Temperature: lexical typology and cognition

MARIA KOPTJEVSKAJA-TAMM (STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY)



6. Classes of evaluated entities (evaluées)

Factors determining temperature qualification:

a. the physical temperature properties of the objects themselves
b. the functions of the corresponding objects in human life

Some entities (most notably persons, water and air) participate in different kinds of temperature evaluation and may therefore correspond to particularly elaborated subsystems of temperature expressions.

Water – a special case

• in the human life and surrounding

  • omnipresent with different temperature values linked to different functions.
  • clearly observable manifestations of different temperature values (ice – liquid – boiling and vapour).

• linguistically

  • the linguistic temperature subsystem applying to water (and sometimes to other liquids) is often more elaborated than the other temperature subsystems in the same language.
  • words related to the different temperature manifestations of water may serve as sources for temperature terms.

Greater elaboration in the linguistic temperature subsystem related to water:

  • ‘LUKEWARM’: typically applies to water (and sometimes to other liquids) – either exclusively or predominantly (cf. Firsching 2009, Luraghi 2015, Daniel & Khurshudian 2015., Brosig 2015, Perkova 2015, Ameka 2015)

(9) ‘Lukewarm’ in Süskind, P. “Das Parfum”

a. German:

  • Dann ließ der Marquis die Ventilatoren anhalten und verbrachte Grenouille in einen Waschraum, [wo er in Bädern von lauwarmem Regenwasser mehrere Stunden eingeweicht] und schließlich mit Nussölseife aus der Andenstadt Potosi von Kopf bis Fuß gewaschen wurde.

b. English:

  • Then the marquis had the ventilators stopped and Grenouille brought to a washroom, [where he was softened for several hours in baths of lukewarm rainwater] and finally waxed from head to toe with nut-oil soap from Potosi in the Andes.

c. Swedish:

  • …där han fick ligga i blöt flera timmar
    where he get:PAST lie in wet several hours
    i bad på ljumm-et regn-vatten…
    in bath on lukewarm-DEF.N rain+water

d. Czech:

  • kde ho několik hodin namáčeli
    where he:ACC several hours:GEN make_wet:PAST.3PL
    do lázní z vlažné dešťové vody
    in bath:GEN with lukewarm:GEN.F rainy:GEN.F water:GEN

e. Polish:

  • gdzie go przez wiele godzin moczono
    where he:ACC during many hours make_wet:PASS.PART.N.SG
    w kąpieli z letniej wody deszczowej
    in bath:LOC with lukewarm:INSTR.F water:INSTR rainy:INSTR.F

f. Lithuanian:

  • kur daug valandų mirkė drungno
    where many hours:GEN soak:PAST.3SG lukewarm:GEN
    lietaus vandens
    rainy:GEN.M water:GEN

(«ParaSol: A Parallel Corpus of Slavic and other languages», Regensburg Uni & Uni of Bern, [http://www.uni-regensburg.de/Fakultaeten/phil_Fak_IV/Slavistik/RPC/, cf. Waldenfels (2006])

  • Extreme temperatures: in Ewe water has five temperature values for – cool/cold (), lukewarm (gblɔ), hot (dzo), painfully hot () and boiling hot (fie) (Ameka in prep.), as opposed to the binary cold–hot opposition for the other entities.
  • TACTILE vs. AMBIENT temperature: in Hiw (Oceanic) the non-tactile ‘cold’ describes water in the sea (François 2008); the non-tactile ‘hot’ in Sɛlɛɛ (Ghana Togo Mountain, Niger-Kongo) describes hot water that is emitting vapour (Agbetsoamedo & Di Garbo in prep.).

Persons and their body-parts:

• PERSONAL-FEELING temperatures (It is +45℃, Peter is feeling hot)

• TACTILE temperatures (Peter feels hot, he must have fever)

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