Processes of lexico-semantic birth, death and zombie-hood in the color domain: crosslinguistic and intergenerational data.
How does lexico-semantic change proceed? The color domain is an excellent arena for studies of lexico-semantic processes: the lexical battles that happen when a new concept emerges in a language; the way a new concept can make older concepts shift in semantic space as it grows; the way a dying concept loses both denotational reference area and collocational ability.
I will combine cross-linguistic data from in 7 Germanic languages, with inter-generational data from two generations of Swedish speakers. I will chart the birth and subsequent lexical and semantic upheaval for two young color categories (PINK and PURPLE) that did not exist a few centuries ago in the languages. The two perspectives help elucidate different part of the process. Lexicosemantic change often starts and ends in category peripheries, as "defeated" color terms get marginalized and die - or remain as shadows of their former selves.
(Then, I would like to take five minutes to briefly introduce an upcoming project, "Towards Computational Lexical Semantic Change Detection", which aims to find automatic, corpus-based methods for detecting semantic change and lexical replacement for lesser resourced languages. www.languagechange.org)