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The Language of Space

The Perceptual Basis of Spatial Representation.  Published 2010. In V. Evans and P. Chilton (eds.).  Language, Cognition and Space: The State of the Art and New Directions.  Equinox publishing.  

This chapter is concerned with i) the perception of space, and the way in which spatial experience is ‘constructed’ by virtue of our sense-perceptory systems and brain mechanisms, and ii) how spatial experience is ‘redescribed’, giving rise to foundational spatial concepts prior to the emergence of language from around one year onwards.

Spatial Experience, Lexical Structure and Motivation: The Case of In. (With Andrea Tyler). Published 2004.  In G. Radden and K. Panther. Studies in Linguistic Motivation, pp. 157-192. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

This paper takes issue with the received view of lexical structure, which views the lexicon as being the repository of the arbitrary and the idiosyncratic. It is argued that the lexicon is systematically motivated. The traditional view of the lexicon is shown to be inadequate in three ways. These relate to the fact that a word can take on new meanings in novel contexts, that words tend to be polysemous, and that a single word can appear in a range of different lexical classes. A case study of in is presented to illustrate the issues at hand.


Rethinking English "Prepositions of Movement": The Case of To and Through. (With Andrea Tyler). Published 2004.  In H. Cuyckens, W. de Mulder and T. Mortelmans (eds.), Adpositions of Movement, pp. 247-270.  (Belgian Journal of Linguistics, 18). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 


This paper argues against the view that prepositions designate motion. It is suggested that prepositions such as to and through are associated with spatial properties in addition to a functional element. The functional element arises as a consequence of our daily interaction with the spatial-configuration associated with the particular preposition. The 'movement' reading often associated with these prepositions results from the integration of spatial and functional elements with sentential context.

Reconsidering Prepositional Polysemy Networks: The Case of Over. (With Andrea Tyler). 2001. Language, 77, 4, 724-765.  Reprinted in B. Nerlich, L. Todd, V. Herman and D.D. Clarke (eds.) 2003. Polysemy: Flexible Patterns of Meaning in Mind and Language, pp. 95-160.  Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 

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 quality of the mental lexicon and the highly creative nature of the human conceptual system.

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