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Polysemy in Basque Locational Cases

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Basque, a language spoken on both sides of the western Pyrenees, has rich lexical and grammatical resources for expressing space. It has five different locational cases and over thirty locational postpositions, mostly spatial nouns which can take any of the locational casesuffixes. The five locational cases of Basque are locative -n, ablative -ti(k), allative -ra(t), terminative allative -raino, and directional allative -rantz. Most accounts of locational cases are good sources for descriptive as well as etymological information. However, when it comes to explaining and understanding conceptualizations of space and motion in Basque, these studies do not offer any insights. They usually provide a list of different grammatical and semantic usages, but no explanation for their motivation, their internal structure and organization, or their linguistic realization. These three issues will be the main focus of this paper. Taking Cognitive Linguistics as my theoretical framework, I will argue that the different polysemous senses, spatial and non-spatial, of Basque locational cases can be understood as complex lexical networks organized around central spatial prototypical meanings. These prototypical meanings are structured by means of image schemas and their role bindings. The other senses of locational cases are motivated semantic extensions deriving from the prototypical spatial senses and linked to them by means of compositional polysemy and cognitive mechanisms such as metaphor.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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