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ON : Values and Invariance


ON displays a variety of values which may appear to be wholly unrelated. For instance:-identification with a surface (the book on the table)-continuity (The show must go on)-detrimental effect (Don't walk out on me)-goal (The missile homed in on the target)-binary oppositions (on the one hand / contrary/ left / the outside…) While certain analyses have focused on specific values – mainly the spatial and / or temporal values (Eg. Bennett 1975, Herskovits 1986, Lee 2001) – others have sought to account for the overall semantic flexibility of ON (Eg. Lindstromberg 1998). To account for this semantic flexibility, we will rely on an abstract set of topological features, which Talmy (2000) described as a " ribbonal " ground: " The board lay across the railway bed. The preposition here indicates that the figure (the board) is linear, that the Ground (the railway bed) is " ribbonal " —in other words, a plane bounded along two parallel edges (what Herskovits (1986) terms a " strip ")—and that these two forms bear certain positional and orientational relations to each other… " (Talmy, 2000:189) 1 It appears that different positional and orientational relationships can be derived from the different dimensions of a ribbonal ground. Although the concept was originally coined to account for the semantics of ACROSS, 'ribbonality' actually provides an apt description of the topological scene associated ON: 1: Surface 2: laterality 3: Path Several properties can be derived from each of these topological dimensions. For Instance, the Path dimension is consistent with aspectual properties such as openness and continuity: to be on fire, to be on duty, on and on…, whereas laterality is in agreement with data such as on the one hand, on the other hand, etc. As we shall see, each of these three dimensions actually gives way to both extensional and qualitative construals. Hence, in this framework, the semantic plasticity can be analysed as a set.


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Dates and versions

hal-01345624 , version 1 (02-03-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-01345624 , version 1


Lionel Dufaye. ON : Values and Invariance. 2021. ⟨hal-01345624⟩


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