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Lexical semantics

Studying lexical semantics within a Cognitive Linguistics (CL) framework allows for a wide array of perspectives on word meaning. Central tenets concern views on lexical items as dynamically construed, organized in prototype categories, and applying multiple cognitive resources. Words represent in many senses an enigmatic interface between the complex human mind and social realities within which it functions. Lexical semantics in CL is therefore necessarily inclusive as to how word meaning is created since this arguably occurs at multiple levels of cognition and social interaction.

In Daniel Kjellander's research, lexical blends of the type smog (smoke + fog) and Brexit (Britain + exit) are studied. This type of word formation process displays many different characteristics of word structure and communicative strategies (see for instance Algeo, 1977; Fandrych, 2008; Beliaeva, 2014). The focus in this particular research project is the exploration of cognitive constraints driving the development and usage of lexical blends. In other words, what are the mechanisms, language typical or not, that govern the encoding and decoding of blends? Since the explanatory scope is considerable, a CL approach enables a combination of varying processes in order to achieve effective analyses (cf. Kemmer, 2003; Gries 2012).

Initially (and still) a phraseologist, Maria Helena Svensson (Mia) is now focusing on the ways in which we play with language. Features such as homonymy and polysemy allow us to do just that. In puns and other kinds of word play, ambiguity is explored when more than one meaning can be activated at the same time (cf. Delabastita 1993). This can also be true of figurative language and, of course, of so called fixed expressions (cf. Jaki 2014 and Mejri 2000)). We do play with formulaic language (or so called "prefabs") ; only if we recognize the expression that somebody deliberately changes (cf. the term défigement in French ; Lecler 2006 and Hassler & Hümmer 2005) in order to create an effect, do we make the association we are supposed to. But we do play with language on every level, not only with prefabricated sequences. In the study of word play, many of the fundamental functions of language are displayed.

Works Cited

Algeo, J. (1977). Blends, a Structural and Systemic View. American Speech, 52(1/2), 47.

Beliaeva, N. (2014). Unpacking contemporary English blends: Morphological structure, meaning,

processing. (Diss.), Victoria University of Wellington.

Delabastita, Dirk. (1993) There's a double tongue : an investigation into the translation of Shakespeare's wordplay, with special reference to Hamlet. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Fandrych, I. (2008). Pagad, Chillax and Jozi: A Multi-Level Approach to Acronyms, Blends, and

Clippings. Nawa: Journal of Language & Communication, 2(2), 71-88.

Gries, S. T. (2012). Quantitative Corpus Data on Blend Formation: Psycho- and Cognitive-linguistic

Perspectives. In V. Renner, P. Arnaud, V. Gast, & F. Maniez (Eds.), Cross-Disciplinary

Perspectives on Lexical Blending (pp. 145-167). Berlin: De Gruyter.

Hassler, Gerda & Christiane Hümmer (2005). "Figement et défigement polylexicales. L'effet des modifications dans les locutions figées". LINX, Revue des linguistes de l'Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense 53, pp. 103-119.

Jaki, Sylvia (2014). Phraseological substitutions in newspaper headlines: "More than Meats the Eye". John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam.

Kemmer, S. (2003). Schemas and Lexical Blends. In H. Cuyckens, T. Berg, & R. Dirven (Eds.),

Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science : Motivation in Language : Studies in honor of Günter Radden. Amsterdam, NL: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Lecler, Aude (2006). "Le défigement : un nouvel indicateur des marques du figement ?", Cahiers de praxématique 46, pp. 43-60.

Mejri, Salah (2000). "Traduction, poésie, figement et jeux de mots". Meta, volume 45, Numéro 3, septembre 2000, pp. 412-423.