The Cognitive Polysemy of Sensory Terms in Sanskrit

Keerthi, Naresh (2019) The Cognitive Polysemy of Sensory Terms in Sanskrit. Doctoral thesis, NIAS.

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Thesis advisorKasturirangan, Rajesh*
Abstract: Colour is not a universal concept, and each linguistic culture carves up the world of visual experience in very particular and contingent ways. Further, the colour words of every language each possess a unique and dynamic assemblage of figurative meanings. Studies in the semantics of colour terms have usually been limited by assuming the universality of colour categories derived from European languages, and the attendant notion of Basic Colour Terms (BCTs). Mapping the semantics of colour terms are complicated, particularly if one is working with a historical language such as Sanskrit, which has a massive textual corpus that is not yet amenable to systematic lexical searches. Hence it is a challenge to adduce sufficient attestations from the literature. Besides fixing the meaning in individual attestations, one also needs to trace diachronic and metaphorical shifts in meaning, as the case may be. There is a close and meaningful overlap between visual terms and metaphor for the student of semantics, and this is all-important for studying the cross-sensory and cross-modal expansions in a terms semantic space. This thesis addresses the need to look beyond BCTs and non-BCTs, and offers a model for producing a historical thesaurus of the colour lexis in Sanskrit, using as sources kāvya (belletristic literature), alaṅkāraśāstra (poetics) and the koṣa-s (traditional lexicons). The Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) and the model of lakṣanā given by the Sanskrit poetologist Mammaṭabhaṭṭa (~11th century CE) are examined, vis-à-vis their suitability to study linguistic metaphor. Detailed and diachronic semantic maps of raga and aruṇa are presented to examine the tendency of these terms to engage with figurative meaning. The evidence suggests the figurative use of colour terms is motivated by metonym and metaphor, and specific instances of semantic narrowing may be motivated by the expansion of the colour vocabulary.
Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: This thesis was submitted to the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal [Year of Award: 2019]
Subjects: School of Humanities > Literature
School of Humanities > Cognitive Science
Doctoral Programme > Theses
School of Humanities > Language and Linguistics
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2021 18:42
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2023 06:27
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