Transposition (linguistics)

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As transposition ( lat. : Transponere "enable") is called in linguistics - more precisely in the linguistic morphology - the event that a word by word derivation ( derivation ) in a different part of speech is converted that here are those with no word meaning noticeably changed .

The demarcation to normal derivation processes with a change in the meaning of the word is naturally vague. In this context, Lieber (2015) criticizes the fact that the less precise the semantic theories that are used, the more derivative processes would be identified as transposition (cf. Lieber 2015, p. 354).

As a definition, it is suggested, for example, that transposition only contains those semantic changes that the new category characteristic itself already brings with it, or that are directly predictable from it. An example is the nominalization or substantiation of verbs. The nominalization with the affix -ung can refer to the product that arises from the action denoted by the verb (example (a) below); in this case the nominalization changes the meaning and adds the component “product of the action”. The same form can also designate the event itself, apparently just like the underlying verb (example (b)) - in this second case one would then speak of a transposition.

„Die Figuren werden bemalt.“
(a) „Die Bemalung der Figuren ist zu bunt.“
(b) „Die Bemalung der Figuren dauert nicht lange.“


Rochelle Lieber: The semantics of transposition. In: Morphology (2015) 25: 353-369. DOI 10.1007 / s11525-015-9261-4