Verbal prepositions in Norwegian. Paths, places and possession

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Verbal prepositions in Norwegian. Paths, places and possession


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Title: Verbal prepositions in Norwegian. Paths, places and possession
Author: Tungseth, Mai Ellin
Date: 30-May-2006
Type: Doctoral thesis; Doktorgradsavhandling
Abstract: Prepositions belong to a class of small words whose meaning is very difficult to pinpoint once and for all; they are known to change interpretation dependent on the various contexts which they can appear in. This general flexibility which characterizes members of the category P makes them hard to classify, and forms the basis for the work leading up to the dissertation "Verbal Prepositions in Norwegian: Paths, Places, and Possession". The dissertation investigates prepositional phrases (i.e. phrases which has a preposition as their core element) in combination with different types of verbs, and examines what types of meanings which arise when the argument structure of the prepositional phrase is integrated with the argument structure of the verb. Based mainly on data from Norwegian, the dissertation investigates three different empirical domains where prepositional phrases combine with verb phrases in different ways. The interpretations which arise are the result of a combination of the fine-grained structure of the prepositional phrase, the structure of the verb phrase, and the different modes of combination. The dissertation sheds new light on the interplay between (syntactic) structure and (semantic) interpretation, and it also adds new insight about the properties of the category P in Norwegian. The dissertation is also a contribution to the debate between "Lexicalism", on the one hand, and "Constructionism", on the other. Lexicalists assume human beings to be endowed with a separate lexical module, where lexemes are stored together with highly specific argument structure information, and what types of different contexts they can appear in. Constructionists, on the other, reject this view, arguing instead that interpretation is driven solely by properties of the syntactic structure which is built up. The dissertation concludes that a moderate Constructionist model with a fine-grained syntactic structure determining interpretation is best equipped to handle the enormous flexibility of verb-prepositional phrase combinations of the types explored.
Publisher: Universitetet i Tromsø; University of Tromsø

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