Sparsamkeit und Geiz, Grosszügigkeit und Verschwendung: ethische Konzepte im Spiegel der Sprache
2000 (German)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
The object of this study is to analyse the lexemes and phraseological units that constitute the semantic fields employed in naming four abstract domains, greed, thrift, generosity, and extravagance that make up the ethical concept <Attitude to Ownership> in German. On the assumption that ideas are accessible to us through the lexicalised items of a language, recent theories in the field of semantic analysis and conceptualisation were applied to the source material. In each domain key words were identified and their definitions in modern and historical dictionaries were analysed. Various dimensions of meaning, which proved to be inherent in the lexical items, emerged from this analysis. The oppositions a/o (action directed to others vs. to oneself), right/wrong (virtues vs. vices) and too much/ too little vs. the ideal mean were established as central. To achieve a more precise description of meaning tentative explications of cognitive levels were proposed. By means of these the underlying ideas, as they were reflected in the lexical units, could be described. The analysis showed greater variation and expressivity in words, idioms, and proverbs referring to the two vices compared to the virtues. Furthermore, a diachronic study produced evidence of semantic and conceptual changes. On the basis of such observations conclusions could be drawn about changes in the ethical system. The data derived from a contrastive corpus analysis of the German and Swedish key words showed numerous similarities as well as some conspicuous differences in the conceptualisation and valuation of attitudes pertaining to the four abstract domains. Moreover, the key words denoting the two virtues showed a clear domination in frequency, indicating that these are more central conceptual categories in today's society than the vices. An ongoing shift in meaning could be established for the key words naming the latter. Applying modern theories of metaphor and metonymy the experiential basis of meaning and thought was explored, showing that the structures forming the ethical concepts studied in this work are grounded in experiences of a physical and socio- cultural nature. The metaphorical concept ILLNESS emerged as a common source domain for the two vices, while the PATH- concept was shown to form the basis of metaphors expressing the o-virtue but not the a-virtue. Among the numerous métonymie concepts HAND proved to be a characteristic of all four domains.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2000. , 186 p.
Semantic analysis, semantic field, ethical concept, cognitive semantics, variation, expressivity, semantic change, contrastive corpus analysis, frequency, metaphorical concept, métonymie concept
Languages and Literature
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-61584ISBN: 91-7191-946-5OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-61584DiVA: diva2:570666