Pò (‘break’), qiē (‘cut’) and kāi (‘open’) in Chinese
A diachronic conceptual variational approach
This study explores the conceptual boundaries among break, cut and open from an under-investigated diachronic perspective and addresses the diachronic conceptual variations of Chinese pò (‘break’), qiē (‘cut’) and kāi (‘open’). The Center for Chinese Linguistics corpus is employed for the extraction of historical data. Correspondence analyses are conducted for uncovering the conceptual boundary variations among pò, qiē, and kāi. In doing so, this study, situated in Diachronic Prototype Semantics, has revealed that: (1) The conceptual ranges of pò, qiē and kāi greatly overlapped in ancient Chinese, but their division of labor becomes increasingly clear-cut in Mandarin. (2) By the stage of Modern Mandarin, these three lexical categories have formed their own prototypical structures and categorize separation events of state change in virtue of a lexical continuum “kāi-pò-qiē”. (3) Language selection, semantic specialization, as well as conceptual reorganization are proposed as contributing factors for these changes.
Keywords: conceptual boundaries, diachronic perspective, Diachronic Prototype Semantics, separation events of state change, lexical continuum
Published online: 17 August 2020
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