Wälchli, Bernhard; Cysouw, Michael
Lexical typology through similarity semantics: Toward a semantic map of motion verbs.
In: Linguistics, Vol. 50, No. 3: pp. 671-710
This paper discusses a multidimensional probabilistic semantic map of lexical motion verb stems based on data collected from parallel texts (viz. translations of the Gospel according to Mark) for 100 languages from all continents. The crosslinguistic diversity of lexical semantics in motion verbs is illustrated in detail for the domain of `go', `come', and `arrive' type contexts. It is argued that the theoretical bases underlying probabilistic semantic maps from exemplar data are the isomorphism hypothesis (given any two meanings and their corresponding forms in any particular language, more similar meanings are more likely to be expressed by the same form in any language), similarity semantics (similarity is more basic than identity), and exemplar semantics (exemplar meaning is more fundamental than abstract concepts).