The linguistic construction of space in Ewe
Ameka, F. K.
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