Polysemy networks in language contact: The borrowing of the Greek-origin preposition κατά (kata) in Coptic

Eitan Grossman, Stéphane Polis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper explores a particular aspect of the semantics of adposition borrowing, focusing on the extent to which polysemy networks associated with model language adpositions are copied in the target language. We make use of the distinction between comparative concepts and descriptive categories (Haspelmath 2010) to describe the integration of loanwords in a target language, in this case Greek-origin adpositions in Coptic. Taking the Greek-origin adposition κατά (katá) in Coptic as a case study, we show that entire polysemy networks are not borrowed. Rather, only some sections – not necessarily contiguous on a semantic map – of polysemy networks are borrowed. We conclude that this points to the possibility that loanwords are bor- rowed in individual constructions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGreek Influence on Egyptian-Coptic
Subtitle of host publicationContact-Induced Change in an Ancient African Language (DDGLC Working Papers 1)
Editors Peter Dils , Eitan Grossman , Tonio Sebastian Richter , Wolfgang Schenkel
Place of PublicationHamburg
PublisherWidmaier Verlag
ISBN (Print) 9783943955170
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameLingua Aegyptia Studia Monographica
NameDDGLC Working Papers


  • Greek;
  • Coptic
  • polysemy networks
  • language contact
  • adposition
  • borrowing
  • semantic maps


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