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The Body in Language: Observations from Grammaticalization

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Chapter Summary

The relationship between language and the (human) body has been approached from a wide range of angles. The concern of the chapter is more generally with patterns of cognitive transfer whereby the use of a term for a body part is extended to also express concepts belonging to other domains of human experience. The process concerned is creative in nature. The approach adopted in the chapter is diachronic and typological in nature. By applying grammaticalization theory it aims at reconstructing regularities in the evolution of conceptual transfer across languages. The chapter presents a brief overview of the methodology employed and deals with three paradigm domains of transfers involving body parts and giving rise to new grammatical forms and categories, namely spatial orientation, reference identity and numerals.

Keywords: grammaticalization; human experience; language; reference identity; spatial orientation



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