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C4 - Polysemy and metaphors as a challenge for mental representations

Semantic approaches to representations refer to the content of linguistic signs. Moreover, they consider the dynamics of their mental representation in light of their use in situated communicative contexts. Linguistic expressions are then regarded as access points to semantic representations. On the one hand, using positional verbs (sitzen, stehen, liegen etc.) as an example, it can be analyzed how semantic change  (e.g., metonymization and metaphorization processes) can be conceived of as a shift of mental representations. On the other hand, it can be investigated to what extent utterances with positional verbs can be modelled as constructions.

Doctoral projects in C4 address students with an interest in variation linguistics, historical linguistics, construction grammar, cognitive semantics, metaphor theory, corpus linguistics, corpus pragmatics and language acquisition (metaphors). This project connects variation linguistics and cognitive linguistics. This is especially true in regard to theory building based on the approaches of construction grammar, metaphor theory and representational semantics derived from corpus data.

Possible topics include:

  • Representations in transition: a diachronic investigation of positional verbs with regard to their role in establishing text type-specific respectively genre-specific meanings.
  • A cognitive semantic analysis of factors that qualify positional verbs for their grammatical peculiarities.
  • An investigation of the acquisition of constructions of positional verbs with a metaphorical meaning.