First call – "Linguistics of temperature"
- First call for the theme session "Linguistics of temperature" at
the International Cognitive Linguistics Conference 2009 (Berkeley,
U.S.A., July 28-August 3)
Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm (Stockholm university)
### CONTENTS ###
Temperature phenomena are universal, relatively easily perceptible by
humans and crucial for them, but their conceptualisation involves a
complex interplay between external reality, bodily experience and
evaluation of the relevant properties with regard to their functions
in the human life. The meanings of temperature terms are, thus, both
embodied and perspectival. Rather than reflecting the external world
objectively, they offer a na�ve picture of it, permeated with folk
theories that are based on people�s experience and rooted in their
culture (cultural models).
Languages differ as to how many temperature terms they have and how
these categorize the temperature domain in general. Closely related
languages can show remarkable differences in their uses of
temperature adjectives, even when these are cognates to each other;
conversely, temperature systems can show remarkable areal patterns.
Temperature terms can belong to different word classes, even within
one and the same language (adjectives � �cold�, verbs � �to freeze�,
nouns � �coldness�). Languages vary in their word-class attribution
of temperature concepts: thus, for instance, many languages lack
temperature adjectives. Word-class attribution and, further,
lexicalization of temperature expressions and the possible syntactic
constructions in which they can be used are sensitive to their
Temperature meanings are often semantically related to other
meanings, either synchronically (within a polysemantic lexeme) or
diachronically. Thus, temperature concepts often serve as source
domains for various metaphors (�warm feelings�, �hot news�) and are
extended to other perceptional modalities (�hot spices�, �warm
colour�). Temperature meanings can also develop from others, e.g.,
�prototypical� entities or activities with certain temperature
characteristics (e.g., �burn, fire� >�hot�, or �ice� > �cold�).
Finally, the meanings of temperature terms can also change within the
temperature domain itself, e.g. �warm, hot� > �lukewarm�, as in Lat.
tep- �warm� vs. English tepid �lukewarm�. While some languages show
extensive semantic derivation from the temperature domain, others
lack it or use it to a limited degree (e.g., the Oceanic languages).
Languages vary as to which temperature term has predominantly
positive associations in its extended use (cf. �cold� in Wolof vs.
�warm� in the European languages), partly due to the different
Temperature terms have, on the whole, received relatively little
attention. Cross-linguistic research on temperature is mainly
restricted to Sutrop (1998, 1999) and Plank (2003), which focus on
how many basic temperature terms there are in a language and how they
carve up the domain among themselves. There has been no cross-
linguistic research on the grammatical behaviour of temperature
expressions, apart from a few mentions.
In theoretical semantics, temperature adjectives have mainly figured
in discussions of lexical fields, antonymy and linguistic scales (cf.
Lehrer 1970, Cruse & Togia 1995, Sutrop 1998, cf. also Clausner &
Croft 1999). Koptjevskaja-Tamm & Rakhilina 2006 suggest that
linguistic categorization of the temperature domain is sensitive to
several parameters, that are important and salient for humans, can be
distinguishable by simple procedures relating to the human body and
have only very approximate physical correlates. Within the Natural-
Semantic Metalanguage, Goddard & Wierzbicka (2006) propose the
general formula for describing the language-specific meanings of
temperature terms via reference to fire.
Extended uses of temperature words have been studied indirectly in
cognitive linguistics, primarily in research on the metaphors
underlying emotions, e.g. affection is warmth (Lakoff & Johnson
1997:50) and anger is heat (K�vecses 1995, also Goossens 1998; cf.
also Shindo 1998-99). An important question raised in Geeraerts &
Grondelaers (1995) is to what degree such extensions reflect
universal metaphorical patterns or are based on common cultural
traditions. In any case, the current empirical evidence for the
suggested metaphors is still relatively meagre.
For this workshop we invite contributions that discuss the
linguistics of temperature in particular languages and across
languages from various angles, e.g.:
� Lexicalization of temperature concepts, categorization within the
temperature domain: What temperature concepts are encoded as words
across languages, what distinctions are made in the systems of
temperature terms and what factors underlie them? Are there universal
temperature concepts? Can temperature terms and temperature term
systems completely free to vary across languages, or are there limits
to this? How can the meanings of temperature terms be described
(e.g., via reference to the objective temperature scale, to the human
body and human perception or to typical entities, like fire or ice)?
� Lexicon-grammar interaction within the temperature domain: How are
temperature concepts lexicalized across languages in terms of word
classes? What syntactic constructions are used for talking about
� Semantic extensions and motivation (patterns of polysemy and
semantic change) relevant for the temperature domain: What are the
possible semantic extensions of the temperature meanings to other
domains and how can these be related to their concrete meanings?
Where from do the temperature terms come? How can the meaning of the
temperature terms change within the temperature domain itself? What
general metaphorical and metonymical models underlie the semantic
evolution of the expressions related to the temperature domain?
For collecting linguistic data it might be helpful to make use of
�Guidelines for collecting linguistic expressions for temperature
concepts� downloadable from www.ling.su/staff/tamm/tempquest.pdf
Particularly welcomed are contributions that attempt at linking the
linguistic issues to a broader anthropological and psychological
context and offer discussions of methodological and theretical
problems in dealing with the linguistic domain of temperature.
### SUBMISSION PROCEDURE ###
WHAT: your 500-word abstract (1" margins, Times New Roman, size 12
font) as .rtf, or .doc file
WHEN: by September 5, 2008
TO WHOM: <tamm@...>
in an email with the subject heading "ICLC 2009 theme session
body of your e-mail should include
- title of paper
- name(s) of author(s)
- contact e-mail address.
### REFERENCES ###
Clausner, T.C. & W. Croft. 1999. Domains and image schemas. Cognitive
Linguistics, 10, 1:1 �31.
Cruse, D.A. & P. Togia 1995. Towards a cognitive model of antonymy.
Geeraerts, D. & S. Grondelaers 1995. Looking back at anger: Cultural
traditions and metaphorical patterns. In Taylor & MacLaury (eds.),
Goddard, C. & A. Wierzbicka 2006. NSM analyses of the semantics of
physical qualities: sweet, hot, hard, heavy, rough, sharp in cross-
linguistic perspective. Studies in Language, 34(1): 675 � 800.
Goossens, L. 1998. Meaning extensions and text type. English Studies,
Koptjevskaja-Tamm, M. & E. Rakhilina 2006. "Some like it hot": on
semantics of temperature adjectives in Russian and Swedish. STUF
(Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung), a special issue on
Lexicon in a Typological and Contrastiv Perspective, ed. by
Leuschner, T. & G. Giannoulopoulou, 59 (2).
K�vecses, Z. 1996. Anger: Its language, conceptualization, and
physiology in the light of cross-cultural evidence. In Taylor &
MacLaury (eds.), 181-196.
Lakoff, G. & M. Johnson 1999. Philosophy in the flesh. New York:
Basic books.Lehrer, A. 1970. Static and dynamic elements in
semantics: hot, warm, cool, cold.
Plank, F. 2003. Temperature Talk: The Basics. A talk presented at
the Workshop on Lexical Typology at the ALT conference in Cagliari,
Shindo, Mika. 1998-9. An analysis of metaphorically extended concepts
based on bodily experience. A case study of temperature expressions.
Papers in linguistic science, 4:29�54, 5: 57�73.
Sutrop, U. 1998. Basic temperature terms and subjective temperature
scale. Lexicology, 4.60�104.
Sutrop, U. 1999. Temperature terms in the Baltic Area. Estonian:
Typological studies, ed. by Mati Erelt, 185�203. Tartu: University of
Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm
Dept. of linguistics, Stockholm University
106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
tel.: +46-8-16 26 20
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