[Lingtyp] Is the connection between simplicity and intensity universal

Daniel Ross djross3 at gmail.com
Sat Jun 5 00:28:24 UTC 2021

Maybe simple > pure (not diluted) > complete > strong > intense?

I don't know whether this is widespread or universal, but the etymology
seems to be relatively direct and I wouldn't be surprised if it develops
independently in different languages.

The English adverb "simply" is probably somewhere between stages 2 and 3 of
that development, e.g. "It was simply amazing!" ('clearly', 'completely').
Note that "clearly" and "completely" also fit into that pathway, although
they start at stages 2 and 3 respectively.


On Fri, Jun 4, 2021 at 5:08 PM tangzhengda <tangzhengda at 126.com> wrote:

> 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
> Jeremy
> Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,
> No.5 Jianguomennei Dajie, Beijing, China; 100732
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> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
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