Study of Linguistic Areas: Evidence from Cultural Words, Semantic Maps, and Spatial Reference in Southeast Asia

  • Stefanie SiebenhütterEmail author
Reference work entry


This chapter describes a case study of spatial reference in Thai, Lao, Khmer, and Vietnamese within the field of areal linguistics. As space is seen as one of the basic domains of conceptualization, spatial reference provides an exemplary approach for investigation at the conceptual-semantic level. It is widely agreed that Mainland Southeast Asia forms one of the prime examples of a linguistic area or Sprachbund. Traditionally, languages which show a significant amount of parallels on the morphological, phonetic, and structural level developed during long-term contacts even though they are belonging to different language families which form a distinct linguistic area. At this point, the conceptual-semantic level as a criterion for linguistic areas is underexplored in the literature. By identifying a significant number of parallels and conceptual borrowings of semantic value of static spatial reference, this chapter analyzes further opportunities for studying linguistic areas.


Areal linguistics Conceptual transfer Semantic convergence Culture words Language contact ISO 639-3 codes: tha, lao, khm, vie, ind 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ludwig Maximilians University MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of English and LinguisticsJohannes Gutenberg University MainzMainzGermany

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