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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach is a meaning-based approach to linguistic description, applicable across lexicon, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics. The chapter begins with an outline of the metalanguage of universal semantic primes and its associated universal grammar, then illustrates its application to several domains of lexical semantics. The NSM concepts of semantic templates and semantic molecules are introduced in this context. The chapter next turns to grammatical semantics, covering select topics in universal grammar, the use of semantic prototypes for anchoring grammatical typology in semantic terms, and the notions of grammatical polysemy and ethnosyntax. The chapter closes with a sketch of the pragmatic “sister theory” of NSM semantics, the theory of cultural scripts.

Keywords: semantics, NSM, semantic primes, lexical semantics, semantic universals, semantic templates, semantic molecules, ethnosyntax, grammatical polysemy, universal grammar

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