Scandinavian Studies in Language <p>-</p> en-US (Ulf Dalvad Berthelsen) (Ulf Dalvad Berthelsen) Wed, 14 Dec 2022 12:11:47 +0100 OJS 60 Cognitive Cultural Semantics <p>As human beings, we live profoundly meaning-centred lives. But the words and meanings we live by, and the discourse rituals of our daily interactions, most often escape our conscious awareness. This is why the role of linguistic analysis is to “light up the thick darkness of language”, as Benjamin Lee Whorf put it (1956:73), and “thereby much of the thought, the culture, and the outlook upon life of a given community” (ibid). In one of her early visionary works on linguistic semantics, Anna Wierzbicka (1980:22) stated: “this is what semantics is very largely about: the exploration of the depths of our consciousness”. The study of semantics brings together what we have all too often compartmentalized as "language and culture” and “lexicon and grammar”. United by the holistic attempt to understand and illuminate meaning, semanticists have a question space that stands out. Unlike the political scientist who might ask “what is democracy?”, or the biologist who might ask “what is an animal?”, semanticists frame their questions differently: “what does <em>democracy</em> mean?”, and “what does <em>animal</em> mean?”. Semantic studies centre on what words mean to speakers in a given community, and successful semantic analyses capture “emic” perspectives: insider construals of meaning, rather than the views, definitions, and registers of experts and outside observers. The contributors to this special issue all share the idea that the meaning of words intersects with habitual ways of thinking and knowing (roughly, the “cognitive” aspect), and more broadly with ways of living (roughly, the “cultural” aspect), and the approach to semantics that we seek to advance can therefore be called “cognitive cultural semantics”. We also share an approach and a methodology, namely, the “natural semantic metalanguage”, or NSM approach for short, and its method of paraphrase. </p> Carsten Levisen, Susana S. Fernández, Jan Hein Copyright (c) 2022 Carsten Levisen, Susana S. Fernández, Jan Hein Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 The Minimal Language Approach <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>The “minimal language” approach is an adaptation of the Natural Semantic Metalanguage, designed to address communicative challenges in fields where effective communication is crucial. A minimal language vocabulary consists of the 65 semantic primes of NSM, 200–300 semantic molecules, and a small number of context-specific words (Goddard 2021a). It is a research-based take on simplified language for heightened accessibility and cross- translatability. Minimal language promotes the idea that easily translatable texts are also easy to understand, because cross- translatable words represent the concepts most “basic” to human language (Wierzbicka 2020). The approach has gained traction over the last few years, with application in fields such as language teaching (cf. Sadow 2021), science communication (cf. Wierzbicka 2018) and health (cf. Goddard et al. 2021).</p> </div> </div> </div> Ida Stevia Diget Copyright (c) 2022 Ida Stevia Diget Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 Pedagogical Pragmatics <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>This paper presents an overview of the advances in the application of the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) methodology in the fields of second and foreign language learning and teaching, and of intercultural education.</p> <p>Our premise is that the NSM approach offers a valuable pedagogical contribution as a set of cross-translatable concepts that can be used in the classroom to explain both linguistic features as well as communicative and other social practices of a given language group. Pedagogical NSM is an emerging field where efforts are being made to test this approach in language education and to train teachers in applying this methodology in their daily practice. Here, we present the state of the art regarding pedagogical applications of NSM, including the construct of “cultural dictionaries” and the use of “Minimal Languages” for classroom explanations.</p> </div> </div> </div> Lauren Sadow, Susana S. Fernández Copyright (c) 2022 Lauren Sadow, Susana S. Fernández Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 Postcolonial Semantics <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>“Postcolonial semantics” is the study of meaning and meaning- making in postcolonial contexts, and at the same time, it is a way of articulating and mediating metasemantic critique. In this paper, my aim is to provide a brief overview of postcolonial semantics as an emerging field and approach, focusing on central concepts and analytical scopes.</p> <p>The theoretical backdrop for the establishment of postcolonial semantics is partly found in the developments of new fields, such as colonial and postcolonial linguistics, postcolonial pragmatics, and decolonial linguistics, and partly in the cognitive and cultural renewals of linguistic semantics. The cognitive cultural semantics to which this special issue is devoted is a conceptual kind of semantics, as opposed to a “realist” (or “referential”) semantics. It is also a semantics of “understanding” (U-semantics), rather than a semantics of “truth” (T-semantics). Synthesizing the overall aims of these movements, we can say that postcolonial semantics is a conceptual and U-semantic approach to the linguacultural complexities that colonial language encounters have brought about, and an approach that combines cultural and critical perspectives. Postcolonial semantics engages critically with the semantic conceptualizations born out of colonial-era linguistic worldviews, especially in the form of a critique of the terminological and conceptual biases that have entered into the frameworks of modern cognitive and social sciences, including Eurocentric and Anglocentric concepts and terminologies that characterize the vocabulary and priorities of modern linguistics.</p> </div> </div> </div> Carsten Levisen Copyright (c) 2022 Carsten Levisen Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 Environmental Semantics <p>Environmental semantics is the study of the meanings of words, expressions, and constructions that pertain to climate, weather, and associated social phenomena, including environmentalism. Through the composition of semantic explications, scripts, and models, phrased in natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) or minimal languages, one can illuminate the relationship between language and people, and the social, cultural, and environmental systems in which they are embedded. Environmental destruction, including climate crisis, is a wicked problem. How people express themselves through language encodes attitudes and values held towards the environment, broadly defined. In this way, language is one piece of the puzzle. Although of worldwide concern, many climate and weather events happen locally in specific geographic, historical, and cultural contexts, and instantiate local linguacultural expressions. At the same time, discussion of environment increasingly occurs between people of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, often using English as a global language.</p> Helen Bromhead, Carsten Levisen Copyright (c) 2022 Helen Bromhead, Carsten Levisen Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 The Meaning of Manners in Australian English <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Conventional wisdom says that Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot. While manners have been studied by sociologists, anthropologists, and historians, who have uncovered an array of social processes performed in seemingly trivial daily encounters, this study, with its ethnopragmatic approach to semantics through the natural semantic metalanguage, brings a new perspective. The uniting theme of these “rules” in the Australian context centres on personal autonomy and its concomitant norm of not telling people what to do. The importance of manners in Australian English is evident in its frequency of use and its prominence in Australian child-rearing and etiquette literature.</p> </div> </div> </div> Sophia Waters Copyright (c) 2022 Sophia Waters Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 Explicating a Virtue <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>This article explicates the eighteenth-century English concept of “chastity” through analyzing the noun chastity, the adjective chaste and the adverb chastely in the Corpus of Late Modern English Texts 3.1. Nine prominent characteristics of “chastity” are examined to arrive at an explication of “sexual chastity”. Firstly, chastity was considered (1) a virtue. Secondly, it often meant (2) virginity or complete abstinence from sex. However, it also referred to (3) marital love. Eighteenth-century authors were more prone to discuss (4) women’s than men’s chastity. Metaphorically, chastity was considered a (5) valuable commodity, and it was discussed in terms of (6) attack and defence, and of (7) purity. Chastity was supposed to characterize a person’s (8) acts, behaviour, and comportment. The understanding of these characteristics had (9) religious underpinnings.</p> </div> </div> </div> Heli Tissari Copyright (c) 2022 Heli Tissari Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 What is Porteño Spanish Lunfardo? <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Lunfardo, often described as “the slang of Buenos Aires” (capital city of Argentina), is a distinctive, well-researched feature of Porteño Spanish, the Spanish variety spoken in that city. This paper provides a comprehensive semantic model that accounts for the meanings and logics that guide “everyday” Porteños (people of Buenos Aires) in their understanding of this highly complex, culture-specific concept.</p> <p>The proposed model offers fresh insights into Porteños’ construal of their own linguistic world, including people, places, words, discourses, and values that give shape to this world. The model is constructed using the natural semantic metalanguage’s (NSM) approach of maximally simple, clear, cross- translatable terms, and based on close analysis of cultural insiders’ collaborative conceptual exploration in live TV conversation.</p> </div> </div> </div> Jan Hein Copyright (c) 2022 Jan Hein Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 “A Gale of Hope for Latin America” <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>The terms esperanza (Spanish) and esperança (Portuguese) (‘hope’) are frequently used in the political and social discourse of Latin America. In this vast region, plagued by recurrent political and economic crisis and other social challenges, the feeling of hope, but also its counterpart, lack of hope/hopelessness, is present in mass media, social media, the discourse of politicians and other public figures, as well as in the urban landscape, and represents the spirit of people who are not ready to give up on a brighter future. We propose that the terms esperanza/esperança are cultural keywords in Latin America. For our analysis, we have chosen two countries, Argentina and Brazil, to carry out a corpus study. We focus mainly on Twitter data, but we also include other written media to identify the most salient semantic and pragmatic features of these words and their importance in these Latin American countries. As part of the analysis, we look into possible differences between Spanish and Portuguese—that is, differences in use in the selected countries.</p> </div> </div> </div> Susana S. Fernández, Ana Paulla Braga Mattos Copyright (c) 2022 Susana S. Fernández, Ana Paulla Braga Mattos Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 The Semantics of Grammaticalization <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>The primary meaning of the Danish verb prøve is “to use one’s best ability to do a certain activity or to reach something; make an attempt”; nevertheless, it is also used about activities that do not require one’s best ability. In these cases, it can be argued, the verb has been grammaticalized. The first aim of this paper is to describe the relationship between the literal and the grammaticalized meanings of the verb using NSM (natural semantic metalanguage), based on corpus examples and speaker judgements. Data have shown that the grammaticalized meaning of prøve is reduced when used in the imperative, because it does not contain the assumptions of the speaker as does the non- grammaticalized meaning. On the other hand, the grammaticalized meaning has acquired a new pragmatic feature, namely the friendly attitude of the speaker. The second aim is to describe how the grammaticalized meaning of prøve is related to the Danish “meaning universe”. The analysis has shown that the grammaticalized meaning of prøve includes the element “the speaker wants the conversational partner to feel something good”, which is in accordance with Danish cultural values</p> </div> </div> </div> Katalin Fenyvesi Copyright (c) 2022 Katalin Fenyvesi Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 A Semantic Analysis of Snow-related Words in Danish and Kalaallisut (West Greenlandic) <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>This paper emerges from the vexed question whether the allegedly many “Eskimo” terms for snow document a linkage between language, culture, and cognition. Using the semantic explication technique of the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) approach, the emic logics embedded in the Kalaallisut snow-related words aputit and nittaappoq and the Danish snow-related words sne and det sner are unfolded. Through a comparison of the findings, the paper discusses how the physical world is conceptualized in both culture-specific and transcultural ways. The explications are based on evidence from semantic consultations and text examples.</p> </div> </div> </div> Stephanie Maskova Copyright (c) 2022 Stephanie Maskova Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 Sadness-related Expressions in Danish and German <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>The study explores sadness-related expressions in two typologically closely related languages in the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) framework. A systematic corpus enquiry revealed the syntactic patterns and helped to identify the most frequent head-nouns of a number of Danish and German sadness-related expressions. German <em>traurig</em>, for instance, has a distribution similar to that of Danish <em>sørgelig</em> with semiotic products and clauses as subjects. However, when used with human subjects, its distribution aligns with the Danish multi-word expression ked af det. Semantic consultations conducted about the use of the most salient sadness adjectives with some speakers of Danish and German revealed fine-grained differences between German <em>traurig</em> and <em>trist</em> and Danish <em>ked af det</em> and <em>trist</em> respectively. Thus, when used with a human headword, Danish trist is more trait-like while ked af det is more state- like. The concept of sadness-related emotions in Danish and German is discussed, followed by a methodological discussion about the combinability of a quantitative corpus approach, a qualitative semantic consultation approach and NSM explications. Corpus inquiry was used to chart the adjectives’ polysemy, and as a method for creating the NSM explications, consultation data were used.</p> </div> </div> </div> Katalin Fenyvesi, Eckhard Bick, Klaus Geyer Copyright (c) 2022 Katalin Fenyvesi, Eckhard Bick, Klaus Geyer Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 NSM-based Cultural Dictionaries <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>For language learners, the transition from classroom to immersion is an exhausting and difficult one. Not least because of how language is used differently “in the real world” to how it is taught in classrooms. There are many “insider” dictionaries of language but few dictionaries which take a closer look at the important words and explain them in ways that learners can understand. Natural semantic metalanguage (NSM)’s way of defining culturally important terms and combining them with cultural scripts gives us an opportunity to go beyond the standard realm of definitions and explore the possibilities of what I am calling “cultural dictionaries”. This paper will discuss the current opening in learner lexicography to include emic cultural information. It will then discuss how NSM can contribute to such lexicographical practice. Finally, drawing on the first NSM-based cultural dictionary project—the Australian Dictionary of Invisible Culture for Teachers—it provides reflections, advice, and recommendations for future cultural dictionary projects.</p> </div> </div> </div> Lauren Sadow Copyright (c) 2022 Lauren Sadow Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100 Conceptual Semantics and Public Messaging <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>This study explores the conceptual semantics of risk–benefit discourse about COVID-19 vaccination and the implications for public health messaging. The underlying methodology is the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) approach. The study proposes a semantic explication of the English word risk in one of its most frequently used frames in COVID-19 vaccine discourse (i.e. the risk of ...), as well as an “advice script” for the complex task of “weighing the risks and benefits” of a vaccination decision. Drawing on COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in Australia and Denmark, the study stresses the difficulties of communicating public health messages using conceptually complex and culture-specific words such as risk. Though the issues are complex, it is argued that adopting a minimal languages approach may provide a way forward, by enabling the creation of texts that are both easier to understand and more easily translated.</p> <p> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> Ida Stevia Diget, Cliff Goddard Copyright (c) 2022 Ida Stevia Diget, Cliff Goddard Wed, 14 Dec 2022 00:00:00 +0100