The Development of the Polysemous Networks of ‘One’-Phrase Through Constructional Changes
The focus of this chapter is on the internal changes of constructions during the process of building and shaping a polysemy model. This chapter takes a constructional approach to show how a synchronic polysemy network has been shaped by diachronic realignments of form and meaning. The synchronic and diachronic connection is illustrated by the interpretational variability of Mandarin Chinese ‘one’-phrases. When the numeral is ‘one’, the combination is not only used for counting, referencing, and quantifying, but also used as an emphatic negative polarity item (NPI), and an attenuating positive polarity item (PPI). Not only do the results show that the conceptualization of quantity denoted by Chinese numeral phrases varies with the scales provided by these constructions, but they also provide evidence of the cognitive mechanism of making generalizations which result in semantic extensions.