On the polysemy of motion verbs in Ancient Greek and Coptic
Why lexical constructions are important
In this paper, we propose a constructional analysis of the meanings of two generic motion verbs in Ancient Greek and Coptic (Sahidic dialect), the verbs baínō and bôk, respectively, both of which are glossed as ‘go’ and are characterized by extensive polysemy. We argue that an adequate analysis of these meanings can only be achieved in a framework that recognizes lexical constructions at the level of the verb sense, showing that each meaning correlates with encoding features (ranging from morpho-syntactic to semantic, discursive, and lexical ones) that are not predictable, or at best are only partially motivated. Through extensive corpus analysis, we identify such significant, frequency-based patterns of correlation, each of which represents a lexical construction. Our data thus argue strongly for an approach to polysemy in which individual meanings are represented as enriched lexical constructions, which include morphological and discursive specifications (in addition to standard valence information).
Keywords: lexical constructions, polysemy, motion verbs, Ancient Greek, Coptic (Sahidic dialect)
Published online: 06 May 2020
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