- The knowing ear : an Australian test of universal claims about the semantic structure of sensory verbs and their extension into the domain of cognition (1998)
- In this paper we test previous claims concerning the universality of patterns of polysemy and semantic change in perception verbs. Implicit in such claims are two elements: firstly, that the sharing of two related senses A and B by a given form is cross-linguistically widespread, and matched by a complementary lack of some rival polysemy, and secondly that the explanation for the ubiquity of a given pattern of polysemy is ultimately rooted in our shared human cognitive make-up. However, in comparison to the vigorous testing of claimed universals that has occurred in phonology, syntax and even basic lexical meaning, there has been little attempt to test proposed universals of semantic extension against a detailed areal study of non-European languages. To address this problem we examine a broad range of Australian languages to evaluate two hypothesized universals: one by Viberg (1984), concerning patterns of semantic extension across sensory modalities within the domain of perception verbs (i .e. intra-field extensions), and the other by Sweetser (1990), concerning the mapping of perception to cognition (i.e. trans-field extensions). Testing against the Australian data allows one claimed universal to survive, but demolishes the other, even though both assign primacy to vision among the senses.
- An interesting couple: the semantic development of dyad morphemes (2003)
- Most systematic discussion of dyad morphemes has focussed on Australian languages, owing to a combination of their relative prevalence there, and the development of a descriptive tradition that investigates them in some depth. In the course of researching this paper, however, I became aware of functionally and semantically similar morphemes in many other parts of the world, almost invariably described in isolation from any typological reference point. I have incorporated such data as far as I am aware of it, in the hope that a systematic study will encourage other investigators to identify, and investigate in detail, similar constructions in a range of languages. The current state of our research, however, as well as some interesting geographical skewings that I discuss below, such that outside Australia dyad constructions almost exclusively employ reciprocal morphology, means that most of this paper will focus on Australian languages.