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Journal Article

Streams of words: Hydrological lexicon in Jahai


Burenhult,  Niclas
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Categories across Language and Cognition, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Language documentation and data mining, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Burenhult, N. (2008). Streams of words: Hydrological lexicon in Jahai. Language Sciences, 30(2/3), 182-199. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2006.12.005.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-2033-A
This article investigates hydrological lexicon in Jahai, a Mon-Khmer language of the Malay Peninsula. Setting out from an analysis of the structural and semantic properties as well as the indigenous vs. borrowed origin of lexicon related to drainage, it teases out a set of distinct lexical systems for reference to and description of hydrological features. These include (1) indigenous nominal labels subcategorised by metaphor, (2) borrowed nominal labels, (3) verbals referring to properties and processes of water, (4) a set of motion verbs, and (5) place names. The lexical systems, functionally diverse and driven by different factors, illustrate that principles and strategies of geographical categorisation can vary systematically and profoundly within a single language.