The Typology of Physical Qualities
The article compares the qualities ‘sharp’ and 'blunt' in 20 languages. We show that they tend to be unequal, with bluntness being negatively defined through sharpness. The two main oppositions in the domain are 1) the type of sharp object, and 2) the sense through which the quality is primarily experienced. The first opposition divides objects into bladed (knives etc) and pointed (needles etc), the second deals with touch vs. vision and translates to function (sharp/blunt instruments etc) vs. shape (pointed/rounded features etc).
We also find that these oppositions determine the semantic shifts that a word of sharpness or bluntness can have, and that the metaphoric patterns are consistent across languages.
The paper presents a methodology for an automatic construction of a lexical typological questionnaire based on the data from a monolingual Russian National Corpus. Using the domains ‘sharp’, ‘straight’, ‘thick’, and ‘smooth’ as a test dataset, we elaborate an algorithm that constructs a list of collocations for the corresponding Russian adjectives, computes vector representation for every collocation, clusters the vector space into semantically homogenous groups and extracts three central elements from every cluster. We compare the resulting questionnaires with the manually prepared ones, conclude that the suggested methodology demonstrates a high quality and can be implemented in the process of a lexical typological research.