Riemer PhD thesis abstract

Riemer, N.R. 2000. A Study of Semantic Extension of Percussion/Impact Vocabulary in English and Warlpiri. PhD Thesis, Univ. of Sydney. * It contains an in-depth study of the semantics of paka-rni/pi-nyi like verbs in Warlpiri, and a more summary look at similar verbs in surrounding languages.


The central claim of this thesis is that the following four categories of 'extension' convincingly account for the non-core meanings of percussion/impact (P/I) verbs (i.e. verbs whose meaning centres around the idea 'hit') in English and Warlpiri:

 1.  Metaphorical application of the core meaning
 2.  Metonymic extension to the effect of the action of the verb
 3.  Metonymic extension to the context in which the action of the verb occurs
 4.  Metonymic extension by selection of a constituent of the verbal event

Some non-core meanings exemplify just one of these categories; others can be understood as arising through the sequential operation of two of the categorized processes.

The account is developed in relation to English in chapter two.  A specific view of metaphor and metonymy is advanced and two new categories, 'hypermetonymy' and 'hypermetaphor,' are proposed.  This framework is designed to give proper recognition to the role of conventionalization in meaning extension and to provide a principled basis for the demarcation of metaphor, which does not change the meaning of a verb, from metonymy, which does.

Chapter three turns to Warlpiri P/I verbs and shows that the same categories of 'extension' can be used to account for this new body of data.  In this chapter a theory of word-meaning is developed and applied which allows a natural account to emerge of the relations between different senses.  Original analyses are proposed of the semantics of Warlpiri P/I verbs, and existing ones are discussed.

In the last part of the thesis the typology of non-core meanings is shown to be applicable to P/I verbs in other Australian languages of differing degrees of relatedness to Warlpiri.

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