Temperature: lexical typology and cognition

MARIA KOPTJEVSKAJA-TAMM (STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY)



7. Conclusions on the structure of the temperature domain

• Linguistic temperature systems are often fairly heterogeneous in that their different parts behave differently

• PERSONAL-FEELING TEMPERATURES are often singled out by languages, conforming to the intuition behind the FrameNet definitions.

  • Personal-feeling temperature terms are often distinct from the others (cf. Firsching forthc.)
  • they may belong to another word class (e.g., verbs as opposed to adjectives)
  • they often have a reduced set of oppositions (e.g., no ‘lukewarm’, no ‘chilly’, no‘warm’)
  • the corresponding “meanings” can often be expressed in other ways:
    • via ambient temperatures (‘it is hot here’)
    • via expressions for symptoms (‘I am sweating’, ‘I am shivering’)
    • via other expression such as ‘I am boiling’, ‘I am fine’

• The linguistic encoding of AMBIENT TEMPERATURE may share properties with that of either TACTILE or PERSONAL-FEELING TEMPERATURE. The motivation for this stems from the conceptual and perceptual affinities of AMBIENT TEMPERATURE with both other kinds of temperature evaluation.

  • On the one hand, AMBIENT and PERSONAL-FEELING TEMPERATURE are similar in being rooted in the same type of experience, thermal comfort. Contrary to those,TACTILE TEMPERATURE relates to temperature sensation, i.e. evaluation of the temperature of other entities.
  • On the one hand, TACTILE and AMBIENT TEMPERATURES are about temperatures that can be verified from “outside”, they are phenomenon-based. Contrary to this, PERSONAL-FEELING TEMPERATURE is experiencer-based in that it is about a living being experiencing a certain state.

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