Cognitive, cultural, and constructional motivations of polysemy and semantic change
The case of the Greek psuche
Within the framework of cognitive linguistics and construction grammar (as in Lakoff 1987; Langacker 2000; Goldberg 1995; and Fried and Östman 2004), it is claimed in this paper that the semantics of psuche (psyche) is motivated by cognitive, cultural, and constructional parameters of meaning. More specifically, it is argued that psyche, as the immaterial nature of a human being, and the seat of emotions and feelings in particular, is understood in terms of image-based metaphors, a cultural model of the self, and a cultural narrative of existence. It is also argued that the frequent occurrence of psyche in a number of collocations and idioms motivates and constrains constructional meaning. At the same time, constructions motivate extended senses of this word, thereby contributing to its polysemy and ultimately to semantic change. The evidence presented within this framework argues against a fixed borderline between lexical and constructional meaning. This view, long and tacitly adopted in lexicographic practice by necessity, is gaining further support within current research in the framework of lexicography (Fillmore 2008; Hanks 2008), corpus linguistics (Fellbaum 2007), lexical semantics (Taylor et al. 2003), language change (Bybee 2006a), and construction grammar (Boas 2008).