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The Linguistics of Temperature

Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria, ed. 2015. The Linguistics of Temperature. Vol. 107. Typological Studies in Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

“A groundbreaking collaborative work in lexical typology, which will quite possibly be seen as the beginning of a new era in the study of world-wide word meanings.” — Martin Haspelmath, University of Leipzig

“A cool collection guaranteed to heat up the discussion on sensory language. Koptjevskaja-Tamm provides an inspiring volume on the linguistics of temperature.” — Asifa Majid, Radboud University Nijmegen

For detailed information, including chapter abstracts, see:


The volume is the first comprehensive typological study of the conceptualisation of temperature in languages as reflected in their systems of central temperature terms (hot, cold, to freeze, etc.). The key issues addressed here include questions such as how languages categorize the temperature domain and what other uses the temperature expressions may have, e.g., when metaphorically referring to emotions (‘warm words’). The volume contains studies of more than 50 genetically, areally and typologically diverse languages and is unique in considering cross-linguistic patterns defined both by lexical and grammatical information. The detailed descriptions of the linguistic and extra-linguistic facts will serve as an important step in teasing apart the role of the different factors in how we speak about temperature – neurophysiology, cognition, environment, social-cultural practices, genetic relations among languages, and linguistic contact. The book is a significant contribution to semantic typology, and will be of interest for linguists, psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers. Most chapters are based on the same elicitation questionnaire, originally developed by Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm (

List of contents

Introducing “The linguistics of temperature” Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm 1 – 40

Part 1: Africa

“Hard sun, hot weather, skin pain”: The cultural semantics of temperature expressions in Ewe and Likpe (West Africa) Felix K. Ameka 43 – 72

The semantics and metaphorical extensions of temperature terms in Gurenɛ Samuel Awinkene Atintono 73 – 106

Unravelling temperature terms in Sɛlɛɛ* Yvonne Agbetsoamedo and Francesca Di Garbo 107 – 127

Lexicalisation of temperature concepts in Gbaya (an Ubanguian language of C.A.R.) Paulette Roulon-Doko 128 – 150

Climate, temperature and polysemous patterns in French and Wolof Loïc-Michel Perrin 151 – 186

Temperature terms in selected African languages: A pilot study Henrike Firsching 187 – 212

Part 2: Eurasia

Adjectives of temperature in Latvian Natalia Perkova 216 – 253

What’s hot and what’s not in English and Serbian: A contrastive view on the polysemy of temperature adjectives Katarina Rasulic 254 – 299

In the warmth of the Ukrainian temperature domain* Anna Kryvenko 300 – 332

Asymmetries in Italian temperature terminology Silvia Luraghi 333 – 353

Temperature terms in Modern Greek* Katerina Stathi 354 – 391

Temperature terms in Modern Eastern Armenian Michael A. Daniel and Viktoria Khurshudian 392 – 439

Facts, feelings and temperature expressions in the Hindukush Henrik Liljegren and Naseem Haider 440 – 470

Blowing hot, hotter, and hotter yet: Temperature vocabulary in Marathi Prashant Pardeshi and Peter Edwin Hook 471 – 490

Temperature adjectives in Finnish Päivi Juvonen and Ahti Nikunlassi 491 – 536

Temperature terms in Nganasan Maria Brykina and Valentin Gusev 537 – 569

Temperature terms in Khalkha Mongolian (Extended version of chapter available here: File:Brosigextended.pdf) Benjamin Brosig 570 – 593

Temperature terms in Lao, Southern Zhuang, Southern Pinghua and Cantonese Hilário de Sousa, François Langella and N.J. Enfield 594 – 638

Subdomains of temperature concepts in Japanese Mika Shindo 639 – 665

Why is it not cool? Temperature terms in Indonesian Poppy Siahaan 666 – 700

Part 3: The Americas

Temperature domain in West Greenlandic Justyn Salamon 703 – 720

“There is no thermostat in the forest” – the Ojibwe temperature term system Hunter Lockwood and Susanne Vejdemo 721 – 741

Temperature terms and their meaning in Yucatec Maya (Mexico) Olivier Le Guen 742 – 775

Temperature terms in Mapudungun Fernando Zúñiga 776 – 791

Temperature terms in Hup, a Nadahup language of Amazonia Patience Epps 792 – 812

Part 4: Australia and Oceania

Bardi temperature terms Claire Bowern and Laura Kling 815 – 831

Temperature terms in northern Vanuatu Alexandre François 832 – 857

Temperature terms in Kamang and Abui, two Papuan languages of Alor Antoinette Schapper 858 – 886

Part 5: Typology

The syntax of temperature predications Regina Pustet 889 – 916

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