Diachronic Prototype Semantics

I got my hands on this little guy last week: Dirk Geeraerts’ Diachronic Prototype Semantics: A Contribution to Historical Lexicography. It’s an older volume–1997, but really insightful. Geeraerts knows the field of semantics and lexicology and its history with a depth and degree of thoughtfulness that the vast majority of us can only aspire to (if you haven’t, you should also get your hands on his Theories of Lexical Semantics,  a more widely available volume that should be on everyone’s shelf).

On the flight from Seattle to Chicago yesterday and I got a solid 2/3’s of the way it. It’s good. Granted, probably for most people, not $100’s good (that’s the used price on Amazon right now…one that I did not pay!), but still.diachronic-prototype-semantics-cover

I’m probably going to need to read through it twice. The second time, I’m going to pdf chapters to take notes on. Maybe there’ll be a review at the end. I know I’m notoriously bad at getting reviews done these days (I have a partially complete review of Porter’s (2015) Linguistic Analysis in the works that I promise that I have posted in January!), but this is a book that’s worth the time, I’d say. Besides, I think there’s a need for those NT student/scholars with a curiosity in linguistics to have useful discussions of otherwise intimidating or inaccessible monographs.

Anyway, the short of it is, that Geeraerts provides an account of the interaction and competition between polysemy (words/linguistic elements with multiple meanings) and isomorphism (one form = one meaning) that is compelling on both a theoretical and practical level. He also puts forward a number of important arguments that would suggest that biblical studies needs a change in direction in terms of how it engages with the field of semantics

It’s time for a new Semantics of Biblical Language.


PS – for my friends at Old School Script (and I’m sure they already know this), but Dirk Geeraerts was doing quantitative cognitive linguistics before it was cool.