Latin dē, both in its prepositional and preverbal form, is characterized by multiple, varied, and seemingly unrelated senses. Unlike proposition-based lexicographical and historical linguistic accounts, an image-schematic definition systematically explains the range of its literal, physical senses and of its figurative, abstract senses, as well as the relations between them. Defining dē in terms of an image-schematic “scenario” portraying two entities connected by a directional trajectory in fact accommodates the co-existence of even antonymous senses within this word's semantic structure and apparently radical divergences from its presumed essential literal meaning in Latin literature, due to the susceptibility of image schemas to “embodied” transformations such as perspective shifts and profiling effects. Dē's more abstract senses may also be linked in this way to widespread metaphorical patterns in Latin, showing that these senses are not haphazard but highly motivated semantically—with significant implications for lexicography, and literary and cultural history.
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