From Opposition to Cooperation: Semantic Change of with

  • Rhee, Seongha (Hankuk Univ. of Foreign Studies & Stanford Univ.)
  • Published : 2004.06.01


A historical investigation reveals that English preposition with underwent a change from OPPOSITION to ASSOCIATION and further to ACCOMPANIMENT, where the first stage shows peculiarity in that the two concepts involved comprise an unusual set to form an extensional chain. Intrigued by this oddity, this paper aims to investigate the semantic structure of English preposition with from a grammaticalization perspective. We review mechanisms and models of semantic change and evaluate their adequacy with the semantic structure and change shown by with. Drawing upon the observed fact that with underwent the apparent antonymic semantic change, it is argued that such semantic change mechanisms as metaphor, metonymy, subjectification, and generalization have difficulties explaining the change, and that only the Frame-of-Focus Variation can effectively account for this peculiar change type. In terms of semantic change models, we argue that the Bleaching Model cannot effectively provide an explanation; that the Loss and Gain Model has problems in explaining the motivation of change directions; that the Metonymic-Metaphoric Model cannot be assessed at the current level of investigation; and that the Overlap Model and the Prototype Extension Model excellently account for the macro-level changes.