Semantic primes, semantic molecules, semantic templates: Key concepts in the NSM approach to lexical typology

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Title Semantic primes, semantic molecules, semantic templates: Key concepts in the NSM approach to lexical typology
Author Goddard, Cliff William
Journal Name Linguistics
Year Published 2012
Place of publication Germany
Publisher Walter de Gruyter
Abstract The Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach has a long track record in cross- linguistic lexical semantics (Wierzbicka 1992, 1996, 1999; Goddard 1998, 2005, 2006, 2008; Harkins and Wierzbicka 2001; Goddard and Wierzbicka 2002; Peeters 2006; Gladkova 2010; Ye 2007a, 2007b, 2010; Bromhead 2009, 2011; Wong 2005, 2010; and other works). It is therefore not surprising that it has a clear theoretical position on key issues in lexical semantic typology and a well-developed set of analytical techniques. From a theoretical point of view, the overriding issue concerns the tertium comparationis. What are the optimal concepts and categories to support the systematic investigation of lexicons and lexicological phenomena across the world’s languages? To this question, the NSM approach offers the following answer: the necessary concepts can—and must—be based on the shared lexical-conceptual core of all languages, which NSM researchers claim to have discovered over the course of a thirty-five year program of empirical cross-linguistic semantics. This shared lexical- conceptual core is the mini-language of semantic primes and their associated grammar. In addition, over the past 10 or so years, NSM researchers have developed certain original analytical constructs which promise to enhance the power and systematicity of the approach: in particular, the notions of semantic molecules and semantic templates. This paper sets out to explain and illustrate these notions, to report some key analytical findings (updated, in many cases, from previously published accounts), and to extrapolate their implications for the further development of lexical typology.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/ling-2012-0022
Copyright Statement Copyright 2012 Walter de Gruyter & Co. KG Publishers. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal website for access to the definitive, published version.
Volume 50
Issue Number 3
Page from 711
Page to 743
ISSN 1613-396X
Date Accessioned 2012-06-19
Date Available 2013-06-27T00:43:46Z
Language en_US
Research Centre Griffith Centre for Cultural Research
Faculty Arts, Education and Law
Subject Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics)
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/46996
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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