Streams of words: hydrological lexicon in Jahai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article investigates hydrological lexicon in Jahai, a Mon-Khmer language of the Malay Peninsula. Setting out from an analysis of the structural and semantic properties as well as the indigenous vs. borrowed origin of lexicon related to drainage, it teases out a set of distinct lexical systems for reference to and description of hydrological features. These include (1) indigenous nominal labels subcategorised by metaphor, (2) borrowed nominal labels, (3) verbals referring to properties and processes of water, (4) a set of motion verbs, and (5) place names. The lexical systems, functionally diverse and driven by different factors, illustrate that principles and strategies of geographical categorisation can vary systematically and profoundly within a single language.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • Jahai, Lexical semantics, Loanwords, Metaphor, Motion verbs, Place names
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-199
JournalLanguage Sciences
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic 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)