ERIC Number: ED187110
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977
Reference Count: 0
On Defining Prepositions.
van Oosten, Jeanne
Criteria for defining individual members of the preposition word class are set forth. Arguments are presented against calling prepositions meaningless, yet it is conceded and explained that those which occur in wider contexts are vaguer due to their greater variability. The unitary, polysemous, and/or homonymous nature of prepositions are discussed. Prepositions are found to have a single meaning but with some qualifications. Sometimes the choice of a preposition may be conventionally prescribed, either by favoring one of two or more compatible notions or by continuing relics of older uses of prepositions. Semantic reinterpretation may place conventional expressions of the second type among those of the first type. Prepositions in expressions of the second type only accord with their central meaning insofar as they do not contradict it. The central meaning of prepositions occurring in many different environments is the spatial, or most concrete, one. The temporal and abstract uses are derived from the spatial or concrete via a spatial metaphor. (PMJ)
Descriptors: Deep Structure, Definitions, Form Classes (Languages), Grammar, Language Research, Language Usage, Semantics, Structural Grammar, Syntax, Vocabulary
Berkeley Linguistics Society, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 ($8.20 for entire Proceedings)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Prepositional Phrases
Note: Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (3rd, Berkeley, CA, February 19-21, 1977).