A two-dimensional approach to the study of motivation in lexical typology and its first application to French high-frequency vocabulary
‘Morphological’ and ‘semantic’ motivation are not just two types (Ullmann 1966), but two interrelated dimensions of the problem of lexical motivation. For instance, Fr. poire ‘pear’ — poirier ‘pear-tree’ expresses the same cognitive relation as the polysemy of Russ. gruša, and, at the same time, polysemy is only one formal device among others expressing cognitive relations that underlie lexical motivation. So the two dimensions of formal and cognitive relations in motivation only exist in combination. A sub-dimension of the formal aspect of motivation is the degree of formal transparency (cf. Fr. jouer ‘to play a game’ — jeu ‘game’). This factorization in different dimensions leads to a universally applicable grid for the description of lexical motivation. As a first step of a future comparative research project of lexical motivation in different languages it is applied to the 500 most frequent lexical words of French and yields a systematic motivational profile of French high-frequency vocabulary. In Section 5.3 the French pilot study is discussed in view of an approach to lexical typology which could be applied to any other language.
Published online: 06 April 2007
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