In order for communication to take place, there must be a set of core concepts that are universal to all speakers. Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) has proposed an inventory of these concepts, called semantic primes, and uses them as universal concepts in the explication and exploration of cultural values. The English semantic primes, while the majority are Anglo-Saxon, contain words that have been borrowed from Latin, Old Norse, and French. Borrowing lexical items into core vocabulary has many implications. First, the primes are not entirely stable or immune to foreign influence, even the Anglo-Saxon primes have been susceptible to the processes of language change. Second, the primes do not reflect the trends of borrowing in English as a whole. And finally, because the primes are core vocabulary, this study opens up a new aspect of English as a mixed language.
College and Department
Humanities; Linguistics and English Language
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Swan, Karen Esther, "Borrowing the Essentials: A Diachronic Study of the Semantic Primes of Modern English" (2013). Theses and Dissertations. 4249.
English, core vocabulary, Natural Semantic Metalanguage, language change, semantics, universal concepts, Old English