A concept expressed by a monomorphemic word in one language may be expressed by a morphologically complex word (a compound, derivative, etc.) in another. Using a representative sample of the world’s languages for a selection of nominal meanings, some basic questions asked in this project are: which languages have comparably many complex lexical items in their lexicon, and which have relatively few? Do languages of either type belong to particular language families, do they cluster in certain areas of the world, or are there perhaps structural typological characteristics that influence the behaviour of individual languages (lexicon-grammar-interaction)? Another important aspect under investigation is similarity in semantic structure of lexical items among languages spoken in the same area, as well as some striking similarities that occur around the world and therefore cannot be well explained with reference to areal influence, but instead seem to constitute universally preferred conceptualization strategies.
Project members: Matthias Urban