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The Language Of Space: The Acquisition And Interpretation of Spatial Adpositions In English
Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis by publication presents a study on English adpositions (e.g. to, in, at, from, in frontof, through). It attempts to offer a solution to the following three outstanding problems, whichare presented in each of the three parts making up the thesis, preceded by a general introduction(chapter 1) and followed by the general conclusions (chapter 7). The first part includes chapter2, and discusses the problem of What is the relation between adpositions and the non-linguistic,visual content they represent. The second part includes chapters 3 and 4, and discusses theproblem ofwhat is a proper compositional theory of the Syntax and Semantics of adpositions.The third part includes chapters 5 and 6, and discusses the problem of what is the psychologicalreality of this theory, regarding adults and children’s data.The following three solutions are suggested. First, the relation between adpositions and theircorresponding visual information is an isomorphism: adpositions capture how we “see” possiblespatio-temporal relations between objects, at a flexible level of fine-grainedness. Second, aproper compositional treatment of adpositions treats each syntactic unit (in front, of ) as offeringa distinct semantic contribution, hence spelling out a restricted instance of a spatio-temporalpart-of relation. Third, this compositional treatment of adpositions can also stand as a theory ofon-line interpretation in adults and a theory of their acquisition in children.These three answers are couched within a single theoretical approach, that of Discourse Representation Theory, and offer a unified solution to three apparently distinct problems regardingspatial adpositions and their linguistic properties.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sydney, Australia: Macquarie University Printing services , 2011. , 280 p.
Keyword [en]
Syntax, Semantics, Spatial Prepositions, Language Acquisition
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-85019OAI: diva2:582364
Public defence
2012-04-19, C404, Talavera Road, North Ryde, 12:00 (English)
Available from: 2013-01-04 Created: 2013-01-04 Last updated: 2013-01-04Bibliographically approved

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Ursini, Francesco-Alessio
General Language Studies and Linguistics

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