International Chair 2022 - Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm (Stockholm University)



We are pleased to welcome Professor Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm (Stockholm University) for a series of four seminars on the theme "Extending the empirical foundations of lexical semantics: lexical typology in a broader context".


Her seminars will take place on Fridays September 30 and October 7, 14 and 21, 2022 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm at the CNRS Campus of Villejuif, 7 rue Guy Môquet 94800 Villejuif - Salle de conférence.

Session 1 - Friday, September 30, 2022 - 2-4pm


Lexical typology and morphology: basic vs. complex lexical expressions

Lexical typology is the systematic study of cross-linguistic variation in words and vocabularies (cf. Koch 2001, Brown 2001, Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2008 and Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Rakhilina, & Vanhove 2015 for overviews), whereas morphology is the study of the internal structure of words. Although both have words as their shared concern, the overlap between the two remains largely implicit. The seminar (partly based on Koptjevskaja-Tamm & Veselinova 2020) will mainly be devoted to one particular aspect of words pertinent to both lexical typology and morphology, namely, how the lexicon is organized in terms of the structurally more basic vs. more complex lexical expressions. Which meanings can be expressed by the structurally more basic vs. more complex lexical items in a language? How do the more complex lexical units look like and how is their meaning distributed across the whole complex expression? Among other things, we will consider to what extent antonymy across languages can involve the opposition between the structurally more basic vs. more complex lexical items (Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Miestamo & Börstell in prep.).

Session 2 - Friday, October 07, 2022 - 14h-16h


Lexical typology, areality and cross-linguistic lexical databases

Contact lexico-semantics and areal lexico-semantics (Ameka & Wilkins 1996, Koptjevskaja-Tamm & Liljegren 2017, Schapper, Koptjevskaja-Tamm & Ameka (eds.) 2022) are concerned with the diffusion of semantic features across language boundaries rather than with lexical borrowing. Lexico-semantic phenomena have, with a few exceptions (e.g. Matisoff 2004, Enfield 2003, Smith-Stark 1994, Hayward 1991, 2000), received remarkably little attention from areal linguistics and areal typology, as opposed to morpho-syntactic and phonological features. The seminar will focus on various approaches to the study of areal patterns in polysemy (colexification) and lexical motivation. Among other things, we will discuss to what extent cross-linguistic lexical databases can be used to gain a better understanding of global patterns of lexical organization and of their areal distributions (following Gast & Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2018, 2022).

Session 3 - Friday, October 14, 2022 - 2pm-4pm


Dynamics of lexical semantic systems: talking temperature with close relatives

There is a long tradition of research on lexical/semantic change, etymological sources and lexical replacement, recently extended to cross-linguistic comparison and boosted by the use of statistical modelling (cf. Koch 2016, Tadmor et al. 2010, Pagel et al. 2007). These studies normally focus on individual words, whereas closely related languages often show significant typological differences in categorization of whole cognitive domains (cf. Majid & Dunn 2015). However, there is relatively little connection between the research on change in individual words and the one focusing on the intra-genetic comparison of whole systems (cf. Vejdemo et al. 2015 and Koptjevskaja-Tamm et al. 2010 for combining both perspectives). This seminar will be devoted to a careful examination of the semantic systems used to categorize the domain of temperature in several groups of closely related languages (partly following Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2022a). The comparison targets both the systems as a whole and the forms involved in them, and the overarching issue here is intra-genetic constancy vs. variation, or stability vs. change. An additional challenge for such a comparison stems from the close interaction between lexicon and grammar in the encoding of the temperature domain across languages. As a useful tool for tackling this I will introduce an elaborated three-layered semantic map (following Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2022b).


Session 4 - Friday, October 21, 2022 - 2pm-4pm


Lexical typology and cognitive semantics: extended uses of temperature terms

Metaphoric and metonymic processes, are a central concern of cognitive semantics (e.g. Geeraerts & Cuyckens eds. 2007, Dąbrowska & Divjak eds. 2015), but this theory has on the whole operated with a limited number of languages. In fact, very few of the allegedly “universal” metaphors have been subject to systematic large-scale cross-linguistic comparison (some of the rare exceptions include thinking as perceiving, cf. Sweetser 1900, Evans & Wilkins 2000, Vanhove 2008, and instrument as companion, Stolz et al. 2006). This seminar will focus on extended uses of temperature expressions, i.e. their uses outside of the temperature domain proper, among others on uses commonly viewed as metaphors, e.g. warm words (Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2015, Koptjevskaja-Tamm & Nikolaev 2021). We will look at the areal and genetic patterns in such uses and in their absence across a large cross-linguistic sample and discuss to what extent the findings provide evidence for vs. against the allegedly universal conceptual metaphors suggested for some of such uses (Lakoff & Johnson 1999, Kövecses 2003).