Chapter published in:Changes in Meaning and Function: Studies in historical linguistics with a focus on Spanish
Edited by Jorge Fernández Jaén and Herminia Provencio Garrigós
[IVITRA Research in Linguistics and Literature 25] 2020
► pp. 174–193
Form and meaning in the development of verbal polysemy
The question of how form and meaning interact in processes of change is of particular significance to historical linguists. Most commonly, innovations in meaning are assumed to lead the way, with changes at the formal level following as a consequence. By contrast, the possibility of a formal change being responsible for the emergence of a new meaning is seldom envisaged. The present paper explores these issues in relation to the polysemous Spanish motion verb alcanzar ‘to reach’, which in the course of time developed the new senses ‘to understand’ and ‘to be sufficient’. The diachronic analysis of the two developments brings into view a meaning-to-form change in the first case but suggests a form-to-meaning path in the second case.
Keywords: alcanzar , polysemy, Spanish, semantic change, formal change
Published online: 02 April 2020