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Evolving Nature of the English Language

Studies in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics

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Edited By Robert Kiełtyka and Agnieszka Uberman

This volume presents a collection of interdisciplinary papers pertaining to the most thought-provoking problems in the areas of both theoretical and applied linguistics. The contributors focus on contemporary developments in morphological, semantic and pragmatic theorizing. The contributions are also devoted to various aspects of the methodology of teaching English as well as some intricacies of translation.

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From Man to Machine: In Search of Regularity in Semasiological Development of Professional/Occupational Names (Piotr Cymbalista)

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Piotr Cymbalista

From MAN TO MACHINE: In Search of Regularity in Semasiological Development of Professional/Occupational Names

Abstract: This paper is devoted to a discussion of the semantic development of occupational names in English. The vocabulary in question is analysed from a semasiological perspective, in search for the possible regularities of semantic change. The linguistic material discussed points to the conclusion that the terms denoting jobs, professions and occupations are a very potent source of the conceptualizations responsible for one clearly discernible pattern of semasiological development, namely one which leads from the conceptual domain of WORKER to that of MACHINE/IMPLEMENT. The emergence of the analysed pattern of figurative (metaphorical) lexical sense development may be explained with the influence of extralinguistic context on meaning conceptualization.

Keywords: semantic change, regularity in semantic change, semasiological development, metaphor, professions, occupations

Introduction

Linguists had been attempting to identify any discernible laws or regularities in lexical semantic change even before Bréal (1883) published his famous essay1 in which he introduced the term “semantics” as the name for the otherwise long-practiced study of meaning and ventured to formulate what he called the “intellectual laws of language”. Nevertheless, what the late 19th- and early 20th-century researchers into meaning referred to as the laws governing the phenomenon of the change of lexical meaning was a far cry from the actually well-defined and dependable phonological laws formulated at much the same time. In the mid-20th century, Williams...

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