Chapter published in:Crossroads Semantics: Computation, experiment and grammar
Edited by Hilke Reckman, Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng, Maarten Hijzelendoorn and Rint Sybesma
[Not in series 210] 2017
► pp. 227–248
Meaning between algebra and culture
Auto-antonyms in the Ewe verb lexicon
Semanticists continue to debate questions like: are meanings about “things in the world” or “things in the mind”? Are meanings about algebraic calculations or about cultural conceptions? How are multiple senses of a word related? This chapter explores some of these questions through a detailed semantic analysis of two verbs in Ewe (Gbe), a Kwa language of West Africa. I argue that the senses of the verbs involve directional opposition: mie ‘germinate/dry up’ and dró ‘put load up on/down from head’. As such they are auto-antonyms. From a logical point of view, the interpretations of the verb mie may not look antonymous, but from the perspective of cultural practices and conceptualisations the image schematic representations go in opposite direction. I propose Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM)-inspired semantic representations for the verbs which show the contrasts transparently.
Keywords: auto-antonymy, polysemy, meaning construction, three levels of meaning, placement verbs, directional opposition, converse, reversive, Ewe
Published online: 12 April 2017
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