The linguistic construction of space in Ewe

Ameka, F. K. (1995). The linguistic construction of space in Ewe. Cognitive Linguistics, 6(2/3), 139-182. doi:10.1515/cogl.1995.6.2-3.139.
This 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: prepositions, which have evolvedfrom verbs, and postpositions which have evolvedfrom nouns. The postpositions create places and are treated äs intrinsic parts or regions of the reference object in a spatial description. The prepositions provide the general orientation of a Figure (located object). It is demonstrated (hat spaiial relations, such äs those encapsulated in "the basic topological prepositions at, in and on" in English (Herskovits 1986: 9), are not encoded in single linguistic elements in Ewe, but are distributed over members of dijferent form classes in a syntagmatic string, The paper explores the r öle of compositionality andits interaction with pragmatics to yield understandings of spatial configurations in such a language where spatial meanings cannot he simply read off one form. The study also examines the diversity among languages in terms of the nature and obligatoriness of the coding of relational and ground Information in spatial constructions. It is argued that the ränge and type of distinctions discussed in the paper must be accountedfor in semantic typology and in the cross-linguistic investigation of spatial language and conceptualisation.
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