|Abstract: ||The subject of the dissertation is the analysis of semantic development of a group of parametric dimensional adjectives: duży /wielki – mały, wysoki – niski, głęboki – płytki / miałki, gruby /miąższy – cienki (the counterparts of English big/great – small, tall/high – low/short, deep – shallow, thick – thin). The main aim of the author was to show how the system of Polish dimensional adjectives was created and to describe its semantic evolution. The dissertation is syncretic in methodology. It uses the tools of different methodologies (e.g. semantic fields). Its important source of inspiration is cognitivism and cultural linguistics (e.g. the notion of extended meaning, conceptual metaphor and stressing the importance of etymology and connotations for the linguistic development of lexemes).
The dissertation consists of a methodological chapter, which is an overview of the works devoted to the subject of semantic change, and parametric dimensional adjectives as well as three empirical chapters. Chapter 1. shows that there has not been an extensive research into Polish parametric dimensional adjectives from the perspective of diachrony. Chapters 2.- 5. present the semantics of adjectives : duży /wielki – mały, wysoki – niski, głęboki – płytki / miałki, gruby /miąższy – cienki. Each presents the derivational nests of the lexemes and the semantic fields of spatial qualities which they formed. They are followed by chapter 6., in which the analysed lexemes were juxtaposed in order to show the similarities and the differences between them. The ending presents the perspectives of further comparative research in this field.
The lexemes which are the subject of analysis are of Proto-Slavic origin. They belong thus to the oldest part of Polish lexis. Most of them were already lexicalized in the earliest period of Polish language. The research shows that some of the current parametric dimensional adjectives had their counterparts on some stage of the development of Polish language. These counterparts went out of use, narrowed their meaning (as in the case of the lexeme miałki), specialized it or changed the semantic dominant (as in the case of lexeme duży), which can be explained as a manifestation of self-regulatory quality of language. The current system of Polish parametric dimensional adjectives was probably formed at the beginning of the XIX th century, when lexeme miałki lost its dominance, adjective miąższy went out of use and duży lost its originally dominating meaning ‘powerful, forceful’.
Although polysemy of the analysed lexemes was of various complexity (adjectives głęboki, wysoki, wielki and mały had the largest number of meanings and płytki, duży and miałki – the smallest) the comparison of their semantics made it possible to indicate a group of shared meanings. These are, apart from spatial meanings: other physical qualities, time duration, mental abilities, character, intensivity and synaesthetic meanings such as the reference to voice, sound, colour and taste. A tendency to reduce polysemy and cristallize semantic dominant has been also observed in this group of lexemes. The most stable elements of the semantics were spatial meanings as well as those referring to intensity and sensual perception, the least ones were: the characteristics of mental qualities and character as well as the meanings which go against the usual direction of evaluation.
The research shows that semantics of a given lexeme is influenced by the relations in the semantic field, the meaning of its antonyms, its etymology and the connotations related to it, the social and cultural factors, the influence of other languages, the inner self-regulatory mechanism of language as well as the way human mind conceptualizes the reality (by synaesthesy, conceptual metaphors, axiologization of space). It also confirmed K. Kleszczowa’s thesis that the most permanent elements of language are those lexemes which are lexicalized, form the centre of complex derivational nests, have the meaning referring to the fields which are not influenced by civilization change, have the high level of polysemy and wide range of meaning. One exception is lexeme duży which initially neither formed a complex derivational nest nor had such high text frequency as lexeme wielki.The analysis of semantic development of this group of lexemes opens the way to some wider comparative research in this field.|