Historical Semantics and Cognition

Historical Semantics and Cognition

Historical Semantics and Cognition

Historical Semantics and Cognition


The goal of this book is to reflect on a long-overdue dialogue between academics of two apparently incompatible bases of research: the fields of cognitive linguistics and historical linguistics. The basis of the collected volume was that the predominantly practical-based area of historical linguistics will profit from theoretical input, just as cognitive linguistics reserach will be stimulated by the more practical perspective provided by historical linguistics. The result is this publication, the first of its kind to reflect such an overwhelming mutual feedback.


The papers collected in this volume evolved from a symposium that was held September 19–21, 1996, at the “Clubhaus” of the Freie Universität Berlin. The symposium was organized with the double intention of providing a forum in which synchronically and diachronically oriented scholars would have to exchange their ideas and where American and European cognitive linguists would be confronted with representatives of different directions in European structural semantics. While the confrontation indeed happened as planned, the expected synergetic effects were perhaps not as intensive as we had hoped. However, we are convinced that some of the discussions we had will bring long-term results, thanks to the opponents’ modified perception of each other generated by this encounter.

We would like to express our gratitude to the “AuBenamt” of the Freie Universität Berlin for all its various forms of support, and especially to the Volkswagen-Foundation, without whose grant this symposium would not have been possible.

All the work, the preparations including the program and the schedule of meetings, the duplication and distribution of hand-outs and papers, as well as the organizing of coffee-breaks, restaurants, accomodations and transfer from airports to hotels, could not have been done without a devoted team of co-workers. We take this opportunity to thank once again Mary Copple, Geneviève Gueug, Paul Gévaudan, Richard Waltereit and especially Sigrid Kretschmann whose experience and readiness were an enormous support and contributed to the success of the symposium.

Ideas of how the proceedings could best be published were discussed during the Berlin symposium itself. Due to changes in both our academic affilations, some time went by until it was decided that a greater part of the papers read at the Clubhaus should be published in a volume rounded off with two articles that fit the volume’s the-

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