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Polysémie et structuration du lexique: le cas du wolof

Emphasizing on the key role of polysemy in forming the lexicon is the main goal to be achieved in this dissertation paper. The paper suggests a qualitative evaluation of polysemy in comparing it with other relations that form the lexicon. The research confirms that the polysemic links must not be modeled independently from derivation or conversion. This evaluation leads us to reveal that the boundary between polysemy and conversion is porous.

Olivier Bondéelle
13 May 2015
Full text in Leiden University Repository

The properties of analogy has been used to compare the relations, which is well adapted in characterizing the links between relations. They are the links that connect lexis which form the objects of a comparison. A polysemic link is a link by which two lexis are connected to each other in a polysemic relation. This link can be compared to a link that connects two other lexis in a relation of conversion.

In this dissertation, Wolof, an Atlantic language in West-Africa, is studied. This language provides a fertile breeding ground for the explorations. A large scale of different morphological processes form the lexicon (like suffix derivation, derivations from consonant alternation and conversion by changes in nominal class morphemes). 
The descriptive contribution of this research is to explore the semantic fields of artifacts and emotions in Wolof lexicon. These fields have never been described in an African language taking the lexicon formation into consideration.

The methodology applied here is to describe both the meanings of the lexical units and the semantic links by which they are connected by a unique metalanguage. That unique metalanguage is called the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM), which is applied here to Wolof.


  • Prof.dr. Maarten Mous
  • Prof.dr. Sylvain Kahane (université Paris-Oust Nanterre - CNRS MoDyCo) 
  • Dr. Felix Ameka 


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