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Higher School of Economics

Towards language universals through lexical semantics: introduction to lexical and semantic typology

Higher School of Economics via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


The aim of the online course:
• To teach the students to identify semantic systems and systemic processes in the lexicon;
• To explain the difference between primary and metaphoric meanings and types of semantic shifts;
• To understand what is “frame approach” used by Moscow Lexical Typology Group in studying lexicon and in cross-linguistic of lexical systems;
• To learn how to compile lexical typological questionnaires and build semantic maps reflecting the main oppositions in lexical systems.
Auditory of the online course: all those who are interested in linguistics and languages; ВА or MA or PhD students or teachers of linguistic programs.
The course contains:
• The detailed description of Moscow Lexical Typology Group methodology (frame approach) as compared to the other frameworks in the field of lexical semantics (Lecure 1)
• The cross-linguistics description of several semantic fields according to MLexT, case studies:
• Systems of AQUAMOTION verbs (Lecture 2)
• Systems of Verbs of falling (Lecture 3)
• Systems of qualitative terms for OLD (Lecture 4)
• The description of derived pain predicates (Lectures 5-6):
• Cross-linguistically relevant sources for metaphors,
• linguistic processes, accompanying this type of metaphorization,
• special features manifested by source verbs of different semantics in this process


  • What is special about lexical typology: methodological issues
    • This lecture is the introduction to the whole course. It describes different approaches to the semantic typology of lexicon and presents research methodology of the Moscow Lexical Typology Group.
  • Does the octopus swim? AQUA-motion in cross-linguistic perspective
    • The lecture considers the project on AQUA-motion verbs in more than 50 languages and describes the possible strategies of colexification of basic situations denoting being in water and motion in water.
  • Jack and Jill fell down the hill: Typological approach to verbs of falling
    • The lecture describes the results of our research on the typology of verbs of falling, including types of falling and falling metaphors. In addition, it focuses on special cases and several other semantic fields closely related to falling.
  • How do we think about oldness?
    • This lecture tells about the experiment of a dictionary-based semantic analysis of quality terms describing the domain of OLD in 100 languages. Semantic systems and semantic oppositions within these systems are revealed and it is argued that the linguistic behavior of quality terms is semantically motivated.
  • Words that change their meaning: pain metaphors and pain constructions. Part 1
    • This lecture introduces the notion of secondary pain terms. Unlike prototypical pain verbs, which have pain as their direct initial meaning, secondary pain terms denote other types of situations, like cutting, burning, etc., while pain is their secondary meaning. The lecture shows that the corresponding semantic shifts are far from trivial.
  • Words that change their meaning: pain metaphors and pain constructions. Part 2
    • This lecture continues discussing secondary pain terms. It points out the syntactic and semantic peculiarities of this shift to the pain domain and considers their contribution to the theory of metaphor and metonymy.

Taught by

Ekaterina Rakhilina


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