Corpus Analysis and Lexical Pragmatics: An Overview

in International Review of Pragmatics
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Lexical pragmatics studies the processes by which lexically encoded meanings are modified in use; well-studied examples include lexical narrowing, approximation and metaphorical extension. Relevance theorists have been trying to develop a unitary account on which narrowing, approximation and metaphorical extension are all explained in the same way. While there have been several corpus-based studies of metaphor and a few of hyperbole or approximation, there has been no attempt so far to test the unitary account using corpus data. This paper reports the results of a corpus-based investigation of lexical-pragmatic processes, and discusses the theoretical issues and challenges it raises.