Final Colloquium: "The Cognitive Polysemy of Sensory Terms in Sanskrit", by Mr. Naresh Keerthi, Lecture Hall, NIAS, 11:30hrs

National Institute of Advanced Studies

Indian Institute of Science Campus



Final Colloquium



Title: The Cognitive Polysemy of Sensory Terms in Sanskrit


Candidate: Mr. Naresh Keerthi

Advisor: Prof. Rajesh Kasturirangan

Date:  Tuesday, 13 March, 2018

Time:  11:30 am

Venue: Lecture Hall, NIAS 


Abstract: Colour terms have occupied scholars of modern as well as historical languages. From William Gladstone’s (1858) study of the use of colour terms in Homeric Greek,  to the large-scale World Colour Survey carried out by Kay and Berlin (1963), there is a diverse range of analytical approaches that have tried to explain or model the many complex ways in which our sensory experience and our verbal symbols for these experiences coincide.   


Colour terms demonstrate a great deal of versatility in connotation – they often index other (non-colour) visual features, and their semantic content often spills over into emotion, aesthetic or moral domains. This polyvalence of meaning is particularly striking in Sanskrit. Tradition lexicons(Kośa) as well as treatises of poetics (Alaṅkāraśāstra) have some of this information, but it is dispersed in different sections. My thesis tracks the ebb and tide in the semantic field of some (so-called) visual terms in Sanskrit, and offers insights about the role of metaphor in motivating these shifts in meaning.


The study relies the Cognitive Linguistics account of Conceptual Metaphor (Kovecses: 2010) and its relation to polysemy, but suggests the use of a modified account of Metaphor based on the theory discussed by the Sanskrit poetician Mammata (11th century CE), to accommodate the identification and study of novel as well as conventional metaphors. The detailed semantic analysis of lexemes such as aruṇa and citra; and the discussion of the affective semiotics of dyestuffs is material accumulated towards a historical thesaurus of colour in Sanskrit.  The research embodied in this thesis also sheds light on the possibilities and challenges of extending contemporary techniques of metaphor, corpus linguistics, and electronic lexicography to a historical language.


All are invited to attend

Tuesday, March 13, 2018