and appears to fluctuate with time. It is not always clear if a conceptual metaphor has completely died out or whether it would still form part of the conceptualization of a section of the language community. These models may be demonstrated by the networks of love metaphors which have been part of European literature since time immemorial. Present-day English metaphors, within the framework of long-term paths, can be traced back to English literature of the Middle Ages. Literary studies show that there have been links between English medieval literature and other European works at the time, which form part of our cultural heritage since the Roman and Greek epics of Antiquity. A comparison of metaphors between medieval and ancient languages via a Latinate route reveals the links and diachronic networks. At the same time, certain conceptual metaphors, depending on social and religious aspects of the time, tend to be more salient during one period rather than another. Such is the case of medieval courtly love and the conceptual metaphors of subservience or law which produce linguistic metaphors in Chaucer’s works that sound less salient today. Conceptual networking thus represents one theoretical framework in which the evolution of metaphor may be studied. It allows us to establish principles of regularity which depend on the different parameters discussed in this study. Although not all metaphor creation may be included in networking, this pro-


Richard Trim

cess probably covers a very large proportion of our everyday metaphors. As in the case of the analysis of love, it helps to explain where they have come from. This basic construct would no doubt serve as a useful tool for further research in the metaphor history of other semantic fields.

References Aitchison, Jean 1992 Chains, nets or boxes? The linguistic capture of love, anger and fear. In: Wilhelm G. Busse (ed.), Anglistentag, 25–38. Düsseldorf/Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. Allan, Kathryn 2003 A diachronic approach to figurative language. In: John Barnden (ed.), UCREL (University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language) Technical Papers, Vol 18, Lancaster. Beidler, Peter G. 1973 Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale and the Decameron. Italica 50: 266–284. Boardman, Phillip C. 1977 Courtly language and the strategy of consolation in the Book of the Duchess. English Literary History 44: 567–579. Burnley, J. D. 1980 Fine Amor: Its meaning and context. The Review of English Studies, New Series 31(122): 129–148. Burns, E. Jane 2001 Courtly love: who needs it? Recent feminist work in the medieval tradition. Signs 27: 23–57. Charteris-Black, Jonathon 2004 Corpus Approaches to Critical Metaphor Analysis. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. Chickering, Howard D. 1989 Beowulf. New York: Anchor Books. Clubb, Louise G. 1960 Boccaccio and the boundaries of love. Italica 37: 188–196. Cotton, Eleanor G. and John M. Sharp 1998 Figurative language in the evolution of the Spanish verb. Metaphor and Symbol 13: 205–229. Davenport, Tony 2004 Medieval Narrative. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Deignan, Alice 1997 Metaphors of desire. In: Keith Harvey and Celia Shalom (eds.), Language and Desire, 21–42. Milton Park, New York: Routledge. De Rougemont, Denis 1972 L’Amour et l’Occident. Paris: Librairie Plon.

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Edwards, Robert R. 1996 Source, context and cultural translation in the “Franklin’s Tale”. Modern Philology 94: 141–162. Fabiszak, Malgorzata 1998 A semantic analysis of emotion terms in Old English. Studia Anglica Posnaniensa 34: 133–146. Geeraerts, Dirk 1997 Diachronic Prototype Semantics: A Contribution to Historical Lexicology. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Geeraerts, Dirk and Stefan Grondelaers 1995 Looking back at anger: Cultural traditions and metaphorical patterns. In: John R. Taylor and Robert E. MacLaury (eds.), Language and the Cognitive Construal of the World, 153–180. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Gevaert, Caroline 2001 Anger in Old and Middle English: A ‘hot’ topic? In: Belgian Essays on Language and Literature, Belgian Association of Anglicists in Higher Education, University of Liège, Belgium, 89–101. Gevaert, Caroline 2002 The evolution of the lexical and conceptual field of ANGER in Old and Middle English. In: Javier E. Diaz Vera (ed.), A Changing World of Words: Studies in English Historical Semantics and Lexis, 275–299. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Goatly, Andrew 1997 The Language of Metaphors. London: Routledge. Hardy, Thomas [1874] (1974) Far from the Madding Crowd. London: Macmillan. Hardy, Thomas 1980 Loin de la Foule Déchaînée. Translated by Mathilde Zeys. Paris: Mercure de France. Hieatt, A. Kent and Constance Hieatt 1976 Chaucer: Canterbury Tales. A Bantam Dual-Language Book. New York: Bantam. Howard, Donald R. 1960 The conclusion of the Marriage Group: Chaucer and the human condition. Modern Philology 57: 223–232. Humbley, John 2004 Metaphor and secondary term formation. In: La Métaphore du Discours Général aux Discours Spécialisés, Cahier du Centre Interlangue d’Etudes en Lexicologie (2000–2003), 199–212. Paris: Université de Paris 7. Izard, Carroll and Sandra Buechler 1980 Aspects of consciousness and personality in terms of differential emotions theory. In: Robert Plutchik and Henry Kellerman (eds.), Emotion: Theory, Research and Experience Vol. 1, 165–187. New York: Academic Press.


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Jager, Eric 1990

Speech and the chest in Old English poetry: Morality or pectorality? Speculum 65: 845–859. Kaufhold, Shelley D. 1997 Ovid’s Tereus: Fire, birds, and the reification of figurative language. Classical Philology 92: 66–71. Kittay, Eva F. 1987 Metaphor: Its Cognitive Force and Linguistic Structure. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Kövecses, Zoltan 1988 The Language of Love. London/Toronto: Associated University Presses. Kövecses, Zoltan 1995 American friendship and the scope of metaphor. Cognitive Linguistics 6: 315–346. Kövecses, Zoltan 2005 Metaphor in Culture: Universality and Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kövecses, Zoltan 2006 Language, Mind and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lakoff, George 1987 Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson 1980 Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lakoff, George and Mark Turner 1989 More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lehrer, Adrienne 1985 The influence of semantic fields on semantic change. In: Jacek Fisiak (ed.), Historical Semantics and Historical Word-Formation, 283–296. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Matsuki, Keiko 1995 Metaphors of anger in Japanese. In: John R. Taylor and Robert E. MacLaury (eds.), Language and the Cognitive Construal of the World, 137–151. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Molina, Clara 2008 Historical dictionary definitions revisited from a prototype theoretical standpoint. Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics 6: 1–22. Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Online 2000– http://dictionary.oed.com Ortony, Andrew, Gerald L. Clore and Allan Collins 1988 The Cognitive Structure of Emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Padel, Ruth 1992 In and Out of the Mind: Greek Images of the Tragic Self. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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Quinn, Naomi and Dorothy Holland 1987 Culture and cognition. In: Naomi Quinn and Dorothy Holland (eds.), Cultural Models in Language and Thought, 3–40. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Radman, Zdravko 1997 Difficulties with diagnosing the death of a metaphor. Metaphor and Symbol 12: 149–157. Reddy, Michael J. 1977 The conduit metaphor: A case of frame conflict in our language about language. In: Andrew Ortony (ed.), Metaphor and Thought, 284–324. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Searle, John R. 1977 Metaphor. In: Andrew Ortony (ed.), Metaphor and Thought, 92–123. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Smith, Michael, Howard Pollio and Marian Pitts 1981 Metaphor as intellectual history: Conceptual categories underlying figurative usage in American English from 1675–1975. Linguistics 19: 911–935. Stern, Gustav [1931] (1968) Meaning and Change of Meaning with Special Reference to the English Language. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Sweetser, Eve 1990 From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphorical and Cultural Aspects of Semantic Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Thomson, Patricia 1959 The “Canticus Troili”: Chaucer and Petrarch. Comparative Literature 11: 313–328. Tissari, Heli 2003 LOVEscapes: Changes in Prototypical Senses and Cognitive Metaphors since 1500. (Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki, LXII.) Helsinki: Société Néophilologique. Traugott, Elizabeth 1985 “Conventional” and “dead” metaphors revisited. In: Wolf Paprotté and Rene Dirven (eds.), The Ubiquity of Metaphor, 17–56. (Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 29.) Amsterdam: Benjamins. Traugott, Elizabeth and Richard Dasher 2002 Regularity in Semantic Change. (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Trier, Jost 1931 Der deutsche Wortschatz im Sinnbezirk des Verstandes. Die Geschichte eines sprachlichen Feldes. Heidelberg: Winter. Trim, Richard 2007a Metaphor Networks: The Comparative Evolution of Figurative Language. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


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Trim, Richard 2007b The conceptualisation and translatability of metaphor in English literary works. In: Richard Trim and Sophie Alatorre (eds.), Through Other Eyes: The Translation of Anglophone Literature in Europe, 45–56. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Ullman, Stephen 1962 Semantics: An Introduction to the Science of Meaning. Oxford: Blackwell. Wierzbicka, Anna 1986 Human emotions: universal or culture-specific? American Anthropologist 88: 584–594. Wilkins, Ernest H. 1963 Boccaccio’s early tributes to Petrarch. Speculum 38: 79–87. Yu, Ning 1986 Metaphorical expressions of anger and happiness in English and Chinese. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 10: 59–92.

Cognitive historical approaches to emotions: Pride Małgorzata Fabiszak and Anna Hebda

Abstract Emotions are complex human experiences that have aroused much interdisciplinary interest. They have been studied by psychologists, historians and linguists. Stearns and Stearns (1988: 7) introduce a distinction between emotional experience and the sociopsychological construal of emotions, and go on to say that “it becomes increasingly obvious that emotional standards – what [we] the editors have urged be labelled ‘emotionology’ – change more rapidly and completely than emotional experience does”. Emotionology understood as a set of beliefs, scenarios or cognitive models for understanding and expressing emotions in socially transparent and acceptable ways is closely linked to values and is shared by a given community. Investigations of these links from a historical perspective are represented by several scholars: C. Stearns (1988) on the onset of emotional control in the Enlightenment; Gillis (1988) on love in Early Modern times and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; P. Stearns (1988) on the rise of sibling jealousy; and Demos (1996) on guilt and shame in Early New England. Within cognitive linguistics (CL) the lead in the study of emotions goes to Kövecses (1986, 1990, 1998), who in his numerous studies is setting trends in CL approaches to emotionology. Historical linguists have also shown steady interest in reconstructing emotional scenarios on the basis of the extant historical texts (notably Diller 1996, 2002a, 2002b). Some historical linguists have employed CL tools to the study of past emotionologies (Tissari 2001, 2003; Fabiszak 2001, 2002). This kind of work shows the mutual benefits for both disciplines that can result from conducting historical linguistic analyses within a cognitive framework. On the one hand, the reconstructed scenarios may show how the emphasis on different aspects of the construal of emotions changed over time as an effect of the change in social values. This social dimension of emotions seems to have been so far neglected in CL, as pointed out by Tissari (2006a). However, with the new stress on the socio-cultural part of the experiential bases of human conceptualisation of the world (Bernárdez 2007; Sinha 2005; Zlatev 2005) historical linguistic studies have much to contribute to CL. The present paper will be bi-partite. The first part will offer a revision of the stateof-the-art of cognitive historical approaches to emotions. The second part will present a case study of pride in medieval English. Old English data will come from the Toronto Corpus and Middle English data from the Helsinki Corpus. The analysis will be genre-specific and will utilize the methodology developed in Fabiszak and Hebda (2007) which is a cognitively informed lexico-grammatical analysis. We hope that the investigation will show how the scenario for pride in medieval times differed from the contemporary one and contribute to the better understanding of the metonymic sources of metaphorical mappings.


Małgorzata Fabiszak and Anna Hebda

1. Cognitive linguistics and the social dimension of language Cognitive linguistics originated as a strongly mentalistic approach focusing on the human conceptual system and attempting to incorporate the findings of cognitive psychology into linguistic theory. Its major premise has been that the cognitive processes discovered for perception and cognition in general should underlie those mental processes which are responsible for language comprehension and production. It rejected the Chomskyan claim about the existence of a language-specific module separate from other cognitive processes (e. g. Langacker 1987). Conceptual metaphor theory, a branch of cognitive linguistics, emphasized that abstract thinking is metaphorically based and that conceptual metaphors are bodily based. The most recent developments in cognitive linguistics call for introducing the social dimension into the investigation of conceptual semantics. Sinha (2005), for instance, proposes the notion of distributed cognition and stresses that meaning is not only constructed individually in the speaker’s or hearer’s private mental space, but that it is actually co-operatively constructed by discourse participants in a contextualised social, linguistic and extra-linguistic act of communication. Bernardez (2007) takes this proposal a step further and attempts to incorporate Bordieu’s notion of “habitus” into the theory of conceptualisation. He stresses the role of the meaning constructed in the socio-historical cultural process and calls such an enriched understanding of meaning “synergic cognition”. He summarises the views on cognition in the following diagram: – – – – –

“Autonomous” cognition (AC) AC + “body” ĺ embodied cognition (EC) EC + “situation” ĺ situated cognition (SC) SC + “other individuals/tools” ĺ distributed cognition (DC) DC + “socio-cultural historical development” ĺ synergic cognition (SC) (Bernardez 2007: 33)

A selection of papers published in Kristiansen et al. (2006) investigates the current applications and potential future areas of study originating from the cognitive linguistic approach. They all stress a need for empirical research testing the possibility of applying theoretical findings to real linguistic usage (see in particular Geeraerts 2006; Rohrer 2006; Gibbs and Perlman 2006 and Barnden 2006). One such possibility is offered by corpus-based studies, which investigate and describe patterns of behaviour of attested linguistic examples. In such

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analyses, based on historical linguistic corpora, it is possible also to retrieve some cultural knowledge, for example, in so far as text genres are identified. Text genres provide information on the text producer, text recipient and the goal that motivated text production, which all together combine to expand our perspective on the extra-linguistic, cultural context of word use. Conceptual metaphor theorists from the very start underscored the importance of culture in cognition. For example, Lakoff and Johnson (1980: 4–5) in their discussion of the conceptual metaphor argument is war and hypothetical argument is dance showed that different cultures facilitate the formation of different conceptual metaphors, which, in turn, result in various forms of social interaction. Despite this claim, most conceptual metaphor theory analyses that we are aware of have focussed primarily on the conceptual representation of meanings, proposing idealised cognitive models, frames or scenarios focussing on the role conceptual metaphor plays in these structures. It seems that the major aim of these analyses has been to emphasize the role of conceptual metaphor in the understanding of abstract notions in order to substantiate the claim of its ubiquity, not to elucidate the meaning of these notions as such.1 For example Lakoff and Johnson (1980), Lakoff and Kövecses (1987), Kövecses (1986, 2000) adapt the stimulus – emotion labelling – emotional reaction scenario for understanding emotions, describe the possible causes of particular emotions and the physiological (even if folk theoretical) reactions to emotional arousal, but the thrust of their analyses is on the metaphorical conceptualisation of these abstract notions. They do not try to situate their investigations in a broader social or historical context. They neither elaborate on the social function of metaphorically understood emotions, nor on their historical grounding.2 More recent work by Kövecses (2005) does indeed do justice to the role of culture and cultural variation in the study of metaphor. But it is not aimed at explaining the meaning of emotion concepts. Emotion concepts are considered as structured by conceptual metaphors and the focus of the study is not on how our understanding of culture and metaphor contribute to our understanding of emotions, but on which aspects of conceptual metaphors are most likely to show cultural variation. Our belief is that historical linguistics, with its longstanding tradition of analysing the intertwining of the external and internal history of a language can enhance conceptual metaphor theory-informed research with respect to these 1 Murphy (1997) criticizes conceptual metaphor theory analysts for not attempting non-metaphorical explanation of polysemy. 2 Taylor (2002) also criticizes conceptual metaphor theory for its complete ahistoricism.


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two aspects. The present paper will focus on emotions. First we will present a short and necessarily selective review of diachronic linguistic approaches to emotions and then present a case study of pride in Old English.

2. A selective review of historical linguistic approaches to emotions Geeraerts and Grondelaers (1995) argue for a historical perspective in culture oriented linguistic studies and present their analysis of the grounding of the contemporary conceptual metaphor emotion is a fluid in a container in the humour theory originating in Hippocrates, developed by Galen and popular in medicine as well as common knowledge of the functioning of human body and personality through the Middle Ages and Renaissance (see, for example, Ben Johnson’s Induction to Every man out of his humour). They also point out that the status of certain conceptualisations may shift from literal – reflecting the workings of nature as it was understood at a given point in history, to metaphorical – when the previously held theories become undermined or falsified.3 Diller (1996 and later publications) stresses the importance of genre in the study of emotions. Kövecses (2000) also presents a genre-sensitive study of love in popular glossy magazines, but the majority of analyses in his book refer to American English in general. He does, however, identify the sources of his evidence, i. e. interviews conducted by his students with white middle-class Americans. Diller has proposed a number of historical analyses of emotion words, such as joy, mirth, wynne in Middle English and in Old English (1996), or the shift of meaning of happy between the 14th and 19th centuries (Diller 2008). In the former investigation he notices that the words show some genre specificity and puts forward a tentative hypothesis concerning Anglo-Saxon emotional culture. In the latter he observes the shift from “the favourable external conditions one is in due to chance” through “conditions one actually values” to “valuing the conditions one is under”. Gevaert (2002) investigated the lexical field of anger in Old English and combined historical semantic, prototype semantic and cognitive semantic perspectives. She attempted to show to what extent the conceptualisation of anger was culturally determined. She discovered that wrath appeared in biblical texts (with one exception, when it appeared in the Lives of Saints) and was most 3 Zinken (2004) in his discussion of BartmiĔski (e. g. 1999) shows that what the ethnographers may consider symbolic representations of gods, for the participants of a given culture may be quite literally gods themselves.

Cognitive historical approaches to emotions


frequently attributed to God. She also noticed that 70% of anger lexemes used before 850 AD alliterated so that their choice could have been stylistically rather than purely semantically related. She also found out that in the period 850–950 AD both type and token frequency of the conceptual domain of heat and wrong emotion increased significantly, while fierceness and affliction, common in the earlier period, decreased. She linked this development to the influence of the translations from Latin begun by King Alfred and continued by his followers (such translations constituted 84 % of the corpus). Between 950–1050 Gevaert observed a reversal of the trend, which she called a “redressing of the balance” (Gevaert 2002: 276), and related it to the decrease in the number of translations from Latin and an increase in the number of original vernacular texts. The conclusions from Gevaert (2002) are further developed in Geeraerts and Gevaert (2008). They analyse the compounds with Old English KHRUWH and PǀG and various lexical realizations of the concept of anger. Their results stress the importance of onomasiological studies, which are indispensible for the understanding of the embodied nature of metaphors as well as their cultural variants. Tissari has conducted numerous conceptual-metaphor-informed historical linguistic studies of emotions. For example, Tissari (2006a) investigated the cognitive scenario of VKDPH in the period 1418–1991. She identified certain physiological reactions which gave rise to metonymies, e. g. interference with normal mental functioning (stress, forgetfulness) for shame, increased heart rate for shame and redness in the face for shame. She noted that metonymies facilitated the construction of metaphors, e. g. shame is an illness/a physical injury and shame is in the front/face/heart. She also emphasized that emotions should be treated both as a cognitive and a social phenomenon. In her study on pride, Tissari (2006b) analyzes the change in its conceptualisation in the same period as she did for shame. She discovers a shift of meaning from the moral domain to the emotion domain. In the earliest investigated period the lexeme denotes a sin, later it is considered as either vice or virtue, to become more clearly an emotion term in PDE. Tissari notes changes not only in its status and evaluation, but also in the possible triggers of pride. One interesting theme is that of military pride, present already in Shakespeare, and, related to it, national pride, which seems to have become one of the three most frequent types in the 19th century and today. In the present study we will try to shed some light on the behaviour of the words from the lexical field of SULGH in Old English. Before we do this, though, we would like to summarise what methods historical linguists have used in


Małgorzata Fabiszak and Anna Hebda

their study of emotions. First, all the semantic studies were based on historical language corpora, as, for obvious reasons, they could not be intuition-guided to the extent that studies concerning Present-Day English are. They are not so much concept-based asking how a given emotion is expressed in language or to paraphrase Kövecses (2000) “How do Americans conceptualise love?”, but rather they concentrate on particular lexical items (e. g. onomasiological studies of Tissari [2003, 2006a and 2006b] on love, shame, pride; Fabiszak and Hebda [2007] on shame and guilt) or on lexical fields of words referring to a particular “universal” emotion (e. g. more semasiologically oriented studies Diller [1996] on joy; Fabiszak [2001] on joy, Fabiszak [2002] on anger; Gevaert [2002] on anger). All of these historical cognitive studies conducted genre-sensitive collocational analysis to arrive at emotional scenarios and to posit the metonymies and the metaphors structuring them. Finally, they all attempted to link the observed changes with the socio-cultural background. Some also indicated how the described conceptualisations might influence the socialisation pattern of the period.

3. The selection of pride lexemes and data source The original design was to investigate the lexeme pryd*/pryt*/prut*/prud*4 in its various forms in the Helsinki Corpus of English Texts: Diachronic and Dialectal (henceforth Helsinki Corpus) and to describe its meaning and the role of the concept in Anglo-Saxon society. The choice of the corpus was dictated by its genre division, and also by the results of our previous study into shame and guilt which has yielded very promising results (Fabiszak and Hebda 2007). However, there were only 2 occurrences of pryd*/pryt*/prut*/prud* in the Old English part of the Helsinki Corpus. Thus, we consulted The Dictionary of Old English (henceforth DOE) Corpus, which rendered 45 results. As a result, our hypotheses concerning the use of the lexeme pryd*/pryt*/prut*/prud* will be based on the DOE Corpus. We have also consulted the Old English Thesaurus for related words and extended our search with the three most common synonyms: oferhygd*/oferhyd*, wlenc*/wlanc*/wlonc*, and RIHUPƝW* glossed as ‘pride, haughtiness, arrogance, vainglory’. The qualitative analysis of the results of the searches in the Helsinki Corpus suggested gielp*/gelp*/gylp*/ gilp* ‘boast’ as an additional, metonymically motivated word for pride. In this way, our study was originally planned as an onomasiological investigation of 4 The wildcard * stands for all the potential endings of the given form. We have built our analyses on all word categories: nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.

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pride, in part concerning the Old English (OE) period, shifted towards a limited semasiological study of selected lexemes denoting pride. Before, however, we analyse the corpus data, we will turn to the Oxford English Dictionary (henceforth OED) to see what it reveals about the etymology of the lexemes pride < OE SUшG, yelp < OE gielp and wlonk < OE wlanc.

4. The development of senses of pride, yelp and wlonk as attested in the Oxford English Dictionary The earliest readings attested in OED of the term SUшG are clearly negative and involve (i) ‘a high, esp. an excessively high, opinion of one’s own worth or importance which gives rise to a feeling or attitude of superiority over others; inordinate self-esteem’ (including “the first of the seven deadly sins”), (ii) ‘arrogant, haughty, or overbearing behaviour, demeanour, or treatment of others, esp. as exhibiting an inordinately high opinion of oneself’, as well as (iii) ‘magnificence, splendour; pomp, ostentation, display’, as illustrated below: (i) (ii)


OE Homily: Be Biscophadum (Cleo. B.xiii) in A. S. Napier Wulfstan (1883) 178 Se ðe for his prydan gode nele hyran. OE tr. Chrodegang of Metz Regula Canonicorum (Corpus Cambr. 191) lxxix. 323 And eow gebyrað þæt ge framion swiðor þonne ge wealdon mid pryton. OE tr. Chrodegang of Metz Regula Canonicorum (Corpus Cambr. 191) lii. 281 And gif reafes pryto synn nære, nateshwon sanctus Petrus an his ærendgewryte wifum ne styrde reafa wlences, þa he þus cwæð, ‘Ne gescryde ge eow mid deorwurðum reafe.’

Sense (ii) has been widely discussed in relation to the morality plays of the 14th century, when it was considered an attempt to undermine the God-given social hierarchy. This idea will be discussed in more detail in Section 7 of this paper. The first attestation of a positive sense of the lexeme pride dates back to the 13th century and reads (iv) ‘honour, glory’: (iv)

c1275 (?a1200) /$‫ڻ‬$021 Brut (Calig.) 4176 Scullen alle mine Bruttes mid baldere prute liðen to Lundene.

This sense will be elaborated on later in a terms of military and national pride (Sections 5, 6 and 7).


Małgorzata Fabiszak and Anna Hebda

The 14th century witnesses a considerable extension of the core meaning of pride, which, more and more often, seems to pertain to an outward display of one’s affluence or prominence. The term in question now comes to cover (v) ‘a consciousness of what befits, is due to, or is worthy of oneself or one’s position; self-respect; self-esteem, esp. of a legitimate or healthy kind or degree’, (vi) ‘a person of whom, or thing of which, any person or group of people is proud; that which causes a feeling of pride in its possessor; (hence) the foremost, best, or most distinguished of a class, country, etc.’, (vii) ‘love of display or ostentation’, (viii) ‘magnificent, splendid, or ostentatious adornment or ornamentation’, (ix) ‘proud or exalted position or status’, and (x) ‘vitality, mettle, or spirit in an animal, esp. a horse’, as follows from the following: c1325 (c1300) Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig. A. 11) 3393 9RUìH EUXWRQVQROGHXRUSUXWHDIWHUìHHUOGR9RUKHQDVQR‫ݤ‬WNLQJ ìHUXRUH ìHZRUVHKRPFRPWR. (vi) c1330 (?a1300) Arthour & Merlin (Auch.) (1973) 641 þe deuels..fel out of heuen Wiþ her pride, Lucifer. (viii) c1350 How Good Wife taught her Daughter (Emmanuel) 108 Mikel schame beo hem wourth..þat maket here lordes pouere with here michele pride. (ix) a1393 GOWER Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) IV. 1313 The Sadles were of such a Pride..So riche syh sche nevere non. (x) a1300 in C. Brown Eng. Lyrics 13th Cent. (1932) 70 þeyh he were so riche mon as henry vre kyng, And al so veyr as absalon..Al were sone his prute a-gon, hit nere on ende wrþ on heryng. (xi) c1330 (?c1300) Bevis of Hampton (Auch.) 2161 þat hors..wente in to þe kourt wel kof And neide & made miche pride. (v)

As regards the OE gielp (‘vainglory, pride’ = OS gelp ‘defiant or arrogant speech’, OHG MHG gelph, gelf ‘loud crying, outcry, cheerfulness, exuberance’, ON. gjalp ‘?boasting, noise of the sea’), since the very beginning, i. e. approximately the 8th century, the term is attested in the sense ‘boasting, vainglorious speaking’ (now obsolete), as in (i) or (ii) below: (i) (ii)


In the 14th century another (closely related and likewise obsolete) reading develops, namely ‘an object of boasting’:

Cognitive historical approaches to emotions




Beginning with the 16th century, the lexeme can be interpreted as ‘a cry characteristic of dogs and some other animals, resembling a bark but distinguished from it by being sharp and shrill’, that sense, however, being of no significance for the purpose of the present paper. The last attestations of the relevant senses of the term date back to the 15th century. The OE wlanc, wlonc (related to OS. wlank) is ambiguous to a certain extent, for its negative (‘pride, proud, haughty’) as well as positive (‘rich, splendid, fine, magnificent’) readings appear in English at approximately the same time: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)


In the 14th century the meaning of wlonc is extended to cover the sense ‘rich in moisture, rank, lush’, as in: (v)

1398 TREVISA Barth. De P. R. XI . xi. (Tollem. MS.), Snow..norische and fede good herbes and make hem wlonke [orig. impinguit; ed. 1495 cranke; ed. 1535 ranke].

A century later the lexeme is attested denoting ‘a fair or beautiful one’: (vi)

?a1400 Morte Arth. 3338, I went to that wlonke, and wynly hire gretis.

Now obsolete, the term dies out in the 16th century; however different senses are lost gradually. In the sense ‘pride, proud, haughty’, wlonk is last attested in the 14th century. Let us now turn to the corpus analysis.

5. A corpus analysis of the pride lexemes in Old English The corpus-based analysis presented below differs from that based on the OED in that it attempts to show some genre sensitivity as postulated by Diller (1996). Unlike a dictionary, which concentrates on individual words and treats their senses separately from other words and their senses (which is due to the


Małgorzata Fabiszak and Anna Hebda

traditional alphabetical order of dictionary entries), the analysis below, while analyzing uses of a number of words, aims at combining these analyses into a coherent interpretation of the meaning of the concept of pride. The first step in these investigations is an examination of the genre distribution of the selected lexemes. The genre distribution in the Helsinki Corpus of all the 5 words for the Old English period is given in Table 1 below.


OE II (850–950)

OE III (950–1050)

OE IV (1050–1150)

35‫ 'ܡ‬35‫ܡ‬7 35Nj7 35Nj' /HJDOWH[WVDQGKLVWRULHV 5HOLJLRXVDQGSKLORVRSKLFDO )LFWLRQDQGWUDYHORJXH 2)(5+ estimation of risks; obedience to God Always, potentially (21) > sin, vice Always, potentially (43) > self-censure

Calmness Anxiety Excitement Respect

Sometimes (4) No occurrences (0) No occurrences (0) Sometimes (142)


Sadness Love Hate Hope



HCE (1500–1710) Always, potentially (115) > good fortune; virtue Usually (31) Always, potentially (498) > duty, virtue Always (62) Always, potentially (221) > goal/plan, wish/request Always, potentially (211) > estimation of risks; obedience to God Always, potentially (44) > sin, vice Always, potentially (104) > reproach, censure Usually (5) Always (2) Never (19) Sometimes (71)

FROWN (1991) Always, potentially (120) > positive evaluation Always (55) Always (528) > basic need; sex Always (93) Always, potentially (283) > (good) prediction Always, potentially (239) > estimation of risks

FLOB (1991) Always, potentially (188) > positive evaluation Always (73) Always (478) > basic need; sex Always (68) Always, potentially (342) > (good) prediction Always, potentially (177) > estimation of risks

Always, potentially (84) > self-esteem Always, potentially (36) > (moral) regret / censure Usually (33) Always (53) Usually (85) Sometimes (190)

Always, potentially (74) > self-esteem Always, potentially (38) > (moral) regret / censure Always (44) Always (101) Usually (115) Sometimes (180)


Heli Tissari

Generalizing from Table 2, there seem to be four kinds of lexical groups: (a) In the first set, all the relevant words always seem to name an emotion. The only entry in this group is “hate”. (b) In the second set, the whole lexical group is always potentially connected with an emotion, but may be used not so much to talk about an emotion, as for other purposes. This group includes “happiness”, “hope”, “fear”, “love”, “pride”, and “shame”. It is particularly interesting from the point of view of metonymy: some element of the emotion may be foregrounded so as to become another sense of a word or lexical group, or vice versa. Example (4) comes from the HC and shows how the adjective proud is used for moral evaluation: (4)

… ther was never any of them proud, covetouse, nor a traitor … (Forman, Autobiography and Personal Diary [BIA FORMAN 3])

(c) In the third set, the status of the lexical groups as “labels for emotions” is different in Early Modern English and Present-Day English. This set includes “sadness”, “calmness”, “anxiety”, and “excitement”, the last three of which are quite rare in the Early Modern English data, if they occur at all. In the Early Modern English data, “excitement” is only understood in a physical sense (example 5).8 “Sadness” always stands for an emotion in Present-Day English, but some of the Early Modern English examples call for other interpretations; the OED helps us to find relevant senses. (5)

We have found by Experiment, That a vigorous and well excited piece of Amber will draw, not onely the powder of Amber, but less minute fragments of it. (HCE: Boyle, Electricity & Magnetism [SCIO BOYLE 17])

(d) In the fourth set we have “respect” which maintains its status as sometimes naming an emotion, sometimes not. It should be noted, however, that some of its Early Modern English senses are no longer current in Present-Day English. 4. On the desirability of emotions 4.1. The desirability of an emotion and the desirability of its expression Table 2 suggests that one may discuss both the desirability of an emotion per se, and whether it is desirable to express an emotion. It may be desirable to talk 8

‘To set in motion, stir up’, ‘to induce electric or magnetic activity in (a substance)’ (OED to excite v.).

English words for emotions and their metaphors


about “happiness” when no particular happiness is felt, but there is a need to emphasize one’s positive attitude, or to evaluate something positively. Example (6) attests willingness: (6)

Some oil companies would be happy to run the product through their refineries, although ethanol producers, undoubtedly, would object. (FROWN: Chicago Tribune [B07: 23])

Similarly, “fear” or “hope” may be employed to talk about the future without any (strong) presence of the corresponding emotion. Although “hope” is a positive, and “fear” a negative emotion, an accurate prediction can be much more valuable than a faked positive emotion (cf. example 2). “Pride” and “shame” can receive both “positive” and “negative” readings, depending on whether they are understood to refer to something “healthy” (‘proper self-esteem’, ‘sense of right and wrong’), or something that is “bad” (sin-related readings are common for both in the Early Modern English data). However, it may be desirable to condemn what is bad (cf. example 4, Tissari 2006a & b). In this set of data, “love” mainly appears desirable, because people expect it from themselves and others and even search for it. Consider examples (7) and (8), respectively. Example (7) also involves (sadness,) “hope” and “happiness” in what one may term an outburst of emotions: the author is balancing between expressing sadness at the parting, and predicting good things for the departer, both being tied to the suggestion that the author loves the departer. Emotions occur not only on their own, but in (partly predictable) 9 clusters as well. (7)

I must bewail my one [= own] misfortune in parting with one that I soe dearly love as I doe her but I doe much hope she will be very happy in a good husband. (HCE: Elizabeth Oxinden’s letter [CORP EOXINDEN 333])


Then three girls competed for the man and another couple, Pauline and Glen, reported back from Spain. At first madly in love, she’d gone off him since the last series. (FLOB: Daily Express [C04:82])


It would be interesting to develop such predictions, but I will not attempt it in this article. Tomkins (1963: 184–260) has an interesting discussion of how shame combines with what he calls other “affects”.


Heli Tissari

4.2. Categorizing corpus data To understand better the semantics of emotion words, this section suggests that on the one hand, emotions have something like a basic value on a “good”versus-“bad” scale, while on the other hand, further conditions also exist for the desirability of the emotion. For example, returning to the previous, “love” tends to be evaluated positively in the data, but in example (8) its initial expression does not match its later disappearance. This in turn is socially undesirable. The idea of Table 3 is that further conditions for the desirability of an emotion can be roughly divided into religious, social and emotional conditions. In other words, it underlines that each of the emotions may be evaluated in terms of religion or social interaction, rather than on how it feels. The generalisations presented in the table represent my view of the occurrences of each lexical group in the data, after analysing it for previous studies and conducting a final overview for this article. The aim is to assess which of these conditions is the most predominant. The criteria are my notes on what kind of conceptual metaphors, if any, occur with each lexeme, and what other kinds of expressions occur within their close context (e. g. evaluative adjectives such as terrible, verbal forms such as paralyzing, and expressions concerning the cause of the emotion or its expected future outcome). In addition, text type and genre certainly affect the result. It is therefore good to take into account that the Early Modern English data contains plenty of correspondence. Table 3. Estimation on a scale from 1 to 3 (Is this emotion desirable? 1 = yes, 2 = sometimes, 3 = no). Conditions of desirability: religious = R: X is (un)desirable depending on religious judgment; social = S: X is (un)desirable depending on social judgement; emotional = E: X is (un)desirable depending on how good/ bad it feels to its experiencer. Emotion Happiness Sadness Love Hate Hope Fear Pride Calmness Anxiety Excitement Respect

EModE 1 (S) 3 (E) 1 (S) 3 (R) 1 (S) 2 (E) 3 (R) 1 (S) 3 (R) – 1 (S)

PDE 1 (S) 3 (E) 1 (E) 3 (E) 1 (S) 3 (E) 1 (S) 1 (S) 3 (E) 1 (E) 1 (S)

English words for emotions and their metaphors


It is useful at this point to discuss a few examples in order to illustrate the conditions of desirability. Firstly, note that Table 3 is closely connected to Table 2 and several of the examples above. The claim that the desirability of “happiness” is above all social is based on it being used in contexts such as examples (6) and (7), to indicate a positive attitude towards someone or something, either by suggesting that one wishes them to be happy, is happy for or about them, or that it makes the writer happy to do something for them. That “sadness” in turn is more emotional is suggested by it being used to describe how people feel about something, e. g. death in example (9), or hearing something in example (10): (9)

Here dined with me also Mrs. Batters, poor woman, now left a sad widow by the drowning of her husband the other day. (HCE: Samuel Pepys, The Diary [DIARY PEPYS VII, 417])


I’m sad to hear that, Tim. (FLOB: Curtin, The Plastic Tomato Cutter [K19: 53])

Although example (10) comes from a context which discusses religious issues, the usage of “sadness” in the data does not indicate that it would have religious senses clearly separate from its other senses. The OED suggests one such sense, ‘firmness of faith’, existed until the 16th century, but this sense does not noticeably intermingle with the sense of ‘feeling sorrowful’ in the data.10 In contrast, the Early Modern English data on “pride” and “shame” constantly discusses sin and vice alongside any potential emotional experience, which is why these are characterized as (un)desirable depending on religious judgment. More surprisingly, the usage of “hate” in the Early Modern English data appears to be conditioned by religion. It suggests a set of religious guidelines as regards whom or what to hate. Consider examples (11) and (12). (11)

I defie the deuill, worship him? fie vpon him, I hate him with all my hart. (HCE: Gifford, A Handbook on Witches and Witchcraft [HANDO GIFFORD B2R])


And if thou verely beleeuve it, thou mayest thereby thynke and learne howe muche our sauyour and hys father both doeth hate sinne. (HCE: Fisher, Sermons [SERM FISHER 1,398])


Interestingly, the speaker in example (10) is sad to hear that someone no longer goes to Mass, which may suggest more ‘firmness of faith’ on his side. However, I doubt whether any native speaker of English would give ‘firmness of faith’ as a sense of sad(ness).


Heli Tissari

The reason why “love” is categorized as socially desirable in the Early Modern English data is that it suggests a strong sense of duty alongside any emotion. “Anxiety” is very tentatively marked as religiously conditioned in the Early Modern English data, where it is only attested twice, once in a philosophical work, and on another occasion in a religious context with the adjective calm (example 13): (13)

[He] spoke of his conversion to God as a thing now grown up in him to a setled and calm serenity. He was very anxious to known [sic] my Opinion of a Death-Bed Repentance. (HCE: Burnet, Some Passages of the Life and Death of … John, Earl of Rochester [BIO BURNETROC 140])

Example (14) shows how “calmness” may be socially desirable. (14)

There had been frequent rows about this issue before their marriage, but Veronica had been hoping that their new status as husband and wife would alleviate tensions and either make John a calmer and more considerate person or give her the poise she needed to put up with his behaviour in a more gracious manner. (FLOB: Pfeiffer, How to Cope with Splitting Up [F07: 14])

Again, the lexical groups may be divided into several sets: (a) Firstly, some of them primarily appear to serve a social, or social-communicative, function. This mainly applies to the desirable “happiness”, “hope”, “calmness”, and “respect”, but since “fear” is also used in “polite” phrases (e. g. I fear [that] X), it could be included as well. The way in which these words serve a social function varies, however. “Happiness” and “hope”, which are used in wishes, among other things, are linguistic markers of a positive attitude towards the reader, while “calmness” is necessary for social interaction to be successful (that is why people sometimes need to calm down). “Respect” may be used like “happiness” and “hope”, for example in formulaic expressions in letters, but it also concerns social hierarchies. (b) Secondly, two undesirable emotions, “sadness” and “fear”, appear to be evaluated mainly on the basis of how (bad) they feel to their experiencers, even if “fear” comes very close to primarily serving a social, or social-communicative function in predicting risks in order to negotiate plans of action, for example (cf. example 2). This second group is particularly interesting when seen in contrast to sets (c) and (d), where the Early Modern English data attests

English words for emotions and their metaphors


a strong religious dimension. There, too, “fear” is on the border-line, because the concept of “fear of God” is fairly strong in Early Modern English, and is considered something desirable. To nevertheless include Early Modern English “fear” in category (b) can be motivated by the fact that many Early Modern English texts which attest “fear” discuss imminent danger of death, which creates a strong emotional effect. The risks predicted in the Present-Day English data also include serious threats to people’s health and lives alongside lighter motives, and would, if realized, potentially trigger strong undesirable emotions in the experiencers of “fear”. Lastly, while “fear” is a dynamic state between the present and the anticipated future, there is less inherent movement in “sadness”, which is presented as a stable emotional state triggered by a past event (cf. section 7). (c) Thirdly, the data suggests that both “pride” and “shame” move from an Early Modern English religious to a Present-Day English social domain. The distinction is not trivial, because it affects the whole meaning of each, and the meaning of “pride” even more than the meaning of “shame”. Both traverse from ‘sin, violation of God’s command’ -related senses to more secular but nevertheless socially conditioned, rather than purely emotional, senses. This is, however, a tentative claim. It is also true that both “pride” and “shame” are more emotional in Present-Day English than in Early Modern English, and consequently, there is clear overlap between categories (c) and (d). (d) Fourthly, “hate” and “anxiety” seem to move from an Early Modern English religious to a Present-Day English emotional domain. The data on “anxiety” is too small to make anything but a tentative claim, but it suggests that it is human to be anxious, whereas God experiences total control (example 15). (15)

So then thou seest how many things that Man wanteth. For often he must stand in need of Necessaries, he must be subject to great Anxieties … (HCE: Preston’s Boethius [PHILO BOETHPR 126])

Present-Day English “anxiety” has a strong projection to future action, because people tend to be anxious about something they wish to work for or to prevent. Such future action may, of course, be desirable (example 16). (16)

He carried a suitcase and seemed anxious to catch the train for Kansas City. (FROWN: Trust West [N26: 13])

As for “hate”, the Early Modern English data is in fact ambiguous: while “hate” is a bad thing as such, it is nevertheless acceptable, even desirable, to hate that


Heli Tissari

which is bad, in a religious sense. In other words, an ideal world would exclude bad things, which makes “hate” a bad signal, in that it is a signal for a non-ideal world. However, assuming that we know this world is not ideal, it is good for us to hate where the world is particularly bad. In doing so, we in fact identify with God, who hates sin. To code both “anxiety” and “hate” as undesirable emotions in Early Modern English underlines their conceptualization as results of the Fall. (e) Fifthly, Table 3 proposes a separate category for “love”, which tends to be desirable and which, in spite of religious elements, appears to be a social matter in Early Modern English, because its expectancy regulates social conduct. In other words, while it was morally and religiously wrong not to love one’s family and friends in the Early Modern English period, the assessment of each person’s behaviour had social consequences (cf. Tissari forthcoming). The weakness of this claim is that the same could be said to apply to Early Modern English “pride” and “shame”. However, “love” as a social bond appears to be more fundamental than “pride” and “shame”. In brief, if everyone is assumed to have “fallen”, then to be accused in terms of either “pride” or “shame” does not constitute a criterion for excluding someone from the community, unless their transgression is considered particularly grave. In contrast, the answer to the question “whom should I love” is also an answer to the question “to whom am I responsible”, which is also quite practical on an everyday basis (example 17 below). It involves the idea that if I fail my responsibilities, I should be ashamed. The reason may then be that I have been too self-centred, i. e., proud. (17)

[Formulaic at the end of a letter:] My best love and service tendred to your Lordship, I rest / Your very loving brother and servant, Rich. Ebor. (CEECS: 1666 Richard Sterne [Cosin] [RSTERNE II, 157])

As for Present-Day English “love”, while it is still very much social as well as emotional, there is more emphasis on its emotion-like qualities. (f) Sixthly and lastly, “excitement”, which appears desirable, for example, because it occurs together with such words as happy and to enjoy (with pleased in example 18). It is a different category, because in the present Early Modern English data, it is not an emotion at all. The OED nevertheless records emotional occurrences of “excitement” in Early Modern English. (18)

He looked pleased and excited to see them. (FROWN: McMillan, Waiting to Exhale [K13: 34])

English words for emotions and their metaphors


5. Reification and personification of emotions A fundamental claim of cognitive linguistics is that emotions are conceptualized in terms of metaphors. On a general level, this section discusses how frequently such metaphors are realized when people write about emotions using an emotion word. It is then a more specific issue whether these metaphors reify or personify emotions. The understanding of conceptual metaphor is rather broad here, accepting such metaphors as in love (example 8), in the spirit of Lakoff and Johnson (1980). Three basic kinds of metaphors are included under the rubric of “reification”: entity metaphors, substance metaphors, and metaphors of containment, which include both the emotion being contained somewhere, and the emotion as a container. A basic finding is that reifications naming actual objects are not very common. In other words, emotions may be discussed as if they were physical objects – one may refer to issues such as weight, size or distance –, but metaphors like love is a chair or happiness is a table are rare (cf. Szwedek 2007). The category “personification” includes instances in which a concept is presented in terms of human-like thought or action, for example as attacking someone (an opponent), but very explicit personifications are difficult to find in the data. This finding is contrary to an educated assumption that it is easy for people to personify emotions. While this may be true, personification of emotions seems not to be frequent. Expressions which primarily imply a (natural or physical) force have been excluded from Table 4, because they are not always easy to distinguish from either reification or personification. In general, the metaphors operate on a fairly abstract level, and can be signalled by a single word such as give (entity), increase (substance), in (containment), or attend (personification). Table 4 shows that not every emotion word goes with a metaphor, let alone a particular type of metaphor. In the data, the average per corpus is between 10% and 20% of the tokens in an emotion-related lexical group attesting a reification, while personifications are much less frequent. This is the reason for choosing the threshold value of 10 %. Note that the analysis does not exclude any instances of the words belonging to each lexical group, although these may have senses other than the emotional sense which we are mostly interested in.


Heli Tissari

Table 4. Are the concepts expressed by these words reified or personified? R = reified in at least 10% of the cases (entity, substance and container metaphors), P = personified in at least 10% of the cases. Lexical group Happiness Sadness Love Hate Hope Fear Pride Shame Calmness Anxiety Excitement Respect





R – R R R R RP R R – – R

R – R – – R RP R R P – R

R – R R R R – R – R R R

– – R R R R R R – R – R

To discuss Table 4 in more detail, the lexical groups are again divided into different categories. In the following, I will use the verb reify to refer to an R in the table (“reified in at least 10% of the cases”), and the verb personify to refer to a P in the table (“personified in at least 10% of the cases”), not in an absolute sense. (a–b) “Fear”, “love”, “shame”, and “respect” are reified in all the corpora, “respect” particularly heavily in CEECS which reifies it in six cases out of ten. This finding for “respect” results from the noun respect occurring in set phrases where it does not refer to an emotion (in all respects), and can be contested by restricting the metaphoricity of the preposition in. “Fear” is different, because it is more clearly an emotion. It is often conceptualized in terms of quantity (great fears) or containment (in fear). Thus in fact these are two different categories: (a) reification may be very typical of an emotion word, or (b) it may result from polysemy. “Love” and “shame” are closer to “fear” than to “respect”. The HC data provides some potential for adding a P for “shame”, because it contains a sermon which repeats the phrase (19)

I speak it to your shame (SERM LATIMER 27)

which could be interpreted as speaking to people’s sense of shame personified. It nevertheless seems more natural to interpret it in terms of causation.

English words for emotions and their metaphors


(c) “Happiness”, “hate”, and “hope” are each reified in three corpora, which suggests that these emotions are characterized by reification, but less so than “fear” and “shame”, in particular in Early Modern English. In two cases out of three, the corpus which contains no instances of reification is HC. Considering the text types included in the corpora one could say that informal Early Modern English, such as contained in private letters, is closer to Present-Day English in this regard. However, the matter is not as simple as that. “Hate” is not reified in HC, because the verb to hate is more frequently found there than the noun hate/hatred. “Hope” is not reified in HC because it tends to occur in letters in this corpus (to hope), but the CEECS letters include such expressions as in great hope (container + quantification). (d) “Pride” and “anxiety” behave similarly in that they are both reified and personified, but not in all the corpora. They also behave similarly in that the findings concerning Early Modern English are different from those concerning Present-Day English. “Pride” is “heavily metaphorized” in the Early Modern English data, but less so in the Present-Day English data, which has more words, which means that we could expect there to be more metaphors. Whether “anxiety” is indeed personified in the very small Early Modern English data nevertheless depends on the interpretation of a single clause (repeated from [15]): (15)

he must be subject to great Anxieties (PHILO BOETHPR 126)

This attests a personification if Anxieties is understood to mean superiors to the person spoken of as he. (e) “Calmness” is reified only in the Early Modern English data. Whether it is reified or not depends on the frequency of the noun calm as against other word classes, and thus may or may not depend on the historical variety in question. The OED tells us that the potential range of word classes for “calmness” was not significantly different for Early Modern English than Present-Day English. More empirical data is needed to establish whether the noun was more frequent in Early Modern English than Present-Day English. (f) “Sadness” is not reified or personified, because people tend to use the adjective sad rather than the noun sadness. This is a further illustration of conceptual differences between emotions resulting from differences between the word classes used to talk about them. To conclude, grammatical considerations are quite important as regards reification, while personification is more typical of the Early Modern English than the Present-Day English data.


Heli Tissari

6. Location of emotions inside the body There are five ways in particular in which emotions can be metaphorically located inside the human body: (1) using the preposition in to suggest that the emotion is inside the body, (2) specifying the heart as the site of the emotion, (3) specifying the eyes (or the face) as the site of the emotion, (4) using the source domain force to suggest that something is happening in the body, and (5) using the source domain illness in relation to the body. Options (1) to (3) seem to be more frequent than options (4) and (5). It is also possible for the options to overlap, for the preposition in to locate the experiencer inside the emotion (example 8), or for the source domains force and illness to occur outside the human body, for example by attacking it, or when referring to a more general aspect of the role of the emotion in society (illness).11 All this could be discussed at length. Instead, Table 5 provides us with an overview of the explicit location of emotions in the body, for example, in the heart, in the eyes, or as a fluid in a container (options [1]–[3]). Corresponding to the findings presented in the previous section, such explicitness seems to be rare. For this reason, the threshold of five occurrences was chosen, and also because some of the data were too limited. Table 5. Does the data indicate that the emotion is metaphorically located inside the body? YY = Yes, more than 5 times, Y = Yes, but less than 5 times, N= no. The brackets indicate a result which requires the inclusion of adjectives of the type emotion-ful (e. g. respectful), while the asterisks indicate a result which requires the inclusion of spirit as part of the body. Emotion Happiness Sadness Love Hate Hope Fear Pride Shame Calmness Anxiety Excitement Respect






N Y*Y* YY Y Y Y Y Y N – – N

N N YY Y (Y) Y(Y) Y Y Y N N N

Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y (Y)


Hintikka (2007) discusses “Sickness as metaphor in Early Modern and PresentDay English”.

English words for emotions and their metaphors


Table 5 suggests three kinds of emotions: (a) Those which tend to be located inside the body include “love”, “hope”, “fear”, “pride”, and “shame”. This result suggests stability in conceptualization. Although “love”, “pride”, and “shame” were evaluated differently in Early Modern English than in Present-Day English (Table 3), people nevertheless talked about them in terms of what we now might like to call the physiology of emotions. (b) Those which Present-Day English locates inside the body in contrast to Early Modern English include “happiness”, “anxiety”, “excitement”, and “respect”. This result suggests conceptual change: the meaning of these lexical groups has become more emotional, at least as measured in terms of location inside the body. This agrees with what sections 3 and 4 argued about “anxiety” and “excitement” becoming more like emotions. (c) Those which may or may not be located inside the body include “sadness” and “calmness”. This ambiguity may in part result from the frequency of the adjective sad as against the noun sadness, and from the noun calm having weather-related senses. However, these lexical groups, “calmness” in particular, seem to call for more investigation. Another set of data which I have collected on “calmness” shows important connections between controlling one’s emotions and controlling one’s body.

7. Movement related to emotions Lastly, let us look at which kinds of movement are associated with the emotions. An answer to this question will help us to arrive at a fuller understanding of question 4 (“Does the data indicate that the emotion is metaphorically located inside or outside the human body?”), because the movement may concern the body of the person who is the experiencer of the emotion. However, rather than presenting a fully-fledged comparison between Early Modern English and Present-Day English, I will simply sketch potential kinds of movement. The movement associated with the emotion may be expressed by a single preposition or it can be of a more general conceptual nature. The following lists are not exhaustive, but will help us to see in what ways movement can be associated with emotion.


Heli Tissari

7.1. Prepositions suggesting movement associated with an emotion Beyond: This preposition may indicate a bad result regardless of the amount of positive emotion and effort. Metaphorically speaking, one might talk of a projection beyond the area contained by this emotion and effort. Example: beyond hope. Behind: The Early Modern English data uses this preposition to conceptualize hope as an entity which people may leave to others in a particular location after they have left the location. In: This preposition suggests movement into a container, in particular as regards the phrase to fall in love. Out of: This prepositional phrase suggests movement away from a container, for example out of love. Note that the phrase is ambiguous: it can be used either to suggest the end of love (a person who has fallen out of love is no longer in love), or love as a cause (source) of something. The causal reading also applies to out of fear. Through: This preposition suggests movement into, along, and out of a container. It is disputable whether such movement and the instrumental uses of the preposition fit together. As regards through love, one might imagine a “plunge” into a positive emotion which would result in a desire and a consequent accomplishment. (20)

Through love neither God nor our fellow man/woman is a mere object to us … (FLOB: The Heythrop Journal: A Quarterly Review of Philosophy and Theology [D09: 6])

7.2. Movement of a more general conceptual nature Note that the names suggested for each of these categories do not imply a consequent use of the corresponding preposition or adverb in any actual context of occurrence of a lexical item. They simply name the direction of movement. The idea is to characterize different ways in which, for example, movement away (from something or somebody) relates to the use of emotion words.12


By “exchange” and “increase” directions, I refer to metaphorical movement and its direction (associating exchange with a movement between two recipients, and increase with an upwards or spreading movement).

English words for emotions and their metaphors


7.2.1. Physical movement (which may be but need not be metaphorical) Away: It may be decrease of an emotion (cf. out of love), the opposite of increase (cf. below), or loss of something. It may be movement away from the cause(r) of the emotion. A desire to avoid the cause(r) of the emotion applies to “fear” in particular, but also to “hate”. Furthermore, it may be movement away from the person who would like to experience the emotion (cf. forwards), or giving something away (cf. exchange). Between: People may be conceptualized as oscillating between two emotions such as “fear” and “hope”. Downwards: Downwards movement applies in particular to negative experiences such as “sadness”. It may metonymically reflect body movement, and it may entail a moral or religious judgment, for example, predicting that a proud person will fall. Exchange: In a prototypical exchange, a person gives an entity to another person. Positive emotions such as “love” and “respect” tend to be conceptualized in terms of giving and receiving. Forwards: When an emotion is personified or conceptualized as something that a person strives after, it may be discussed in terms of forward motion. For example, love and happiness may be “chased” in this manner. Increase: People talk about increase of both positive and negative emotions. A good example of a positive emotion is wishing increased happiness to the recipient of a letter. For some reason, the HCE data on “sadness” tends to emphasize the increase of sadness. The verb sadden in itself comprehends the idea of increased “sadness”. An emphasis on the increase of “fear” often indicates that a situation is getting more and more dangerous or risky. Outwards: Sometimes emotions are conceptualized as emanating from their experiencers. This may apply to a positive emotion such as “happiness” or “love” as well as to a negative emotion such as “hate” and “shame”, and it may imply that the emotion is contagious. Emotions may also be conceptualized as spreading without naming a source. Furthermore, emotions may be conceptualized as emanating from a source other than a human being (e. g. God), or they may themselves be conceptualized as sources (e. g. love being conceptualized as a source of something good, cf. through). Towards: This may be movement towards the object or cause(r) of the emotion, e. g., a beloved person, or movement towards an emotion, e. g., the pursuit of happiness (cf. forwards). Upwards: This is, roughly, the mirror image of downwards movement. Metaphorically speaking, while sadness is down, happiness is up. Proud people aspire upwards, but may fall downwards in shame, especially in Early Modern English.


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7.2.2. Movement on a time-axis Backwards: It may be typical of an emotion that it is only recognized in retrospect. This applies to “happiness”. Or, it may be typical of an emotion that its cause is in the past. This applies to “sadness”. Forwards: It is typical of “fear” and “hope” to anticipate the future. In the CEECS data, people often wish for a happy meeting with someone in the future. If Heaven is conceptualized as a place of happiness which one reaches after one’s death, then “happiness” is also conceptualized as something in the future; but this may apply to an anticipated happy marriage as well. A subtype of forwards is continuous: It may be desirable that the emotion, in particular the exchange of the emotion, remain the same as it is/was. This applies in particular to “happiness”, to “love”, also in its Early Modern English sense of ‘peace between nations’, and to “respect”. 7.3. A final word on movement People also conceptualize emotions in terms of stable direction, in terms of depth, distance, and the front-back dimension (cf. behind). Depth tends to stand for “sincerity” or “seriousness”, while the distance may concern the relationship of two emotions. The front-back dimension involves such Biblical concepts as “shame in front of one’s eyes” or “keeping the fear of God in front of one’s eyes”.13 In sum, English words for emotions are associated with direction and movement in many ways, which could certainly be examined in more detail, in spite of the wealth of previous research on conceptual metaphors for emotions in English. In particular, there is plenty of potential for comparing various historical periods with one another, not to mention conducting a systematic study of stability and changes from the earliest English texts to Present-Day English.

8. Discussion and conclusions This section considers each question in turn, summarising the findings and asking what they suggest in terms of future research. Finally, we will arrive at evaluating the initial suggestion that we are dealing with various continua which combine old and new ways of looking at emotions in cognitive linguistics. 13

Kela has recently written a comprehensive study of these kinds of metaphors in Finnish Biblical translations (2007).

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8.1. On the naming of emotions A look at the Oxford English Dictionary revealed that words which we associate with emotions have many non-emotional senses as well. An analysis of their occurrences in corpora verified this, suggesting furthermore that there are various kinds of uses for emotion words. The main purpose in using an emotion word may not be the naming of an emotion, but rather, the fulfilling of a social expectation, or conveying some idea associated with an emotion (e. g. an idea of a negative or positive future prospect in terms of “fear” and “hope”). This is not an entirely surprising or novel finding, but it is good to take it into account in further studies of emotion words and concepts within the framework of cognitive linguistics. There is still plenty of room for developing such analyses, beginning from terminology for distinguishing between various aspects of word uses, especially if one adheres to the claim that meaning cannot be divided into semantic and pragmatic meaning:14 how, then, does one account for these kinds of phenomena?

8.2. On the desirability of emotions The same question becomes relevant when we look at the desirability of emotions, as attested by usage of emotion words. The topic of desirability can be divided into several sub-topics, beginning from distinguishing between the desirability of the emotion itself and of mentioning it in particular contexts. This article also discusses the idea that the desirability of each emotion depends not only on how it feels, but on religious and social conditions, reflected in the co-text. The Early Modern English data conveys religious values in particular, while the Present-Day English data balances between feeling and the society. In terms of future research, one might address the question of how this relates to the encyclopaedic nature of meaning, as advanced by cognitive linguists (e. g. Geeraerts 1997): To what extent should linguists venture into discussing such conditioning? What kind of terminology ought they to use? How much contextual information do they need for statements concerning such issues to be reliable? Indeed, it seems that research questions such as (1) and (2) are at least as relevant to our understanding of emotion concepts as question (3) (I am referring to the research questions introduced in section 2.2). 14

I am referring to such claims as Evans and Green’s (2006: 211): “Cognitive semanticists argue that the division of linguistic meaning into semantics (context-independent meaning) and pragmatics (context-dependent meaning) is … problematic.”


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8.3. Reification and personification of emotions These findings concern the fundamental claim in cognitive linguistics that metaphors underlie our basic understanding of concepts. In fact, the scarcity of reification and, in particular, reification in the data analysed for this article seems to challenge this claim. In our data, only an average of 10–20% of occurrences of emotion words attest a reification, while personifications are even less frequent. Note also that this is the case though a rather broad definition of “metaphor” is suggested. In terms of future research, these findings call for investigations into frequencies of conceptual metaphors in various kinds of data, and perhaps for a re-assessment of the current definition of conceptual metaphor, at least as applied to authentic data. In other words, we still seriously need to ask how to identify metaphors, as has been done by the Pragglejazz Group, for example (2007). My general hypothesis is that the number of concepts which English speaking people consider as emotions occurring in the body has increased since Early Modern English.

8.4. Location of emotions inside the body The findings suggest a general hypothesis that the number of concepts which (native) speakers of English consider as emotions occurring inside the body has increased since Early Modern English. However, this claim will certainly need to be modified if one takes into account the fundamental changes in the whole conceptualization of emotions and of the body and of their functions between medieval and our times. The key question is what are emotions and what do they do to us. Even the very concept of “emotion” hardly existed in the 16th century.15 Considering this, the rest of the questions, e. g. question (1) about the naming of emotions will be seen in a new light: Can we talk of naming an “emotion” before the concept of “emotion” exists? The claim here is that such a question may be relevant from our point of view when we wish to compare a number of concepts. However, it must be noted that while it allows for simple diachronic comparison, it is strictly speaking anachronistic. 15

For relevant research, see Diller (2007a). Dirk Geeraerts, Michele Goyens and Annelies Bloem have conducted research on the birth of the word emotion, focusing on the history of the French language. Furthermore, Diller and Tissari gave papers on the English word and concept of emotion at the ISLE 2008 conference in Freiburg.

English words for emotions and their metaphors


8.5. Movement related to emotions Movement is inherent in such classic notions of the conceptual metaphor theory as containment and directionality. It nevertheless seems that emotions involve several kinds of movement which have not been discussed very much within cognitive linguistics. In particular, one might do more research on emotional movement as expressed through specific prepositions and/or adverbs, or non-metaphorical movement. One could also compare metaphorical with non-metaphorical movement in more depth. In general, corpus-based, bottomup research on emotion words seems to highlight a different set of movement types than more philosophically oriented, top-down research would.16

8.6. Axes and continua Finally, we would like to suggest two things. Firstly, the kinds of questions presented here, while potentially still too simple, allow us to glimpse emotion words on several kinds of diachronic and synchronic axes and continua. Depending on context, the following may hold both diachronically and synchronically: (1) the status of a word may oscillate between referring and not referring to an emotion; (2) it may be associated with various kinds of things calling for positive and negative associations; (3 & 4) partly depending on such associations, it may be accompanied by a changing set of metaphors; and (5) there may also be changes as regards movement associated with the emotion word. This study suggests that the clearest diachronic changes occur with respect to questions (1) and (2), and that question (5) in particular deserves further study. A fully-fledged study of all these aspects could even include diagrams positioning the emotions on various scales, both separately and in combination.

8.7. Combining old and new ideas As suggested at the beginning of this article, studying conceptual metaphors for emotions is no longer a new enterprise. Historical studies have been conducted ever since the beginning of conceptual metaphor theory in the 1980s. However, they have always been a minority activity, and it seems that there are still many aspects to cover if we wish to describe (let alone explain) diachronic variation in emotion metaphors in English alone. 16

Kövecses (2008) comments on the differences between these two approaches.


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This article suggests that it could be useful to combine diachronic studies of emotion metaphors not only with corpus methods, but also with new kinds of questions regarding various senses and uses of each emotion word. Even if the questions are not entirely new, the combination of conceptual metaphor theory with new aspects of emotion words would allow us to arrive at a fuller picture of what emotions are and their potential linguistic and other functions. This may raise issues that cognitive linguistics has not yet covered.

References Athanasiadou, $QJHOLNLDQG(OĪELHWD7DEDNRZVND (eds.) 1998 Speaking of Emotions: Conceptualisation and Expression. Berlin: Mouton. Barcelona, Antonio 1986 The concept of depression in American English: A cognitive approach. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 12: 7–33. Diller, Hans-Jürgen 2007a From PǀG to emotion (or almost): The medieval gestation of a modern concept. In: Gabriella Mazzon (ed.), Studies in Middle English Forms and Meanings, 13–39. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Diller, Hans-Jürgen 2007b Medieval “with a mood” and Modern “in a mood”: Changing a metaphor we live by. Poetica 66: 127–140. Diller, Hans-Jürgen 2008 Emotion vs. passion: The evolution of an a-moral category. Paper presented at the ISLE (International Society for the Linguistics of English) 2008 Conference in Freiburg, Germany, 8–11 October. Dirven, René and Ralf Pörings (eds.) 2002 Metaphor and Metonymy in Comparison and Contrast. Berlin: Mouton. Ekman, Paul 2003 Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life. New York: Henry Holt. Evans, Vyvyan and Melanie Green 2006 Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Fabiszak, Małgorzata 1999 A semantic analysis of emotion terms in Old English. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia XXXIV: 133–146. Fabiszak, Małgorzata 2000 An application of the Natural Semantic Metalanguage to diachronic semantics. In: Irma Taavitsainen, Terttu Nevalainen, Päivi Pahta and Matti Rissanen (eds.), Placing Middle English in Context, 293–312. Berlin: Mouton.

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Fabiszak, Małgorzata 2001/2002 The Concept of ‘Joy’ in Old and Middle English: A Semantic Analysis. Piła: :\ĪV]HM6NRá\%L]QHVX. Fehr, Beverley and James A. Russell 1984 Concept of emotion viewed from a prototype perspective. Journal of Experimental Psychology 113 (3): 464–486. Geeraerts, Dirk 1997 Diachronic Prototype Semantics: A Contribution to Historical Lexicology. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Geeraerts, Dirk and Stefan Grondelaers 1995 Looking back at anger: Cultural traditions and metaphorical patterns. In: John R. Taylor and Robert E. MacLaury (eds.), Language and the Cognitive Construal of the World, 153–179. Berlin: Mouton. Gevaert, Caroline 2001 Anger in Old and Middle English: A ‘hot’ topic? Belgian Essays on Language and Literature: 89–101. Gevaert, Caroline 2005 The anger is heat question: Detecting cultural influence on the conceptualization of anger through diachronic corpus analysis. In: Nicole Delbecque, Johan van der Auwera and Dirk Geeraerts (eds.), Perspectives on Variation: Sociolinguistic, Historical, Comparative, 195–208. Berlin: Mouton. Györi, Gabor 1998 Cultural variation in the conceptualisation of emotions: A historical study. In: Angeliki Athanasiadou and (OĪELHWD7DEDNRZVND (eds.), Speaking of Emotions: Conceptualisation and Expression, 99–124. Berlin: Mouton. Heikkinen, Kanerva and Heli Tissari 2002 Gefeoh and geblissa or happy birthday! On Old English bliss and modern English happy. In: Helena Raumolin-Brunberg, Minna Nevala, Arja Nurmi and Matti Rissanen (eds.), Variation Past and Present: VARIENG Studies on English for Terttu Nevalainen, 59–76. Helsinki: Société Néophilologique. Hintikka, Marianna 2007 Sickness as metaphor in Early Modern and Present-Day English. In Matti Rissanen, Marianna Hintikka, Leena Kahlas-Tarkka and Roderick McConchie (eds.), Change in Meaning and the Meaning of Change: Studies in Semantics and Grammar from Old to Present-Day English, 91–112. Helsinki: Société Néophilologique. Hundt, Marianne, Andrea Sand and Rainer Siemund (eds.) 1998 Manual of Information to Accompany The Freiburg – LOB Corpus of British English (‘FLOB’). Freiburg: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Englisches Seminar. http://khnt.hit.uib.no/icame/manuals/flob/ Hundt, Marianne, Andrea Sand and Paul Skandera (eds.) 1999 Manual of Information to Accompany The Freiburg – Brown Corpus of American English (‘Frown’). Freiburg: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Englisches Seminar. http://khnt.hit.uib.no/icame/manuals/frown/


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Jumalan kasvot suomeksi: Metaforisaatio ja erään uskonnollisen ilmauksen synty [The ‘face of God’ in Finnish: On metaphorization and the birth of a religious expression]. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä. Koivisto-Alanko, Päivi and Tissari, Heli 2006 Sense and sensibility: Rational thought versus emotion in metaphorical language. In Anatol Stefanowitsch and Stefan Th. Gries (eds.), Corpus-Based Approaches to Metaphor and Metonymy, 185–207. Berlin: Mouton. Kövecses, Zoltán 1986 Metaphors of Anger, Pride and Love: A Lexical Approach to the Structure of Concepts. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Kövecses, Zoltán 1988 The Language of Love: The Semantics of Passion in Conversational English. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press. Kövecses, Zoltán 1990 Emotion Concepts. New York: Springer. Kövecses, Zoltán 1991 Happiness: A definitional effort. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 6: 29–46. Kövecses, Zoltán 1995a American friendship and the scope of metaphor. Cognitive Linguistics 6: 315–346. Kövecses, Zoltán 1995b Introduction: Language and emotion concepts. In James A. Russell, José Miguel Fernández-Dols, Antony S. R. Manstead and J. C. Wellenkamp (eds.), Everyday Conceptions of Emotion: An Introduction to the Psychology, Anthropology and Linguistics of Emotion, 3–15. London: Kluwer. Kövecses, Zoltán 2000 Metaphor and Emotion: Language, Culture, and Body in Human Feeling. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kövecses, Zoltán 2005 Metaphor in Culture: Universality and Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kövecses, Zoltán 2008 The conceptual structure of happiness. In Heli Tissari, Anne Birgitta Pessi and Mikko Salmela (eds), Happiness: Cognition, Experience, Language, 131–143. Helsinki: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki. http://www.helsinki.fi/collegium/e-series/ volumes/index.htm Kytö, Merja (comp.) 1996 Manual to the Diachronic Part of the Helsinki Corpus of English Texts: Coding Conventions and Lists of Source Texts. 3rd edition, Helsinki: University of Helsinki, Department of English. http://khnt.hit.uib.no/ icame/manuals/HC/

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Lakoff, George 1987 Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson 1980 Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Lee, Penny 2003 “Feelings of the mind” in talk about thinking in English. Cognitive Linguistics 14 (2/3): 221–249. Loos, Eugene E., Susan Anderson, Dwight H. Day Jr., Paul C. Jordan and J. Douglas Wingate (eds.) 1999 Metaphors in English. (SIL Lingua Links.) Main page: http://www.sil.org/ lingualinks/lexicon/metaphorsinenglish/Index.htm. Page on emotions and the eyes: http://www.sil.org/lingualinks/lexicon/metaphorsinenglish/ WhatIsAnEyesAsContainersForEmo.htm (accessed 3 July 2007) Nevalainen, Terttu and Heli Tissari 2006 Of politeness and people. In: Graham Caie, Carole Hough and Irené Wotherspoon (eds.), The Power of Words: Essays in Lexicography, Lexicology and Semantics, 103–116. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Rodopi. Nevalainen, Terttu & Heli Tissari 2010 Contextualizing 18th-century politeness: Social distinction and metaphorical levelling. In: Raymond Hickey (ed.), Eighteenth Century English: Ideology and Change, 133–158. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nurmi, Arja (ed.) 1998 Manual for the Corpus of Early English Correspondence Sampler CEECS. Helsinki: University of Helsinki, Department of English. http:// khnt.hit.uib.no/icame/manuals/ceecs/ Peters, Hans 2004 The vocabulary of pain. In: Christian J. Kay and Jeremy J. Smith (eds.), Categorization in the History of English, 193–220. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Pragglejaz Group 2007 MIP: A method for identifying metaphorically used words in discourse. Metaphor and Symbol 22: 1–39. Rissanen, Matti, Marianna Hintikka, Leena Kahlas-Tarkka and Roderick McConchie (eds.) 2007 Change in Meaning and the Meaning of Change: Studies in Semantics and Grammar from Old to Present-Day English. Helsinki: Société Néophilologique. Russell, James A., José Miguel Fernández-Dols, Antony S. R. Manstead and J. C. Wellenkamp (eds.) 1995 Everyday Conceptions of Emotion: An Introduction to the Psychology, Anthropology and Linguistics of Emotion. London: Kluwer. Stefanowitsch, Anatol 2004 Happiness in English and German: A metaphorical-pattern analysis. In: Michel Achard and Suzanne Kemmer (eds.), Language, Culture, and Mind, 137–149. Stanford: Stanford University, Center for the Study of Language and Information.


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Stefanowitsch, Anatol 2006 Words and their metaphors: A corpus-based approach. In: Anatol Stefanowitsch and Stefan Th. Gries (eds.), Corpus-Based Approaches to Metaphor and Metonymy, 63–105. Berlin: Mouton. Stefanowitsch, Anatol and Stefan Th. Gries (eds.) 2006 Corpus-Based Approaches to Metaphor and Metonymy. Berlin/New York: Mouton. Sweetser, Eve 1990 From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphorical and Cultural Aspects of Semantic Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tissari, Heli LOVEscapes: Changes in Prototypical Senses and Cognitive Metaphors 2003 since 1500. Helsinki: Société Néophilologique. Tissari, Heli 2004a Like like love: comparing two modern English words diachronically. In: Christian Kay, Carole Hough and Irené Wotherspoon (eds.), New Perspectives on English Historical Linguistics. Volume II: Lexis and Transmission, 235–249. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Tissari, Heli 2004b Vistas of fear and hope: on metaphors occurring with the English words fear and hope. In: Marja Nenonen (ed.), Papers from the 30th Finnish Conference of Linguistics, Joensuu, May 15–16, 2003, 214–220. Joensuu: University of Joensuu. Tissari, Heli 2006a Conceptualizing shame: Investigating uses of the English word shame, 1418–1991. In: R. W. McConchie, Olga Timofeeva, Heli Tissari and Tanja Säily (eds.), Selected Proceedings of the 2005 Symposium on New Approaches in English Historical Lexis (HEL-LEX), 143–154. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. http://www.lingref.com/cpp/hellex/2005/paper1355.pdf Tissari, Heli 2006b Justified pride? Metaphors of the word pride in English language corpora, 1418–1991. Nordic Journal of English Studies 5: 15–49. https:// guoa.ub.gu.se/dspace/handle/2077/691 Tissari, Heli 2007 Compressing emotion to politeness: On I fear and I’m afraid. In Matti Rissanen, Marianna Hintikka, Leena Kahlas-Tarkka, and Roderick McConchie (eds.), Change in Meaning and the Meaning of Change: Studies in Semantics and Grammar from Old to Present-Day English, 57–90. Helsinki: Société Néophilologique. Tissari, Heli 2008a On the concept of sadness: Looking at words in contexts derived from corpora. In: Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk (ed.), Corpus Linguistics, Computer Tools, and Applications: State of the Art, 291–308. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Tissari, Heli 2008b A look at respect: Investigating metonymies in Early Modern English. In: Richard Dury, Maurizio Gotti and Marina Dossena (eds.), Eng-

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lish Historical Linguistics 2006. Volume II: Lexical and Semantical Change. Selected Papers from the Fourteenth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL 14), Bergamo, 21–25 August 2006, 139–157. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Tissari, Heli 2008c What kind of force? On conceptual metaphors of emotion in 17th to 20th century English. Paper presented at the ISLE (International Society for the Linguistics of English) 2008 Conference in Freiburg, Germany, 8–11 October. Tissari, Heli forthcoming Love, metaphor and responsibility: Some examples from Early Modern and Present-Day English corpora. In: Graham Low, Zazie Todd, Alice Deignan and Lynne Cameron (eds.), Researching and Applying Metaphor in the Real World. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Tissari, Heli, Anne Birgitta Pessi and Mikko Salmela (eds.) 2008 Happiness: Cognition, Experience, Language. Helsinki: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki. http://www.helsinki.fi/collegium/e-series/volumes/index.htm Tomkins, Silvan S. 1963 Affect Imagery Consciousness. Volume III: The Negative Affects. New York/London: Springer. Wierzbicka, Anna 1992 Defining emotion concepts. Cognitive Science 16: 539–581. Wierzbicka, Anna 1995 Everyday conceptions of emotion: A semantic perspective. In James A. Russell, José Miguel Fernández-Dols, Antony S. R. Manstead and J. C. Wellenkamp (eds.), Everyday Conceptions of Emotion: An Introduction to the Psychology, Anthropology and Linguistics of Emotion, 17–48. London: Kluwer. Wierzbicka, Anna 1999 Emotions across Languages and Cultures: Diversity and Universals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. White, Geoffrey 2004 (2000) Representing emotional meaning: Category, metaphor, schema, discourse. In: Michael Lewis and Jeannette M. Haviland-Jones (eds.), Handbook of Emotions, 2nd edition, 30–44. London: Guilford. Yu, Ning 1995 Metaphorical expressions of anger and happiness in English and Chinese. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 10(2): 59–92.

6. Afterword

Prospects for the past: Perspectives for cognitive diachronic semantics Dirk Geeraerts

Abstract Cognitive diachronic semantics is placed in a long-term historical perspective. It is argued that prestructuralist historical semantics focused on two areas: the interplay of system and usage, and the conceptual mechanisms of semantic change. It is shown that these fields of investigation are also the main foci of current work in cognitive diachronic semantics. With regard to future developments in diachronic cognitive semantics, it is suggested that the dialectic relationship between system and usage is the topic field where most progress can be expected.

1. Cognitive semantics in a historical perspective Cognitive linguistics has a conception of language that implies a recognition of the intrinsic historicity of language. Among the various central features of cognitive linguistics (see Geeraerts 2006 for an attempt to present them synthetically), two prime for a view of language as an inherently historical phenomenon. In the first place, the experiential nature of language involves a historically specific experience. If language both shapes and reflects human experience, then language is as historical as that experience: while part of the human experience is universal and biologically species-specific, another part is historical and cultural. In the second place, the usage-based nature of language implies that language is inherently dynamic. In a usage-based model, the linguistic system (Saussurean “langue”) and linguistic usage (Saussurean “parole”) entertain a dialectic relationship. On the one hand, the existing regularities in the linguistic behaviour of the speech community guide the way individual members use their language: communicative efficiency requires that they make use of the existing means of communication. On the other hand, language users adapt the existing means to their communicative needs, and may so cumulatively achieve a change in the conventional regularities. Language, in other words, is


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inherently historical, because the conditions for its replication – language usage – embody the causes of its possible transformation. Given the intrinsic historicity of the conception of language fostered by cognitive linguistics, could we summarize what the contributions of cognitive linguistics to diachronic semantics have so far been? Admittedly (and perhaps surprisingly), historical studies do not occupy a central position within cognitive linguistics, but even so, it may be instructive to identify the points on which specific progress has been made. But progress with regard to what? As pointed out in Geeraerts (1988), cognitive semantics shares a number of crucial features with the prestructuralist tradition of historical semantics: the general interest in the flexibility and the contextualized conception of meaning, and the more specific focus on semantic phenomena like metaphor and polysemy, make clear that cognitive semantics has closer links with the earliest tradition of semantic research in modern linguistics than with any of the chronologically intervening theoretical frameworks, be they structuralist, generativist, or neostructuralist. (For more details on these stages in the history of semantics, see Geeraerts 2010.) After twenty years, and after the explosive development of cognitive linguistics, we may now have another look at the theoretical affinity between cognitive semantics and the prestructuralist tradition. If we take the programme of prestructuralist diachronic semantics as a point of departure, what has cognitive linguistics contributed to the study of linguistic change, and particularly (given the central role of semantics in the cognitive framework) to the study of semantic change? This paper (which roughly covers the same ground as section 5.4 of Geeraerts 2010) will try to provide a synthetic answer to that question. We will first briefly recall the essentials of the prestructuralist, “historical-philological” outlook. Then follows an overview of the innovations and extensions brought by cognitive semantics, starting from the assumption that it implicitly tries to emulate the research programme defined by the older tradition. Finally, a number of open questions are identified: these are the areas where future improvements of our semantic study of the past may most profitably be situated.

2. The components of prestructuralist diachronic semantics The historical-philological tradition (as we will now continue to call it) consists of two conceptual building-blocks: on the one hand, a psychological conception of individual acts of meaning change as being based on specific cognitive mechanisms, and on the other hand, a pragmatic conception of how such individual acts contribute to global changes. We will illustrate the first aspect with

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a reference to the work of Michel Bréal, and the second with a reference to the views of Hermann Paul. Two points need to be clarified first, though. To begin with, this nutshell presentation glosses over important differences within the historical-philological tradition. Not all scholars working in that period share the psychological view of mechanisms of change, and when they do share the psychological perspective, the actual classification of mechanisms of change differs considerably from author to author (see Nerlich 1992). Classifications of semantic change are in fact the main empirical output of historical-philological semantics, and an in-depth study of the historical-philological era would primarily take the form of a classification of such classifications. This point introduces the second caveat: the conceptual mechanisms of semantic extension receive proportionately much more attention from the historical-philological scholars than the relationship between individual and collective changes.

2.1. The conceptual mechanisms of semantic change The psychological orientation of historical-philological semantics may be illustrated with a few sample quotations from the work of Michel Bréal (1897), not because Bréal is the first or the single most important exponent of historical-philological semantics, but because his highly influential work clearly expresses the dominant methodological ideas. First, he explicitly defines semantics as a historical discipline. An adequate understanding of words in their contemporary meaning requires a thorough knowledge of their semantic history: “L’histoire peut seule nous donner aux mots le degré de précision dont nous avons besoin pour les bien comprendre” [‘Only history can give to the words the degree of precision that we require to understand them adequately’] (1897: 124). Second, Bréal highlights the psychological orientation of the study of meaning. There are actually two aspects to this: linguistic meaning in general is defined as a psychological phenomenon, and more specifically, change of meaning is the result of psychological processes. With regard to the first feature, meanings are considered to be psychological entities, i. e. (a kind of) thoughts or ideas: “[Le langage] objective la pensée” (‘Language makes thought objective’) (Bréal 1897: 273). The mental status of lexical meanings links up directly with the overall function of thinking, i. e. with the function of cognition as a reflection and reconstruction of experience. Language, one could say, has to do with categorization: it stores cognitive categories with which human beings make sense of the world: “Le langage est une traduction de la réalité, une transposition où les objets figurent déjà généralisés et classifiés par le travail de la


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pensée” [Language is a translation of reality, a transposition in which particular objects only appear through the intermediary of the generalizing and classificatory efforts of thought] (1897: 275). Language, then, is not autonomous; it is linked with the total set of cognitive capacities that enable men to understand the world with ever more refined conceptual tools, and it is embedded in their experience of the world. If meaning as such consists of cognitive categories – a psychological type of entity – then meaning changes must be the result of psychological processes. That is to say, the general mechanisms of semantic change that can be derived from the classificatory study of the history of words (mechanisms like metaphor and metonymy, specialization and generalization) constitute patterns of thought of the human mind. Bréal calls these mechanisms “les lois intellectuelles du langage” [the conceptual laws of language], but he hastens to add that “law” means something different here than in the natural sciences: a law of semantic change is not a strict rule without exceptions, but it represents a tendency of the human cognitive apparatus to function in a particular way. In a passage that opposes restricting linguistics to the study of the formal aspects of language, he remarks (1897: 338–339): Nous ne doutons pas que la linguistique, revenant de ses paradoxes et de ses partis pris, deviendra plus juste pour le premier moteur des langues, c’est-à-dire pour nous-mêmes, pour l’intelligence humaine. Cette mystérieuse transformation qui fait sortir le français du latin, comme le persan du zend et l’anglais de l’anglo-saxon, et qui présente partout sur les faits essentiels un ensemble frappant de rencontres et d’identités, n’est pas le simple produit de la décadence des sons et de l’usure des flexions; sous ces phénomènes où tout nous parle de ruine, nous sentons l’action d’une pensée qui se dégage de la forme à laquelle elle est enchaînée, qui travaille à la modifier, et qui tire souvent avantage de ce qui semble d’abord perte et destruction. Mens agitat molem. [We do not doubt that linguistics, giving up its paradoxical prejudices, will treat more fairly the primary forces in languages, i. e. ourselves, human intelligence. The mysterious transformation that makes French grow out of Latin (just as Persian out of Zend, and English out of Anglo-Saxon), and that everywhere shows a remarkable set of similarities and parallelisms with regard to its essentials, is not simply the product of the decay of sounds and the wearing off of endings. Behind these phenomena in which everything seems to speak of decay, we feel the active efforts of human thought liberating itself from the form in which it is constrained, trying to modify it, and very often turning to its advantage what at first sight appears to be mere loss and destruction. Mind moves matter.]

The moving force of the human mind also shows up in the fact that the fundamental factor that brings the psychological mechanisms of semantic change into action, consists of the communicative needs of the language user. Lan-

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guages change because people try to express their thoughts as accurately and satisfactorily as possible (1897: 8). The psychological conception of meaning that is expressed by Bréal constitutes the mainstream view of historical-philological semantics: by and large, it is the view of writers like Wegener (1885), Hecht (1888), Hey (1892), Stöcklein (1898), Thomas (1894, 1896), Waag (1908), Erdmann (1910) in Germany, Paris (1887), Roudet (1921) and Esnault (1925) in France, Wellander (1917, 1921) in Sweden, Nyrop (1901–1934, 1913) in Denmark, Van Helten (1912–1913) in The Netherlands, Whitney (1875) and Oertel (1902) in the United States. As already mentioned, the main product of their activity consists of classifications of semantic change, varying in scope and specificity, and culminating in the classificatory systems of Carnoy (1927) and Stern (1931). These two works, which close off the historical-philological period, present catalogues of remarkable taxonomical depth: basic categories are divided into subclasses, which may then be divided into further subclasses, and so on, almost ad infinitum.

2.2. The feedback loop of system and usage If you focus on the individual creative acts that innovatively change the language, what exactly is the relationship with “the language”, given that language is indeed something more than a purely individual phenomenon? How does innovative individual behaviour relate to language as a shared institution? Hermann Paul’s specification of a pragmatic conception of semantics, to which we now turn, provides an answer to precisely that problem. (His views are formulated in his influential introduction to historical linguistics, Prinzipien der Sprachgeschichte, first published in 1880. The quotes below are from the 5th edition of 1920.) The first pillar of Paul’s approach involves the distinction between the “usual” and the “occasional” meaning of an expression. The usual meaning (usuelle Bedeutung) is the established meaning as shared by the members of a language community. The occasional meaning (okkasionelle Bedeutung) involves the modulations that the usual meaning can undergo in actual speech (1920: 75). Wir verstehen also unter usueller Bedeutung den gesamten Vorstellungsinhalt, der sich für den Angehörigen einer Sprachgenossenschaft mit einem Worte verbindet, unter okkasioneller Bedeutung denjenigen Vorstellungsinhalt, welchen der Redende, indem er das Wort ausspricht, damit verbindet, und von welchem er erwartet, dass ihn auch der Hörende damit verbinde. [By “usual meaning”, we understand the total representational content that is associated with a word for any member of a speech community. By “occasional mean-


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ing”, we understand the representational content that an interlocutor associates with a word when he uses it, and which he expects the hearer to associate with the word as well.]

If the “usuelle Bedeutung” is like the semantic description that would be recorded in a dictionary (fairly general, and in principle known to all the speakers of a language), then the “okkasionelle Bedeutung” is the concretization that such a general concept receives in the context of a specific utterance. The second pillar of Paul’s conception of semantics is the insight that context is all-important to understand the shift from usual to occasional meaning. We can easily appreciate this point if we look at a number of different types of occasional meaning, and the way in which they derive from the usual meaning. To begin with, let us note that there can be various usual meanings to a word: if a word is polysemous, the usual meaning involves a set of related meanings, a cluster of different well-established senses. The occasional meaning, on the other hand, is always a single reading. In many cases, then, realizing the occasional meaning amounts to selecting the appropriate reading from among the multiple established senses of a word. Paul highlights the importance of context in this process. German Blatt is likely to be interpreted differently in the context of a bookshop than when you are having a walk in the woods: ‘sheet of paper’ in the former case, ‘leaf’ in the latter. In other cases, the contextualization of the usual meaning involves not a selection of one reading from among many existing ones, but the concrete specification of a more general sense. The word corn, for instance, used to be a cover term for all kinds of grain, but was differently specialized to ‘wheat’ in England, to ‘oats’ in Scotland, and to ‘maize’ in the United States, depending on the dominant variety of grain grown in each of these countries. Again, it’s the context of use that triggers the specialized meaning. Finally, there are instances in which the contextualized meaning does not contain all the features of the usual meaning. In a metaphorical expression like das Feuer der Leidenschaft ‘the fire of passion’, the combination of “fire” with “passion” signals that Feuer cannot be taken in its original reading. So we see how the interplay of contextual triggers and usual meanings can give rise to occasional meanings. But what about the reverse process? How can occasional meanings give rise to usual meanings? The third pillar of Paul’s views consists of a dialectic relationship between language structure and use: occasional meanings that are used very often may themselves become usual, i. e. they may acquire an independent status. So, on the one hand, usual meanings are the basis for deriving occasional ones, but on the other, the contextualized meanings may become conventional and decontextualized. The clearest criterion for a shift from the occasional to the usual level is the possibility of

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interpreting the new meaning independently. If corn evokes ‘wheat’ without specific clues in the linguistic or the extra-linguistic environment, then we can be sure that the sense ‘wheat’ has become conventionalized. In this way, Paul develops a pragmatic, usage-based theory of semantic change: the foundation of semantic change is the modulation of usual meanings into occasional meanings. And the mechanisms of semantic change that semanticians are so eager to classify, are essentially the same mechanisms that allow speakers to modulate those usual meanings: in the corn and Feuer examples, we can see how specialization of meaning and metaphor (two types of semantic change that would traditionally be mentioned in classifications of semantic change) operate at the concrete utterance level.

3. System and usage in cognitive semantics If we try to classify the major contributions of cognitive linguistics to diachronic semantics, the two components of historical-philological semantics provide a useful framework – not surprisingly, perhaps, given the overall affinity between historical-philological and cognitive semantics. In other words, the advances presented by cognitive semantics relate nicely to the two crucial questions investigated in the older tradition: what are the mechanisms underlying individual meaning changes, and how do these specific changes interact with the linguistic system? If we zoom in on the second question first, two areas of research need to be mentioned. In the first place, the invited inferencing theory of semantic change links the overall usage-based model of change to Gricean pragmatics. We called Paul’s conception of change a “pragmatic” one because it linked usage and convention, but pragmatics in the technical sense as a branch of linguistics developed only after the historical-philological era. In the invited inferencing theory of semantic change, then, we can see how the hypotheses developed within linguistic pragmatics are introduced into a usage-based model of change that is essentially the same as Paul’s. In the second place, cognitive linguistics develops the fundamental idea that a dialectic view of the relationship between system and usage has consequences for the way we think about the system. This is not just a structure of elements (words, constructions – any means of expression in the language) but the relationship among the elements bears witness to their role at the level of usage. More specifically, some of the elements in the structure are more important than others (even though, from a conceptual point of view, they belong to the same class or category) because they are more frequent in usage. In this way,


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the notion of structural weight as a reflection of frequency of use is introduced into the description of change. This idea blurs the traditionally strict boundary between structure and use: frequency effects at the usage level make their way into the system as differences of structural weight. (Another term sometimes used to refer to this phenomenon is “entrenchment”: see Langacker 1987: 59.) In semantics, this idea specifically takes the form of prototype theory; in a broader context of historical linguistics, it emerges in the form of frequencybased and exemplar-based models of change.

3.1. Invited inference and pragmatics As a usage-based approach to meaning in general, cognitive semantics obviously takes a usage-based approach to meaning change in particular: new ways of using language emerge in the context of actual language use. Conceptually, this implies a distinction between decontextualized, coded meanings (stored in the language user’s semantic memory), and contextualized readings that are realized in a specific discourse context. From a historical point of view, as we have seen, this is not a novel idea: it is easily recognized as essentially the same model that lies behind Paul’s distinction between an usuelle Bedeutung and an okkasionelle Bedeutung. (That historical background is not often recognized by the contemporary theorists, but that is an example of the more general phenomenon that the scholarship that emerged in the historical-philological era is not well known.) The overall model comes in a number of terminological and theoretical guises, but the most articulate formulation is without doubt the invited inferencing theory of semantic change initiated by Elizabeth Traugott (1982, 1985, 1988, 1989) and described in systematic detail by Traugott and Dasher (2005). A crucial advance in comparison to earlier or simpler formulations of a usage-based model of change is the explicit reference to principles of pragmatic reasoning in the invited inferencing theory of semantic change. In fact, if new meanings arise at the level of discourse, the apparatus of linguistic pragmatics should be applicable to the relevant processes. Simplifying, this link with pragmatics takes two forms. First, the contextualization of coded meanings takes shape through “invited inferences”, interpretations that are not expressed explicitly but that are nevertheless intended or at least allowed by the speaker/writer. In a standard case of metonymy like Don’t forget to fill up the car, the conclusion that it is not the entire car that needs to be filled with fuel is not an accident; it is intended by the speaker/writer. To explain how and when such inferences come about, Traugott and Dasher (2005) refer to the neo-Gricean pragmatic principles for-

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mulated by Horn (1984). These principles distinguish between a “Q-heuristic” (like the first Gricean maxim of Quantity: “make your contribution sufficiently informative, and mean no more than that”), an R-heuristic (invoking the second Gricean maxim of Quantity, and the maxim of Relevance: “say or write no more than you must, and mean more by that”), and an M-heuristic (specifying Manner: “marked expressions signal a marked meaning”). It is the application of the R-heuristic that can result in semantic change of the invited inference kind: the speaker/writer uses an expression that is less explicit than might be, but the full interpretation can be safely retrieved by the hearer/reader. Second, drawing on a distinction introduced by Levinson (1995), Traugott and Dasher suggest the following path for the process by means of which such invited inferences become conventionalized. As a first step, following the mechanism that we just described, a conventional coded meaning gives rise to an utterance-token meaning, in a particular context. As a second step, the utterance-token meaning may crystallize into an utterance-type meaning, i. e. a generalized invited inference that is the default interpretation of an expression but that may still be cancelled. For instance, after in After the trip to Minnesota she felt very tired would normally be interpreted as implying a causal link, but that inference may be blocked in a sentence like After the trip to Minnesota she felt very tired. It turned out that she had been sick for quite some time. In the latter sentence, it is no longer implied that she felt tired because of the trip. Finally, the utterance-type meaning may further stabilize into a new coded meaning, existing alongside the original one and sometimes replacing it. Note that the situation in which the inferences are activated together with the original meaning function as a bridging context between the new and the old meaning. A standard example of such a process of conventionalization of implicature may be found in König and Traugott (1988). Utterances expressing a temporal succession of events or situations may, by pragmatic inference, be understood as expressing causality rather than just temporal sequence. This shift from a temporal to the causative reading of the connectives is mediated by instances of use in which both co-occur. In the following series of examples, (b) is such a bridging context between (a) and (c): (a) temporal: I have done quite a bit of writing since we last met (b) temporal and causal: Since you lost your favourite fountain pen, you seem to have been suffering from writer’s block (c) causal: Since he didn’t want me to sign with a pencil, he lent me his pen Although this example involves a metonymy, the model is a general one. Novel metaphors too, for instance, may be seen as emerging in the form of invited


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inferences: a lover who addresses his beloved as squirrel triggers the implication that he sees her as lively and dynamic. Nevertheless, in the actual applications of the invited inferencing theory of semantic change, the emphasis is on metonymic relations, and there may be a tendency to see invited inferences as a particular type of metonymy only. To avoid terminological confusion, it may be useful to distinguish between two levels that play a role here. On the level of speech acts, an inference is by definition metonymic: the utterance Squirrel, I love you triggers the thought “He cannot mean that I am a rodent, so he must mean that I am agile, industrious, and inquisitive”. That is a process that is easily recognized as an example of a cause/effect metonymy. On the level of the propositional meaning of the predicates, however, the relation between the ‘rodent’ reading and the figurative reading cannot be classified as metonymic.

3.2. Prototypicality and frequency effects The prototype model of semasiological structure characteristically embodies the idea that the elements in a structure (like the different readings of an expression, or the various types of referents that it may refer to) carry different weights: some readings, or more generally, applications of an expression are structurally more important than others. (The principles of prototype theory need not be expounded here: see Taylor 2003 for a standard introduction.) The relevance of prototype theory for the description and explanation of semasiological changes is analysed at length by Geeraerts (1997). Various prototypicality effects are shown to have specific consequences for diachronic semantics. Without going into much detail, let us consider an example. By emphasizing the extensional non-equality of lexical-semantic structure (i. e. the fact that there are differences of structural weight within the semasiological range of an expression), prototype theory highlights the fact that changes in the referential range of one specific word meaning may take the form of modulations on the core cases within that referential range. Changes in the extension of a single sense of a lexical item are likely to take the form of an expansion of the prototypical centre of that extension. If the referents that may be found in the range of application of a particular lexical meaning do not have equal status, the more salient members will probably be more stable (diachronically speaking) than the less salient ones. Changes will then take the form of modulations on the central cases: if a particular meaning starts off as a name for referents exhibiting the features abcde, the subsequent expansion of the category will consist of variations on that type of referent. The further the expansion extends, the fewer features the peripheral cases will have in com-

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mon with the prototypical centre. A first layer of extensions, for instance, might consist of referents exhibiting features abcd, bcde, or acde. A further growth of the peripheral area could then involve feature sets abc, bcd, cde, or acd, to name just a few. In Geeraerts (1997), this hypothesis is supported by a case study involving a close inspection of the development of the clothing term legging in Dutch over the years 1988 to 1991. The term was introduced as a neologism in 1988, as a name for close-fitting, long, elastic women’s trousers. Over the five years studied, when the term was getting more and more popular, this initial type remains the core of the concept, measured in terms of its frequency within the category. At the same time, modulations of the core application make their appearance: leggings that are slightly less tight-fitting, or made of other materials than the basic stretch fabric, or which are are shorter than the original type. As predicted by the prototype model, these modulations on the prototype appear gradually: over the years, the new types that are introduced are farther and farther removed from the centre. The prototype structure of semantic change in its various aspects is acknowledged and illustrated in one form or another in many studies, among them Dirven (1985), Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk (1985), Casad (1992), Goossens (1992), Nerlich and Clarke (1992), Dekeyser (1990), Soares da Silva (1999, 2003), Koivisto-Alanko (2000), De Mulder and Vanderheyden (2001), Tissari (2003), Molina (2005).

4. Mechanisms and regularities in cognitive semantics Cognitive semantics has given rise to a renewed interest in the possible regularity of semantic change. Are there any constraints or tendencies on the evolution of word meanings? Specifically, is there any directionality in semantic change, in the sense that certain kinds of meaning would naturally evolve towards another kind, but not the other way round? Two related lines of research illustrate this approach.

4.1. Metaphorical and metonymical patterns Subclassifications of the major types of semantic change, like metaphor and metonymy, were quite common in the historical-philological period, but overall, the subclassifications of metonymy were situated at a more specific level than those of metaphor. In Waag (1908), for instance, one may find fairly


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specific metonymical patterns like part-whole, location-located, causeeffect, event-subevent, characteristic-characterized entity, producer-product, container-contained, action-participant. The metaphorical patterns mentioned by Waag are more general, like “metaphors based on similarities of shape and experience”, “metaphors based on similarities of structure”, “metaphors based on functional similarities”, or “metaphors relating space and time”. In cognitive linguistics, largely under the influence of conceptual metaphor theory (Lakoff & Johnson 1980, see Kövecses 2002 for an introduction), metaphor is studied at a more specific level, with well-known patterns like anger is the heat of a fluid in a container, or more is up. In line with this specific interest, diachronic work in cognitive semantics has tended to look more in the direction of such low-level metaphorical patterns, and more generally source/target alignments, rather than in the direction of metonymical patterns (pace works like Allan 2009). The interest takes roughly two different forms, a more purely historical one, and a typological one. The historical approach, represented by works like Fabiszak (2001), Tissari (2001), Gevaert (2005), Trim (2007), and several contributions in this volume, takes the form of following a metaphorical pattern, or a subject field with an expectedly high proportion of metaphors, like the emotions, through time. The interest resides in possible changes in the conceptualization of the field, but also, on a more general level, in the possible universality of the metaphorical pattern. In fact, in spite of the experientialist nature of cognitive linguistics, many proponents of conceptual metaphor theory tend to focus on allegedly universal, possibly physiological interpretations of observed patterns, at the expense of culturally specific explanations. Conventionalized phrases such as I had reached the boiling point, she was seething with rage, he lost his cool, you make my blood boil were subsumed by Lakoff and Kövecses (1987) under the conceptual metaphor anger is heat, and were interpreted in terms of physiological effects: increased body heat is taken to be a physiological effect of being in a state of anger, and anger is metonymically conceptualized in terms of its physiological effects. Geeraerts and Grondelaers (1995), however, drew attention to the plausibly culturally specific background of the expressions mentioned as evidence by Lakoff and Kövecses. A historical analysis suggests that these are lexical and conceptual relics of the theory of humours, the highly influential doctrine that dominated medical thinking in Western Europe for several centuries. In recent years, the importance of culture for metaphor research has received an increasing recognition, also among the major spokesmen of conceptual metaphor theory: see Kövecses (2005). At the same time, the methodological importance of adding a diachronic dimension to metaphor research has not yet

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gained a wide acceptance, and historical studies such as the ones mentioned above are still a minority in the context of conceptual metaphor theory. The search for regular patterns of polysemy and semantic change may be approached from a typological perspective, by looking at regularities – possibly even universals – in the historical relationship between (metaphorical) source and target domains in as many languages as possible. If the pattern is dominant in the languages of the world, occurring in many unrelated languages, it is a good candidate for a universal mechanism. At that point, the question arises what experiential factors might explain the salience of the association. This kind of perspective lies at the basis of the grammaticalization theory developed by Bernd Heine and his associates; important publications are Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991), Heine (1997), Heine and Kuteva (2002). The central question of the paradigm involves the motivation behind the creation of grammatical categories: can we understand why particular ways of forming grammatical categories are crosslinguistically more common than others? An example, taken from Heine (2004), may illustrate the perspective. Looking at cardinal numbers in a wide variety of languages, Heine makes a number of observations. First, numeral systems having “5”, “10” or “20” as the basis of their system are statistically predominant in the languages of the world, with systems based on “10” being most widespread. Second, the numerals for “5” and “10” often have nominal characteristics, while numerals from “6” to “9” often have a propositional, clause-like structure (like a phrase meaning “add the big finger”, or “jump from one hand to the other”). Third, expressions used for the mathematical operation of addition frequently find their source in function words with the meaning ‘with’ or ‘on, upon’. These observations find a plausible explanation in human experience. The hands provide an obvious model for structuring a counting system, and so, the most common structure in the world’s languages is one in which the expression for “5” is derived from that for ‘hand’, the expression for “10” from that for ‘two hands’, and the expression for “20” from that for ‘hands and feet’ or ‘whole person’. Even when these numerals no longer have a nominal meaning but have become pure numerals, they may still have morphological and grammatical properties that show that they are relics from nouns. In a similar way, it seems plausible that the expression of an abstract mental operation like arithmetical addition finds its source in more concrete acts, like putting things together (‘with’) or on top of each other (‘on, upon’). But the search for regularity does not necessarily yield universal patterns that occur in unrelated languages. It could just as well be the case that a given pattern is specific to a language family, or a language type, or a culture (Wilkins 1996). An example of the latter situation is Vanhove’s typological


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study of the sources of verbs of mental perception (2008). She makes a distinction between the source domain of vision (I can see what you mean), hearing as a source domain (will you listen to me, i. e. obey), and prehension verbs as a source domain (he didn’t grasp her meaning). She notes that, contrary to the suggestion in among others Sweetser (1990), the connection between vision and knowledge is not dominant crossculturally. The typological search for regularity also exists in a broader lexicogenetic form. “Lexicogenesis” involves the mechanisms for introducing new pairs of word forms and word meanings – all the traditional mechanisms, in other words, like word formation, word creation, borrowing, blending, truncation, ellipsis, folk etymology and others, that introduce new items into the onomasiological inventory of a language. Crucially, semasiological change is a major mechanism of lexicogenesis, i. e. of introducing new pairings of forms and meanings. Within the set of lexicogenetic mechanisms, some could be more salient (i. e. might be used more often) than others. Superficially, this could involve, for instance, an overall preference for borrowing rather than morphological productivity as mechanisms for introducing new words, but from a cognitive semantic perspective, there are other, more subtle questions to ask: do the ways in which novel words and expressions are being coined, reveal specific (and possibly preferred) ways of conceptualizing the onomasiological targets? The etymological research project started by Andreas Blank and Peter Koch (Koch 1997; Blank and Koch 1999, 2003; Gévaudan 2007), intends to systematically explore motivational preferences in the etymological inventory of the Romance languages. In comparison with much of the metaphor-oriented research, the approach put forward by Blank and Koch takes into account all possible pathways of lexicalization (and not just metaphor).

4.2. Subjectification While metaphor is a traditional mechanism of semantic change, subjectification is a newly introduced concept. The subjectification approach is closely linked to the invited inferencing theory of semantic change, and was in fact first formulated and developed by the same scholars. The background notion of the theory is the recognition that some linguistic forms involve the subjective perspective of the speaking subject more than others. Calling someone a boor is more subjective than describing someone as a sales manager: whether the latter description is correct may be settled objectively, but whether the former ascription is appropriate is likely to be a matter of opinion and debate. Against the background of this concept of subjectivity, subjectification is the process

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through which words acquire more subjective senses. In the words of Traugott (1999: 179), If the meaning of a lexical item or construction is grounded in the socio-physical world of reference, it is likely that over time, speakers will develop polysemies grounded in the speakers’ world, whether reasoning, belief, or meta-textual attitudes to the discourse. Subjectification, then, is the semasiological development of meanings associated with a form such that it comes to mark subjectivity explicitly.

A standard example of subjectification is the development of the epistemic senses of must. In the deontic reading, must expresses obligation: Mary must go home now. In the epistemic reading, as in Mary must be home by now, it expresses the speaking subject’s personal conviction rather than a situation that exists independently of the speaker’s judgement: the speaker believes that he or she can conclude with some certainty that Mary has reached her destination. A precise analysis of the word’s history is required to establish whether the alleged order of development is indeed correct, but also to identify bridging contexts that support the idea that subjectification comes about through invited inferences. Traugott and Dasher’s minute analysis of the history of must (2002: 120–137) includes a number of Middle English examples in which a deontic and an epistemic reading seem to co-exist. The general notion of subjectification encompasses a number of more specific types. One of these involves the emergence of evaluative meanings, such as boor ‘unmannered person’ from boor ‘farmer’. Another, which features prominently in Sweetser’s seminal monograph on semantic change and polysemy patterns (1990), concerns the rise of textual and metalinguistic uses, such as when in fact develops into a discourse marker. In a passage like the following, in fact indicates that the second utterance is a more elaborate version of the first one, in particular, a more precise formulation than the first: It’s purple. In fact, it’s mauve. In cases like these, in fact signals the discourse relationship between the two utterances, rather than describing any fact outside the text.

5. Gaps and directions The previous pages have made clear that cognitive semantics contributes substantially to the research programme originally defined by historical-philological semantics. But, taking this perspective for granted, where are the major lacunae, and how could the programme be further developed? Critical gaps seem to lie rather on the side of the interplay between system and usage than on the side of the conceptual mechanisms of change. This is not to say that there


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is no room for further development in the field of metaphor and metonymy and the other pathways of change, but rather that the fundamental issues are fairly well identified in that area, and already guide the development of the research efforts: what exactly are the dominant conceptual mechanisms of change, and how universal are they? A rich spectrum of more specific topics for research follows from this overall question, and if diachronic studies in cognitive semantics gain momentum, we can look forward to an abundance of descriptions and analyses in this field. The papers collected in this volume amply testify to the fruitfulness of the cognitive perspective (a feature that is put into a historical perspective in Margaret Winters’s introductory chapter): the chapters by Małgorzata Fabiszak and Anna Hebda, by Heli Tissari, by Richard Trim and by Andreas Musolff illustrate the impact of cognitive linguistics on the historical study of metaphor, while the chapter by Kathryn Allan advances our knowledge of metonymical changes. The article contributed by Liesbet Heyvaert and Hubert Cuyckens, and that by Silvia Luraghi, achieve a further extension of the perspective (and one that received little attention in the overview presented in the pages above), viz. towards the study of diachronic syntax – or more precisely, towards the diachronic semantics of syntactic phenomena. The other main perspective, relating to the interplay of system and usage, is not absent from the present collection either. The paper by Louise Sylvester shows how the attention for the conceptual mechanisms of change (the system level) is directly relevant for the interpretation of older texts (the usage level). While Sylvester’s paper is geared towards the practice of philological interpretation, the paper by Roslyn Frank and Nathalie Gontier takes a theoretical stance: it proposes a conceptual dynamic system view of language as an appropriate model to deal with the interaction of structure and use. Now, precisely with regard to these dialectics of system and usage, it is possible to point to two fundamental factors that will need to receive more attention to complete the picture: the importance of an onomasiological perspective, and the importance of a social perspective. Paying attention to the social mechanisms of language change is crucial because the theoretical picture that we have at the moment still focuses predominantly on individual processes. Specifically, we need to be aware that the invited inferencing theory of semantic change, is a refined model of the contextual specification of meaning, but does not entirely explain the process of conventionalization. If new meanings arise through the conventionalization of implicatures, then the recognition of the implicature by the hearer/speaker is only a first step: numerous language users have to do the same for the new reading to become conventional. Rudi Keller (1994) has introduced a revealing terminol-

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ogy to describe this kind of phenomenon. Borrowing a term from economical theory, he suggests that linguistic change may be described as an “invisible hand” process. As applied to economic theory, the invisible hand metaphor involves two levels of analysis. On the micro-level, the economic life of a community consists of countless individual actions and transactions. Macro-economically, however, these individual actions result in global phenomena, such as inflation or an economic boom. Crucially, the individuals who engage in the basic transactions do not have the conscious private intention of, for instance, changing the rate of inflation. Nor do they act in accordance with a collective decision. Rather, phenomena like inflation are a cumulative consequence on the macro-level of a myriad of individual acts on the micro-level. Similarly, changes spread through a linguistic community as if guided by an invisible force, whereas the actual process involves a multitude of communicative acts. The invisible hand metaphor, however, stops short of indicating precisely how the transition from the individual level to the global level occurs. What exactly are the mechanisms that enable the cumulative effects? Logically speaking, two situations may occur: either the changes work in parallel, or they take place serially. The first situation occurs when members of a speech community are confronted with the same communicative, expressive problem, and independently choose the same solution. The spread of a word like computer over many languages may at least to some extent have proceeded in this way. More or less simultaneously, a number of people face the problem of giving a name to the new thing in their native language; independently of each other, they then adopt the original name that comes with the newly introduced object. The second type occurs when the members of a speech community imitate each other. For instance, when one person introduces a loan word, a few others may imitate the initiator, and they in turn may be imitated by others, and so on. In the same way, the overall picture of a traffic jam is one in which a great number of cars appear to be halted by an invisible hand, while what actually happens is a cumulative process of individual actions: when the first car brakes to avoid a dog running over the highway, the car behind him has to slow down to avoid an accident, and so on. But while these models of parallel and serial development are entirely plausible, our actual knowledge of the forces that determine how specific concepts evolve, is still relatively poor: the social nature of semantic conventionalization and linguistic change is generally acknowledged, but seldom studied systematically. In the broader context of cognitive linguistics, such a social reorientation of diachronic studies will link up with the current emergence of a socially and variationally oriented form of research: see Kristiansen and Dirven (2008), Harder (2010), Geeraerts, Kristiansen and Peirsman (2010).


Dirk Geeraerts

Further, a social perspective on language change leads automatically to an onomasiological perspective. In the history of diachronic semantics, the onomasiological perspective was never the dominant one, and where it came to the fore (as in the Wörter und Sachen movement, or in the lexical field studies of the structuralist era), it was primarily situated at the level of language structure, not at the level of language use. Even the “quantitative” onomasiological perspective introduced by Blank and Koch’s typological lexicogenetics is still situated at the level of language structure: the basic data are lexical items with an entrenched position in a language, not the choices language users make at the level of usage. The question this kind of research addresses is more readily paraphrased as “Why did language x opt for such or such lexicogenetic mechanism?”, rather than “Why do language users in a given context seem to prefer alternative a instead of b?”. But if one looks more closely, the latter question underlies the former: how specific lexicogenetic mechanisms reach a dominant position within a language or a group of languages depends on the onomasiological choices that language users make in specific usage contexts. Ultimately, the choices that language users make are not semasiological choices about how to use a given expression, but onomasiological choices about how to categorize something and which expression to use to communicate that categorization. Only such a pragmatic onomasiology might lead to an insight in the invisible hand processes that promote a given onomasiological possibility to an entrenched position in the language. Linguistic changes are always mediated through onomasiological choices made on the level of actual language use. Words and constructions die out because speakers refuse to choose them, and expressions are added to the inventory of a language because some speakers introduce them and others imitate these speakers; similarly, expressions change their value within the language because people start using them in different circumstances. Change, in other words, is the ouput of processes that are properly studied in the context of pragmatic onomasiology. Such a pragmatic, usage-based perspective includes a social point of view: in choosing among existing alternatives, the individual language user takes into account their sociolinguistic, non-referential value, and conversely, the expansion of a change over a language community is the cumulative effect of individual choices. In short, a socially enriched pragmatic onomasiology may well be the major next step that needs to be taken in the development of a usage-based model of linguistic change.

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Index action nominals 139, 156 addressee 103–104, 119 affection 208, 249, 302 allative 119–120, 125–126, 128 analogy 18–19, 32–34, 52–56, 74–76, 79–80, 155 – analogical change 12 basic-level properties 229, 232 benefactum 95–98, 117–118, 127–128 beneficiary 95–101, 105–117, 125–127 – behalf beneficiary (BB) 97–99, 110, 114–115 – proto-typical vs. non-prototypical 95, 98–100 – recipient beneficiary (RB) 99–101, 105–106, 112 beneficient 95–98, 101, 117–118, 128 body 71–73, 235, 285–286, 316–317, 322 body politic 73–84 categorization 9, 16–18, 39, 182, 200– 201, 228–229, 253, 335–336, 350 – color see color categories chaining 228–229 Chaucer 211–214, 242–245, 247–254 cognitive semantics 5–14, 200, 205, 224, 333–334, 339–340, 343–348 cognitive sociolinguistics 14, 45 see also social cognitive linguistics color categories 9, 237–238 complements/complementation 133–135 complex adaptive systems (CAS) 36–45, 51–52, 54–55 computational linguistics 38–39, 52 conceptual change 3, 20–21, 241, 265, 317 conceptual history 70–71, 73, 84–85 conceptual metaphor 71–72, 226–235, 255–256, 262–263, 298–299, 322, 344–345 – long/short term 231–233, 242– 248, 253–255

– of emotion 242–247, 263–265, 276–278, 285–287, 298–299, 313, 320, 323–324 conceptual networking 227–229, 237– 239, 241 concrete beneficiary (CB) 99, 107–110, 112–118, 127–128 construal 199–202 contiguity 166–168 continuum (metaphor-metonymy-literal language) 167–168, 182 conventionalization 16, 164–165, 174, 182–184, 338–339, 341, 348–349 core concepts 226, 229 corpora and corpus data 135–136, 262–263, 266–267, 301, 308 – historical corpora 135, 165, 263, 266, 301 corpus linguistics 11, 14, 22 cyclic patterns 234 dative case 103–105, 112–115, 119–120 decategorialization 151, 156 description and evaluation of circumstances 304 dictionaries and dictionary data 165, 169–170, 198, 201, 205–216, 338 Dictionary of Old English Corpus 266, 274, 293 directionality of change 7–9, 224–225, 254–255, 343 discourse history/tradition 71–73, 83–85 distributed and situated cognition 45– 52, 54–56, 85, 262 domains 166, 229, 234–237, 345 – domain matrix 166 Early Modern English 134, 138, 140, 304–306, 309–312, 315, 317, 321–322 emotion/ emotions 153–155, 225, 239–242, 263–266, 276–278, 298– 304, 313–323



– conceptual metaphors of emotion see conceptual metaphor – desirability of emotions 306–312, 321 epistemic meaning 6–8, 224, 347 evolution of language, evolutionary linguistics 20, 36–38, 41–42, 46–47, 55–56, 72, 85 evolution of metaphors 46–47, 72, 85, 223–226 external possessor 104–105 extra-linguistic/language-external factors in change 18, 171–175, 177, 183–184 eyes 80, 316, 320 fable of the belly 70–71, 76 Generative Grammar 10, 15, 51 Generative semantics 5 genes 41, 52 genitive 93, 102–103, 115, 118, 120– 125, 139 gerundives 138–142, 145–152, 156 grammaticalization 13–14, 150–151, 155–156, 224, 345 Greek 78, 102, 112–118, 225, 246, 255 Helsinki Corpus of English Texts 266, 301 historical models 223–224, 230, 244– 245, 250–252 image schema 18, 226, 290–291 -ing- complements 133–135, 139–145, 147–152, 155–156 interpretative semantics 5 intra-linguistic factors in semantic change 173, 183 invited inference 236, 339, 340–342, 347–348 lexical fields see semantic/lexical field(s) linguemes 41, 52, 72

linguistic metaphor see metaphor literal language see continuum (metonymy-literal language) malefactive 101–102, 111–112, 115– 116, 124–125 material for object metonymy 168– 169, 171–175, 179–183 meaning see epistemic meaning, root meaning, spatial meaning, speech act meaning, texts and textual meaning mechanisms of semantic change 165, 174–175, 234, 335–337, 339, 343–350 memes 41, 52 merger (discontinuation of) 292 metalinguistic predicates 152 metaphor – conceptual metaphor see conceptual metaphor – discourse metaphor 47, 53, 278 – linguistic metaphor 226, 233, 254–255 – metaphor paths 224–226, 229– 233, 247, 252–255 – metaphoric attributes 228–229, 253 – metaphorical extensions (of meaning) 8, 14, 18–19, 84, 118–126, 128, 174 – metaphor-metonymy continuum see continuum – metaphor-metonymy-literal language continuum see continuum metonymy 178–184, 224, 265–266, 306, 340–344 – ad hoc 164–165, 174 – conventional/conventionalized 164– 165, 169–170, 174–176, 181–184 – metonymicity 172, 178–183 metonymic polysemy 164–165, 171, 174–175, 183–184

Index – metonymy-literal language continuum see continuum – post-metonymy see post-metonymy Middle English 139, 198–199, 208– 209, 242, 279–281, 285, 287–292 Middle English Dictionary 198–199, 209–210, 215–216 motion events 122–123 motivation 17–18, 80, 150, 165–167, 176–178, 183, 291, 345–346 Natural Morphology


obligatorification 151 Old English 213, 233, 266–267, 269– 271, 278–279, 288–293 onomasiology 175, 253, 346, 350 Oxford English Dictionary 165, 170– 171, 176, 215, 269, 302 personification 313–315, 322 polysemy 6, 8, 125, 163–164, 170, 253, 338, 345 – metonymic see metonymic polysemy post-metonymy 181 prepositions 6, 94, 100, 118–125, 156, 285, 318 prestructuralist semantics 334 prototype theory/prototype semantics 7, 253, 264, 342–343 prototypes/prototypicality 7, 10–11, 15–18, 200, 206, 213–215, 293 prototypical beneficiary see beneficiary – prototypical metaphor and metonymy 167–168, 182, 238 – prototypical weighting 253 purpose (as a semantic role) 125– 129 radial chaining 226 radial set see semantic set


reader (as participant in textual interpretation) 198–202, 206, 209–210, 213–214, 341 recipient 98–100, 117–119, 128 see also recipient beneficiary regeneration (of metaphor) 229–230, 236–237 regularity in semantic change 224–227, 255, 345–346 reification 313–315, 322 religious and non-religious texts/contexts 270–272, 280–281, 287–291, 308– 312 root meaning 6–8 salience 47, 118, 173–174, 223, 233– 239, 247, 252–255, 342, 345–346 scenario 81, 83–85, 263, 266, 287 semantic (radial) set 6–7, 14–16, 18 semantic change 155, 163–165, 183–184, 228, 252–254, 335–337, 339–348 semantic divergence 148 semantic/lexical field(s) 199, 228–229, 265–266, 350 semantic restructuring 291–292 semantic roles 95, 102–103, 124–129 semasiology, semasiological approach 175, 253, 266–267, 342, 350 – semasiological load 253–254 social cognitive linguistics 42, 45 see also cognitive sociolinguistics – social factors in language change 18–19, 348 – social perspective(s) on language change/use 45, 206, 236, 292, 310–311, 348–350 socio-cultural situatedness 38–39, 45, 50, 85, 262 spatial orientation/spatial meaning 9, 94, 118–124, 225–226 speech act meaning 7–8, 153–154, 342 stigmergy 45–47 subjectification 224, 346–347



substitution (as a semantic notion) 97– 99, 121–122, 126 synchrony 5–6 – relationship to diachrony 3, 8–16, 18–22, 48, 164–165, 237, 323 synergic cognition 262 synonymy 175, 253 syntactic coalescence 151, 156 system and usage 337–339, 347–348 texts and textual meaning 78, 84–85, 198–202, 205, 210 that- complements 138–147, 152–155 typology 14, 345–346 – of beneficiary 101

universality/universal features of language 14, 22, 72–73, 226, 232, 234, 344–345 usage-based models 47–49, 56, 333, 339–340, 350 variation 14, 18, 45, 342, 349 – as a stage in language change 14, 18 – in complementation 133–135 – cross-cultural variation 226–227, 263 – metaphor variation 72, 78, 80, 85, 226–227, 231–235, 250 – within-culture variation 227, 234, 250, 253