The Polysemy of the verbs «pegar», «apegar» and «empegar» in Catalan: A synchronic manifestation of semantic change

Joan-Rafael Ramos


In this paper we study the polysemy that the verbs pegar (‘hit/stick’), apegar (‘stick’) and empegar (‘stick’) possess today in the Catalan language. First of all, we perform a thorough description of the meanings that each of these verbs have acquired not only in the standard but also in the colloquial language. Each of the meanings has been differentiated from the others by analysing the most prominent dictionaries currently available and a corpus of written texts. Additionally, a number of surveys on the spoken language have also been taken into account. Our research has shown that in the different Catalan dialects they do not always have the same meanings or the same verb forms. To be able to interpret how this polysemy has come about, we have taken cognitive linguistics as our theoretical framework. We have been able to show that the notion of image schema of path, combined with prototypicality effects and with the Invited Inference Theory of Semantic Change, in which the mechanism of metonymy plays a fundamental role, can provide a satisfactory explanation for the semasiological complexity of the verbs under study.


semantic change; polysemy; cognitive linguistics; metonymy; linguistic variation; Catalan

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Copyright (c) 2015 Joan-Rafael Ramos