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English ‘Joyful’ Vocabulary – Semantic Developments


Angelina Żyśko

The book offers a novel exploration into the semantic development of English terms concerning the concept of ‘joy’ («bliss», «cheer», «delight», «dream», «game», «gladness», «glee», «joy», and «mirth»). The analysis, carried out within the framework of cognitive and historical linguistics, employs the notions of cognitive domains, profiling, and categorisation. The author adopts a panchronic perspective, according to which language reflects the way speakers experience the world. This allows her to provide a new insight into the intrinsic nature of semantic change.

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Chapter 2: Cognitive Linguistics and Panchrony


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Chapter 2:   Cognitive Linguistics and Panchrony

2.1   Introduction

We have seen so far that one possible way of grouping lexical items can be captured in terms of semantic fields, or, as we try to redefine it in Chapter 2, cognitive domains. The question we want to ask now is that of the motivating forces behind suchlike groupings. In other words, if we have a group of words that we can bring together into a homogenous set, there must be some explanation for doing so, some well-justified and well-grounded reason why this is at all plausible. The justification for this line of research now comes from functionally-oriented linguists, such as Ronald Langacker (2008: 88; emphasis changed):

It is not a matter of deciding categorically whether a certain combination is or is not grammatical, but rather of ascertaining the kind and degree of motivation it has in view of all relevant factors. Hence the dictum in cognitive linguistics is that, while virtually everything is motivated, very little is subject to absolute predictability.

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