Ferrier, Gillian Maver
A geometry without angles: the case for a functional geometry of spatial prepositions.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This thesis develops the view that the semantics of spatial prepositions are more fully realised within a framework of functionality, incorporating knowledge of the world, than within the spatial, geometrical framework more often used to analyse prepositions. It is argued that previous approaches which support full specification of lexical entries through the use of polysemy and prototype notions are not satisfactory or psychologically valid. It will also be shown that the minimal specification Classical approaches fail to account for all uses of the locatives described. It is suggested that minimal specification of lexical entries can be achieved by means of functional controls that can provide a more psychologically valid account of the semantics of spatial prepositions.
Functional geometric control relations of fContainment, fSupport and fSuperiority are proposed for IN, ON and OVER respectively. These focus on the importance of location control in prepositional choice. It is argued that such controls underlie the use of spatial prepositions. The controls are suggested to be inherently dynamic and state that the relatum object is some way able to control the location of the referent object. For example, the use of the preposition IN is guided by the principle of fContainment which operates on the basic premise that the relatum (y) controls the location of the referent (x) such that when y moves there will be a correlated movement in x (or uncorrelated movement within the convex hull of y) by virtue of some degree of enclosure. The control relation that guides the use of OVER is fSuperiority and it operates on the basic premise that x threatens to come into contact with y as a consequence of gravitational force. Finally, the use of the preposition ON is suggested to be guided by notions of fSupport which operates on the premise that the relatum protects the referent from the force of gravity.
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