How similar are semantic categories in closely related languages? A comparison of cutting and breaking in four Germanic languages

Asifa Majid, Marianne Gullberg, Mirjam van Staden, Melissa Bowerman

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29 Citations (Scopus)
3717 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Are the semantic categories of very closely related languages the same? We present a new methodology for addressing this question. Speakers of English, German, Dutch and Swedish described a set of video clips depicting cutting and breaking events. The verbs elicited were then subjected to cluster analysis, which groups scenes together based on similarity (determined by shared verbs). Using this technique, we find that there are surprising differences among the languages in the number of categories, their exact boundaries, and the relationship of the terms to one another[--]all of which is circumscribed by a common semantic space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-194
JournalCognitive Linguistics
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics

Keywords

  • categorization
  • verb semantics
  • Swedish
  • Dutch
  • German
  • English
  • Germanic languages
  • cut and break
  • separation events
  • cluster analysis
  • semantic map

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