Edited by Merle Horne and Mikael Roll
[The Mental Lexicon 5:2] 2010
► pp. 163–179
This paper explores meaning change, especially how listeners and readers handle polysemy, a topic which has come to the forefront of attention in recent years. It discusses in particular words for catastrophic events, which perhaps because of their dramatic content, seem to be prone to polysemy. The paper will look first at word class differences associated with the lexical item devastate, and will consider how their meanings differ. It will then evaluate the various meanings of the word disaster, looking particularly at clues which enable readers to distinguish the different senses. Finally, it looks at the newspaper language used to report an event which was widely labeled a disaster, the so-called 9/11 disaster, and considers journalists’ descriptions of the event.
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