Publication details [#2625]

Blank, Andreas. 1997. Prinzipien des lexikalischen Bedeutungswandels am Beispiel der romanischen Sprachen. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer. xvi, 533 pp.
Publication type
Book – monograph
Publication language


Coming from a semantic-structuralist background, Blank has managed - unlike other Romance historical linguists such as Coseriu (see Coseriu 2000) - to adopt an open attitude towards the new theoretical prospects opened up by cognitive linguistics, towards which he was gradually developing, as appears from his edited volume (Blank and Koch 1999). In' Prinzipien', he is still wavering between some basic tenets of Saussurean structuralism and the full consequences of the cognitive paradigm change. This is manifested most clearly in his belief in a fundamental split between linguistic meaning and encyclopedic information. Whereas cognitive linguists such as Geeraerts (1988) and many other lexicologists maintain that it is impossible to establish any clear borderline here, Blank still defends the absolute validity of this. While in cognitive linguistics the far more sophisticated view prevails (especially see Taylor 2002) that while we can make a distinction between what is prototypically linguistic meaning and what is prototypically encyclopedic information, it is also maintained that there are no criteria available for establishing any clear borderline between the two. Blank still sticks to the traditional structuralist view, first laid down by Saussure, that meaning is an autonomous system, only indirectly related to the conceptual system. But since encyclopedic knowledge is an essential component of the conceptual system, the basic theorem of structuralism is no longer tenable. If encyclopedic knowledge is intimately intertwined with linguistic expressions, how is it possible to banish the conceptual system from the linguistic system? (René Dirven)