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Semantic primes are lexicalized concepts represented in every language that are innate to the speaker. These concepts, introduced by Anna Wierzbicka, are universal and are, as Wierzbicka claims, “the elements which can be used to define the meaning of words (or any other meanings) but cannot be defined themselves,” (2004). Since Wierzbicka’s original claim, many more semantic primes have been added to this list of terms, which now contains 65 different universally accepted concepts including the word ‘moment’. The concept behind ‘moment’ is thought to be lexicalized in every language to exist; however, it does not seem to appear in Lushootseed, a Native American language belonging to the Salishan family. The term ‘moment’ does not appear in any of the following: *Lushootseed Dictionary *by Dawn Bates, Thom Hess and Vi Hilbert, *Lushootseed Book 1 *by Thom Hess and Vi Hilbert, and *Glossary to Accompany Lushootseed Reader with Intermediate Grammar Volume II *by Thom Hess. Other primes relating to this idea of time exist within the language, such as ‘a long time’ and ‘now’, but ‘moment’ does not appear nor do any synonyms. This presentation will explain what semantic primes are, studies the behaviors and functions of some semantic primes in Lushootseed and explores why ‘moment’ may not be a part of this language.
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