[Note: Readers in the southern hemisphere should just store this piece under their beds or in a handy closet for six months. Those near the equator can either rejoice, or bemoan their lack of real seasons. —Eds.]
Spring is in the air! Inch-
Now personifications are all well and good in their place if you’re a “text linguist” or worse a “literature” person: but we’re linguists, and we deal in words, dontcha know! And so the thought arises, much as the new shoots of spring’s first plants poke their eager headlets out from beneath the warming earth: what goes with this word spring?
Strap in, SpecGrammatites: this one’s a roller coaster ride. Coz first up, spring is homonymous: spring the season, spring the rivulet and spring the coiled and flexible metal spiral struggle and fail to instantiate semantic connectedness: it’s a clear-
As if there wasn’t enough custard and raspberry in this knickerbocker glory of spring, the cherry on the top is that this cluster of lexemes forms a glorious example of that second cousin of homonymy which sprang up earlier: polysemy in action. And let’s not forget the colourful idioms that spring has given us: “He’s no spring chicken”, “keep a spring in your step”, etc.
It seems that spring’s not just great for plants and flowers; it’s a microcosm of linguistic fun and learning. So, homonymically and polysemously, word categorically, and word formationally, metaphorico-