Kabata, Kaori.

Japanese ni: A cognitive analysis of a lexically complex particle. - 232 p.

Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 62-05, Section: A, page: 1816. Adviser: Sally Rice.

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Alberta (Canada), 2000.

This dissertation addresses issues in lexical categorization. The main research question is how the meanings of a complex lexical item can best be represented. More specifically, I ask how many meanings are to be postulated, and whether and how these different meanings are related to each other. The focus of the study is on the Japanese particle, ni , whose senses are wide-ranging and span many different grammatical categories. Traditional models of lexical meaning or linguistic categorization simply cannot handle such diversity of behavior within a single lexical category in any coherent way. This study comprises a unified and empirically grounded analysis of ni's diverse behavior. Based on a detailed semantic analysis of an extensive array of synchronic data, I propose a network model for the semantic structure of ni, taking into account the highly polysemous nature of ni. By polysemous, I mean that one linguistic form is associated with multiple meanings. In fact, ni seems to be highly heterosemous (i.e., one form is associated with multiple meanings and grammatical functions) as a lexical item. The proposed domain-based model accommodates the diverse senses of ni by integrating them in terms of image schemas and metaphorical extensions. I argue that although ni exhibits extensive semantic diversity in its equally extensive syntactic distribution, such variation is far from random or idiosyncratic. Even seemingly contradictory senses exhibit some similarities when examined closely. The model is then subjected to assessment and evaluation by various empirical and experimental data. Data from a grammaticalization study of ni and similar particles in typologically diverse languages indicate how the semantic distribution that ni exhibits synchronically may be associated with the grammaticalization pathways that it has undergone through its semantic development. Data from a text count study, a child acquisition study, and a series of off-line psycholinguistic experiments, also support the main characteristics of the proposed model. It is claimed that a network model for this lexeme can best handle its complex syntactic behavior and semantic functions, although the specific configuration of any representational model is very much task- and context-dependent.


Language, Linguistics.
Language, Modern.


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