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The presentation will trace the history of the Polish word obcy, whose original meaning of
common, joint, mutual, societal, collective, communal, or public, has changed over time to mean alien, foreign, or strange, while in other Slavic languages the word retained its original meaning.
The lecture will introduce a hypothesis that the semantic shift of obcy was motivated by the emergence of the szlachta (noble) social class and its ethos of sobiepaństwo (self-mastery), which shifted Polish society from collectivist to (partially) individualistic.
About the Speaker: Katarzyna Dziwirek is professor and chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Washington, where she teaches Polish and linguistics. Her research interests focus on semantics and syntax, especially cross-linguistic variation in expression of emotion and perception. She is the author of Polish Subjects (1994 Garland Publishing), co-editor of Studies in Cognitive Corpus Linguistics (2009 Peter Lang Publishing Group), and co-author of Complex Emotions and Grammatical Mismatches: A Contrastive Corpus-Based Study (2010 Mouton de Gruyter), as well as numerous articles and chapters.