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Words and MeaningsLexical Semantics Across Domains, Languages, and Cultures$
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Cliff Goddard and Anna Wierzbicka

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199668434

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199668434.001.0001

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Sweet, hot, hard, heavy, rough, sharp

Sweet, hot, hard, heavy, rough, sharp

Physical-quality words in cross-linguistic perspective

(p.55) 3 Sweet, hot, hard, heavy, rough, sharp
Words and Meanings

Cliff Goddard

Anna Wierzbicka

Oxford University Press

All languages have words such as English sweet, hot, hard, heavy, rough, and sharp, which attribute qualities to things. What is less often recognised is that the meanings of such words can differ significantly between languages. This chapter maps out how such descriptors can be explicated in terms of simpler meanings and shows how the cross-linguistic differences can be pinned down, illustrating with examples from French, Polish and Korean. It emerges that, far from representing objective properties of things “as such”, physical quality concepts refer to embodied human experiences and embodied human sensations. The chapter includes detailed discussion of differing metaphorical extensions of ‘hard’, ‘heavy’ and ‘sharp’ in English and Polish.

Keywords:   adjectives, physical qualities, metaphor

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