[Lingtyp] Is the connection between simplicity and intensity universal

tangzhengda tangzhengda at 126.com
Sat Jun 5 00:08:29 UTC 2021

Dear all,

Words with the lexical meaning of 'with simplicity' are likely to grammaticalize into intensives, or 'intensifiers', e.g. English 'simply', Chinese jianzhi (简直,lit simple and straight), and may be Roman languages also.  It is thus interesting to have the potential to express 'In a plain, homely, or frugal manner', 'inadequately' and 'absolutely, extraordinarily' by the same word.

I wonder if the connection, both synchronical and diachronical, between 'being simple' and 'being intense' somewhat universal?Are there more languages that coincidentally have such intensifier-used lexicons indicating 'simplicity'?

Thanks a lot

With best wishes


Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,
No.5 Jianguomennei Dajie, Beijing, China; 100732
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