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Language-specific meanings in contrast: A corpus-based contrastive study of Swedish fa 'get'
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Linguistics and Philology.
2012 (English)In: Linguistics, ISSN 0024-3949, E-ISSN 1613-396x, Vol. 50, no 6, 1413-1461 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The present paper presents a study of the meaning potential of the Swedish verb f (a) over circle 'get' in a contrastive perspective. The meaning potential represents the total set of senses of a word and their relationships. The verb f (a) over circle has a complex pattern of polysemy and grammaticalization including lexical as well as modal, aspectual and causative grammatical meanings and the interpretation of f (a) over circle in text is based on syntactic, lexical semantic and pragmatic cues. The total set of meanings form a very language-specific pattern. Data consist of close to 1 000 occurrences of f (a) over circle in a multilingual parallel corpus consisting of extracts from 10 Swedish original novels and their translations into English, German, French and Finnish. If the meaning 'come to possess (something concrete)' is regarded as the prototypical meaning, f (a) over circle has rather direct equivalents in English get, German bekommen and kriegen and Finnish saada, whereas French lacks a clear equivalent already in this sense. With respect to most of the other senses (or uses), the meaning potential of f (a) over circle is more or less unique in relation to the other languages except for Finnish saada. The major aim of the present paper is to describe how unique meaning patterns can be expressed in other languages. A study of the translation patterns reveals extensive use of syntactic restructuring to render certain meanings or the use of verbs with very different meaning potentials which overlap only partly with that of f (a) over circle. The latter applies in particular to the modal meanings and the very language-specific combination of the seemingly contradictory meanings permission and obligation. Not only are verbs with other basic meanings than 'get, come to possess' used as translations in the other languages but distinctions between modal meanings are drawn in different ways. The results of the contrastive study are briefly discussed also within a typological framework.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 50, no 6, 1413-1461 p.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-188579DOI: 10.1515/ling-2012-0044ISI: 000311035900010OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-188579DiVA: diva2:578354
Available from: 2012-12-18 Created: 2012-12-17 Last updated: 2012-12-18Bibliographically approved

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Viberg, Åke
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