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Semantics of Hawrami Body Part Terms

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

Human body as a universal possession of human beings constitutes an interesting domain where questions regarding semantic categorisations might be sought crosslinguistically. In the following, we will attempt to describe the terms used to refer to the body in Hawrami, an Iranian language spoken in Paveh, a small township in the western province of Kermanshah near Iraqi borders. Due to the scarcity of written material, the inventory of 202 terms referring to external and internal body parts were obtained through a field work, which took a long time, and techniques, such as the “colouring task”, observation and recording the terms as used in ordinary conversations and informal interviews with native speakers. The semantic properties of the terms and the way they are related in a partonymy or locative relationship were also investigated. As far as universals of body part terms are concerned, while conforming to ‘depth principle’ concerning the number of levels each partonomy may consist of, Hawrami violates an important feature of this principle by not allowing transitive relations between different levels of partonomic hierarchies. In addition, Hawrami lacks a term for labelling the ‘whole’.


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