Polysemy through metonymy
The case of Meithei pí ‘grandmother’
In Meithei, a Tibeto-Burman language of Northeast India, the noun pí ‘grandmother’ has undergone divergent paths of semantic change, developing on the one hand into a productive nominalizer and on the other into suffixes whose meanings are derived through metonymical extensions (SMALLER VERSION, BEST EXEMPLAR, SALIENT CHARACTERISTIC, PROJECTION, INSTRUMENT and AGENT). The Meithei data illustrate the role of culture in metonymic change and the role of metonymic change in creation of productive and lexicalized morphology.
Published online: 28 July 2004