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A construction grammar approach to spatial prepositions in modern standard Arabic

Peate, J 2012, A construction grammar approach to spatial prepositions in modern standard Arabic , PhD thesis, Salford: University of Salford.

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The study adopts a construction grammar approach to examining the meaning of spatial prepositions in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), critically examines traditional accounts of the semantic character and syntactic role of MSA prepositions and posits an alternative approach based on construction grammar theory and findings from interrogation of corpora. Arguments about the nature of prepositions and their role in meaning construction have long been afflicted by circularity and methodological opportunism. The theoretical premises of the study are crucially informed by the works of William Croft and Ronald Langacker on aspects of construction grammar; George Lakoff, Ronald Langacker and Leonard Talmy on grammatical theory and lexical categories; George Lakoff, Mark Johnson and others on conceptual metaphor; and Gilles Fauconnier and others on conceptual blending. The study attempts not just to address the limitations of formalist approaches, but also to develop a functionalist approach to the characterisation of MSA spatial prepositions, something largely unaddressed hitherto. The study incorporates extensive qualitative analysis and some quantitative data. It includes a critical discussion of lexically driven accounts of meaning, based on findings from this data, and posits a non-reductionist construction-based account. It addresses the distinction made between 'true' prepositions (^-*jj^ j^ 1 hurufal-jarr) and spatio-temporal contextualisers: 'conditions of place and time' (j^-j^j u^ 1 ^= zarfa al-makan wa-alzamari). It also includes comparative analysis of MSA and British English (BE), through the interrogation of a multi-genre translational corpus, to examine issues of languagespecificity in the category 'preposition'. The study suggests that MSA prepositions can be understood as a category only through taxanomic resemblances of a radial character, that their meaning is both construction- and language-specific and that they exhibit semantic diversity on a spectrum of schematicity, which is largely diachronic in formative character. The specificities of MSA prepositions cannot be adduced to universal syntactic categories and researchers need to eschew analysis framed by the categories of English or other 'reference' languages. The study finally suggests future areas of investigation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Depositing User: WM Taylor
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2016 10:26
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2016 10:26

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