Prototypicality and subjectification are fundamental motivations and mechanisms of semantic change, both lexical and constructional. Flexibility and change of meaning derive from the way we categorize reality, i.e. not by way of necessary and sufficient conditions, but based on prototypes or mental representations of the properties and exemplars that we deem more representative in our cultural and social contexts. The motivations behind semantic change, both semasiological and onomasiological, as well as its typical features and mechanisms can be explained in terms of prototypicality effects, which respond to principles of cognitive efficiency. The subjectification or development of meanings grounded in perspectives, beliefs and attitudes of the conceptualizer/speaker is a general tendency of semantic change but, contrary to what the literature suggests, it does not constitute an autonomous mechanism of semantic change. Rather, it is an effect of prototypicality and of basic mechanisms of semantic change, especially metonymy. After identifying the main dimensions of semantic change and the conceptual map of historical semantics, and after arguing that cognition, discourse and semantic change are closely connected, we discuss and analyze the impact of prototypicality and subjectification on semantic change based on examples of lexical and constructional change in Portuguese. Finally, we associate semantic change with the regular processes of grammaticalization and constructionalization.
|Title of host publication||Estudos de linguística histórica|
|Subtitle of host publication||mudança e estandardização|
|Editors||Clarinda de Azevedo Maia, Isabel Almeida Santos|
|Place of Publication||Coimbra|
|Publisher||Coimbra University Press|
|Number of pages||30|
|Publication status||Published - 25 May 2019|