The Spanish word tiempo: its omnipresence and conceptual, logical and lexical versatility
The common Spanish word tiempo corresponds to three English terms, each of them being a lexical equivalent based on a specific notion: (1) time – physical, astronomical, philosophical reference; (2) weather – geographical, climatological, meteorological reference; (3) tense: linguistic, lexical, grammatical reference. As far as universal and metalinguistic referential distinctions are concerned, all natural languages in fact present a considerable degree of variation ranging from inexistent or very vague to complete differentiation of these terms. In order to express these three types of specific references, some languages have a single word of general usage covering all its lexical acceptations. Therefore in such languages, Spanish included, different references can be distinguished only in part lexically. However, asemantic analysis of the Spanish word tiempo reveals its complexity as well as its conceptual, logical and lexical versatility. This is reflected in its capacity to combine in numerous lexical units, i.e. word compounds and/or phrases, endowed with different or specific semantic meanings. The repertory of these virtual and derived lexical forms appears to be practically unlimited, although their sphere of application and their boundaries are neither always very clear nor precise, which can be illustrated with the examples given in Spanish dictionaries.
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