Spatial Semantics

Jordan Zlatev

in The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199738632
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Spatial Semantics

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This article focuses on cognitive linguistic research in spatial semantics, that is, the meaning of spatial language that regards 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, but also research that “deviates” from this prototype. Despite substantial differences between the various approaches to spatial semantics, one can discern a basic set of spatial semantic concepts within the literature. This article provides a brief review of the empirical basis for such generalizations, showing an initial focus on European languages, and a gradual movement toward non-Indo-European languages and eventually more general typological frameworks. It tackles four controversies, often discussed in connection with spatial semantics, but of more general significance for linguistic theory. The article also considers seven spatial concepts that are present in almost all descriptions of spatial semantics: trajector, landmark, frame of reference, region, path, direction, and motion.

Keywords: spatial semantics; spatial language; cognitive linguistics; European languages; linguistic theory; trajector; landmark; frame of reference; region; path

Article.  13623 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Semantics

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