- Lexicon

,  par Hervé BERNARD dit RVB

Lexis – Journal in English Lexicology is an e-journal. it publishes articles on the English lexicon (thematic issues, “book review” section, special issues, etc.), from a synchronic as well as from a diachronic perspective. Lexis accepts articles in English and in French.

Samples : about the verb to see, metaphor, creativity...

The Null Instantiation of Objects as a Polysemy-Trigger. A Study on the English verb See
Maria Ivana Lorenzetti
This paper argues that the phenomenon of the null instantiation of objects, i.e. the property of some transitive verbs to omit their direct complements, can be viewed as a polysemy-trigger. Our study, adopting a lexical complexity perspective, suggests that in the majority of cases verbs retain traits of their prototypical meaning, which becomes the starting point for possible inferences, contributing to the overall interpretative process, and leading to the dynamic emergence of different semantic interpretations and nuances through complex mechanisms of figure and ground.
Corpus-data on the verb see support the main typologies of null objects outlined, as well as the main factors attested to play a role in licensing null objects. Moreover, the deprofiling of the object in the case of a nuclear verb like see triggers the emergence of new pragmatic meanings, which cannot be derived from the lexical meanings of the various elements in a proposition taken in isolation, but which are interactionally-driven and surface in unpredictable ways, determining a progressive shift towards the cognitive dimension of the verb.

Power and Metaphor
Towards more Executive Power in American Presidents’ Inaugural Addresses ?
Rémi Digonnet
Through the study of various American presidents’ inaugural addresses, from F.D. Roosevelt’s first address to B. Obama’s second inaugural address, the powers of metaphor, either ornamental, cognitive, or political, will be highlighted before a thorough analysis of the metaphors of power, whether they be collective (military metaphors, architectural metaphors), individual (the president as the father, the master, the surgeon), or even divine. Conjointly taking metaphor and power into consideration will eventually help answer the following question : do power metaphors reflect the increasing executive powers conferred on the president over this period ?

X-phemism and creativity
Keith Allan
X-phemism motivates language change by promoting new expressions, or new meanings for old expressions, and causing some existing vocabulary to be abandoned. There are basically two ways in which X-phemisms are created : by a changed form for the word or expression and by figurative language that results from the perceived characteristics of the denotatum. Change can be achieved by hyperbole or understatement, by the use of learned or technical jargon instead of common terms, and conversely by the use of colloquial instead of formal terms, by both general-for-specific substitution and part-for-whole substitution, by both circumlocution and abbreviation, acronym, alphabetism or even complete omission, as well as by one-for-one substitution from the existing resources of the language or by borrowing from another language. X-phemisms are motivated by a speaker’s want to be seen to take a certain stance and by playfulness. An interesting perspective on the human psyche is to be gained from the study of X‑phemisms used as a shield against the disapprobation of our fellows or malign fate, and others used as a weapon against those we dislike or as a release valve against the vicissitudes of life. Many euphemisms and dysphemisms demonstrate the poetic inventiveness of ordinary people : they reveal a folk culture that has been paid too little attention by lexicographers, linguists, and literaticians – and, indeed, by the very people who use them : people like us.

The tastes and distastes of verbivores – some observations on X-phemisation in Bulgarian and English
Alexandra Bagasheva
X-phemisation constitutes a powerful appraisal resource which weaves the ethnopragmatic texture of a culture. X-phemisms constitute a special type of non-literal language which capitalizes on all other possible types of non-literal language and the creative exploitation of phonetic-based word play. The main aim in the present paper is to elaborate on a hypothesis of X-phemisation via lexical extension (recruitment) as involving the mechanism of nominal metaphor at the conceptual level. This mechanism involves reframing of the vehicle (target) denotatum with an accompanying rearrangement in salience rating in the arising ad hoc concept resulting from blending the frames of the topic and vehicle denotata. This stereotype-violating mechanism reveals the power of human ingenuity at the deepest level of linguistic creativity. The ad hoc X-phemistic concept blends in an axiologically motivated manner the contextually relevant features of both denotata in a salience-constrained perceptually and evaluatively ordered set of features, triggered by the initial anchoring via the topic denotatum evoked by the actual lexical expression (the vehicle lexical concept). X‑phemisms (from fully lexicalized ones to highly innovative/artful ones) and X‑phemisation as an epiphenomenal occurrence in online linguistic interaction are seen as constituting a special subsystem in the appraisal resources of a language. This subsystem has special status with its high creativity and figurativity. Figurativity captures simultaneously the emergent, dynamic nature of X-phemisms and their grounding in stable conceptual metaphoric structures (in terms of strategies for their production/comprehension). Despite the diversity of X-phemism types (both in terms of their overall pragmatic effect) and the nature of their origin (resulting from substitution, lexical creativity, metaphoric transfers, phonetic innovation, word play, etc.), X‑phemisms constitute a complex uniform catgory whose complexity can only be adequately studied in the framework of interactional cognitive studies, where the emotional brain is also subsumed under ‘cognitive’.

On the polysemy of help
Mathilde Pinson
The verb help is highly polysemous and some of its meanings even seem contradictory. In order to try and understand how this polysemy came into being, I propose a look back at examples from the early modern period onwards, so as to trace the link that unites each secondary meaning with the original meaning of help. These observations are compiled in a synthetical table and a graph, which show how a limited range of semantic features and syntactic structures interact to generate meaning.