Diachronic semantics has long been the stepchild of Spanish (and Romance) historical linguistics. Although many studies have been devoted to the semantic evolution of individual lexical items, Hispanists have paid little attention to broader crosslinguistic patterns of semantic change and to the relevant theoretical and methodological issues posed by the nature of semantic change. Working within the framework of cognitive semantics, a team of Romanists at the University of Tübingen headed by Peter Koch and the late Andreas Blank have offered over the last ten years new insights into questions of diachronic Spanish (and Romance) semantics. This paper seeks to introduce U.S. Hispanists to some of this recent German work in diachronic Spanish (and Romance) semantics and to discuss critically the insights provided by cognitive semantics into the nature of semantic change, especially with regard to crosslinguistic instances of metaphorical and metonymic semantic changes in certain semantic categories (e.g., the designation of body parts, spatial and temporal adverbs).
Selected Proceedings of the 8th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Timothy L. Face and Carol A. Klee
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