Spatial Semantics

  title={Spatial Semantics},
  author={Jordan Zlatev},
This chapter presents an overview of cognitive linguistic research in spatial semantics, i.e., investigations into the meaning of spatial language that regard language as an integrated part of human cognition. This rather broad definition is meant to cover not only the type of research that can be said to constitute 'the prototype' within Cognitive Linguistics (e.g., by Lakoff, Langacker, and Talmy) but also research that 'deviates' from this prototype (e.g., by Jackendoff, Levinson, and Sinha… 

Figures from this paper

The semantics of spatial prepositions: the main trends of research
The modern line of investigation may provide more possibilities for researchers interested in one language and/or in cross-linguistic studies, thus contributing to the development of lexicography, translation, and other fields of applied linguistics.
Effects of animacy and linguistic construction on the interpretation of spatial descriptions in English and Spanish
abstract The languages of the world differ in their use of intrinsic, relative, and absolute reference frames to describe spatial relationships, but factors guiding reference frame choices are not
Frames of reference and the encoding of spatial location in Mandarin Chinese
This article attempts to account for how the static spatial relations of location between objects are encoded in Mandarin Chinese with Levinson's notions of frames of reference and Talmy's concept of Figure-Ground relations as theoretical guidance to propose that spatial relations are not natural entities in the physical world, but abstract ones that are construed and conceptualized subjectively by human beings.
Ecological meaning, linguistic meaning, and interactivity
Abstract Human language is extraordinarily meaningful. Well-spoken or well-written passages can evoke our deepest emotions and elicit all manner of conscious and subconscious reactions. This is
Studies in Language and Cognition
Using a plethora of concepts, theories and methods, the theoretical and empirical studies described in this volume are united in their approach of treating language not in isolation (e.g. as a
The expression of non-actual motion in Swedish sign language
A small elicitation study was conducted on the basis of theoretical and empirical considerations of the spatial semantics and form-meaning mappings of Swedish Sign Language (SSL), which provides further support for theories suggesting that cognitive processes such as enactive perception and mental scanning motivate the use of NAM-sentences in SSL just as for spoken languages.
Actual and non-actual motion: why experientialist semantics needs phenomenology (and vice versa)
Experientialist semantics has contributed to a broader notion of linguistic meaning by emphasizing notions such as construal, perspective, metaphor, and embodiment, but has suffered from an
Spatial deixis in Yashar Kemal’s Iron Earth Copper Sky
The concept of space expresses a basic semantic category such as tense, mood, person in linguistics. Spatial entities, which have a relationship similar to the figure-ground relationship in Gestalt
Dutch thetic and sentence-focus constructions on the semantics-pragmatics interface
Analysis of the various uses of a Dutch thetic and sentence-focus construction, viz. the Syntactic Inversion with Filler Insertion Construction (henceforth: SIFIC), shows that the SIFIC can have information-structural uses that are diametrically opposed to theticity and sentences-focus, i.e. topic-comment structure, predicate-focus articulation and categorical judgment.
Reference Point and Case
This monograph answers the rarely discussed questions of why complicated grammatical case phenomena exist in Korean and what the connection is between the case forms and their functions. The author


The Semantics of English Prepositions: Spatial Scenes, Embodied Meaning, and Cognition
This analysis articulates an alternative methodology that distinguishes between a conventional meaning and an interpretation produced for understanding the preposition in context, as well as establishing which of several competing senses should be taken as the primary sense.
Distributed Spatial Semantics
It is argued that spatial relational semantic information is not exclusively carried in languages such as English by the locative particle, and that “item-specific meanings plus selectional restrictions” cannot save the localist approach.
Relativism in the linguistic representation and cognitive conceptualisation of motion events across verb-framed and satellite-framed languages.
This thesis offers empirical linguistic data to confirm - and also challenge - the fixedness of the patterns identified by e.g. Talmy, exploring whether linguistic patterns for motion encoding exert a decisive influence on the non-linguistic conceptualisation of motion, resulting in the two language communities differing in their cognitive appreciation of otherwise similar motion events.
The linguistic construction of space in Ewe
77/M paper presents the linguistic means of describing spatial relations in Ewe with particular emphasis on the grammar and meaning of adpositions. Ewe ( N iger-Congo ) has two sets of adpositions:
Reconsidering Prepositional Polysemy Networks: The Case of Over
This article explores lexical polysemy through an in-depth examination of the English preposition over. Working within a cognitive linguistic framework, the present study illustrates the nonarbitrary
▪ Abstract This review describes some recent, unexpected findings concerning variation in spatial language across cultures, and places them in the context of the general anthropology of space on the
Holistic spatial semantics of Thai
This paper will try to show that HSS allows a perspicacious analysis of the complicated semantic and syntactic interdependencies between the members of a number of distinct form classes, exemplified in (1).
Comparative Spatial Semantics and Language Acquisition: Evidence from Danish, English, and Japanese
Although the structure of the target language affects the specific strategies employed by the language acquiring child, the patterns of production development in all three languages appear to be instances of a general class of conservative learning strategies.
The Epigenesis of Meaning in Human Beings, and Possibly in Robots
A model of human cognitive and linguistic development is proposed according to which physical, social and linguistic interactions between the individual and the environment have their respective peaks in three consecutive stages of development: episodic, mimetic and symbolic.