191 research outputs found

    Georg von der Gabelentz and 'das lautsymbolische Gefühl': a chapter in the history of iconicity research

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    In any future history of iconicity research, a chapter will have to be reserved to a singular figure in the history of linguistics: Georg von der Gabelentz (1840–1893). Only few scholars have paid attention to Gabelentz’ views on iconicity. Coseriu (1967: 97) mentions Gabelentz’ “interesting and fertile ideas” on sound symbolism, without further discussion, like Schuchardt (1897: 205) had done before him. The most comprehensive reference to date is a two-page summary of Gabelentz’ views on sound symbolism in Jakobson & Waugh (1987: 181-183). For the rest, it seems that Gabelentz’ observations have gone largely unnoticed in modern scholarship. In this article I therefore discuss some of his observations on sound symbolism as they can be found in his magnum opus 'Die Sprachwissenschaft' ([1891] 1901). Although reflections on the expressive values of sounds have a long tradition in Western thinking, Gabelentz is among the first scholars who turned the previously mostly intuitive and unsystematic presentations of this aspect of language into a more systematic approach based on a number of insightful conceptual distinctions. After Gabelentz, the role of sound symbolism has been increasingly discussed by scholars, e.g. Paul ([1880] 1909), Wundt (1900), Leskien (1902/1903), Rubinyi (1913), among others. However, it seems that the importance and the proper place of Gabelentz in this historical development has not been duly appreciated

    The universality of categories and meaning: a Coserian perspective

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    Studies in linguistic typology have challenged the idea that languages can be analyzed in terms of a set of preestablished universal categories. Each language should instead be described “in its own terms,” a view consistent with the ‘old’ structuralist paradigm in linguistics. The renewed orientation toward differences between languages raises two questions: (i) How do we identify the meanings which are assumed to be crosslinguistically comparable? (ii) What is the relationship between language-particular categories and comparative concepts commonly used in linguistic typology? To answer these questions, this article focuses on a number of distinctions advocated by Eugenio Coseriu (1921–2002). Coseriu distinguishes three levels of meaning (designation, “signifiés,” and sense) and three types of universals (essential, empirical, and possible universals). Their relevance for linguistic typology is discussed with regard to the expression of possession and a particular diathesis in Japanese, viz. ukemi or “indirect passive.” As well as relating language-particular categories and comparative concepts, Coseriu’s approach offers a promising avenue to account for the ways language-specific meanings interact with extralinguistic knowledge and contents of discourse and texts, which are the object of translation

    'Culturomics' and the representation of the language of the Third Reich in digitized German books

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    The article briefly reviews the major findings of a case study exploring the language of the Third Reich by means of the recently introduced computational tool Google Books Ngram Viewer (http://books.google.com/ngrams). This tool has been designed to investigate cultural trends and salient semiotic developments in history on the basis of the digital corpus of Google books on the World Wide Web. The aim of the article is to examine the reliability and overall usefulness of the new instrument for conducting fine-grained “culturomic” investigations on the basis of very large monolingual corpora

    Historiographia linguistica

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    Wortstellungsvariation und Konstruktionsverschmelzung

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    There are certain constraints on extracting prepositional phrases from noun phrases, in German as well as in many other languages; compare: Über dieses Thema schreibt sie ihre Hausarbeit; Über den Zweiten Weltkrieg hat er viele Bücher gelesen, but: *Über Magie haben sie alle Bücher vernichtet (Alle Bücher über Magie haben sie vernichtet), ??Über die Liebe möchte er ein Buch bestellen (Ein Buch über die Liebe möchte er bestellen). The extraction of prepositional phrases can be accommodated in a constructional account that goes beyond an explanation on pragmatic grounds. Clauses that instantiate two partly overlapping constructional templates – a kind of “pattern imbrication” – exhibit more word order variation than clauses realizing only one of the templates
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