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On Polysemy Of English Prepositions Under The Cognitive Framework

Posted on:2012-04-12Degree:MasterType:Thesis
Country:ChinaCandidate:Z LiFull Text:PDF
GTID:2155330332990608Subject:English Language and Literature
Abstract/Summary:Request the full-text of this thesis
There exists one common phenomenon in the natural language, namely the phenomena of polysemy. One word has one meaning at the beginning of being created, but along with the social development, the new thing, the new thought and the new concept emerges unceasingly. In objective world the thing is infinite, but in human language glossary is a limited set. Therefore, the human being endow the old words with the new meanings so as to satisfy their own needs for expressing the objective world, which is the most direct and simplest way. In a sense, the process of meaning change is the process of the polysemy coming into being. As a typical polysemic phenomenon, prepositions have been researched since ancient times, and among these researches two camps can be divided—the traditional and the cognitive. The traditional grammarians describe the preposition based on its function and meaning on the sentence. The deficiency of this point of view lies in laying undue stress on the internal mechanism of the language system, and neglecting the relationship between the language internal system and outside world, and the cognition process of human being to the language. The philosophical basis and the language view of the cognitive linguistics emerged in the 1970s was different from the traditional linguistics. It started from the cognitive point of view, paved a new way for the language study. The cognitive linguistics thought that the language is the most important method for the sensation of the outside world, and that the human language stems from human's cognitive structure. Therefore, regarding the prepositions, the research on polysemy phenomenon of them should be along the road of analyzing humanity's cognitive structure. The cognitive linguistics supposes that all entries of a word composes an open semantic category, in which the central meaning of the word is treated as a prototype and along with the language use and development, the central meaning then extends outward, and finally into other senses. These closely interrelated senses constitute the semantic network of the word.This thesis will take the preposition to as the object of study, and under the framework of the cognitive grammar analyze the polysemy of it on the basis of the theory of the prototype category and the image scheme, and through analysis of to's semantic extension cognition mechanism—concept metaphor. And the polysemy networks of to will be constructed in the end.The article has carried on the brief reviews and comments about the research on the polysemic phenomenon of prepositions by the previous domestic and foreign scholars. Afterward the related theories within the cognitive linguistics are introduced: the prototype theory, the image scheme theory and the conceptual metaphor theory and so on. The relationship among the language, the cognition and the objective world are also presented. Thus it can be seen that studies on polysemy should start with the analysis of humanity's cognitive structure, but should not regard the language itself in an isolated perspective. These theories and their close relations lay the solid rationale for the following research.Through the analysis of the preposition to's cognitive process of the semantic extension, as well as the construction of the polysemic network, this thesis further confirms that preposition to takes the spatial prototypical sense as a core, and forms the semantic network in which the physical space, as a core, extends outward through the transformation of the prototypical image scheme and the metaphorical maps from the concrete domains onto the abstract concept ones.The research significance of this thesis mainly manifests in the following two aspects: First, although many researchers have made the detailed analysis of the prepositional polysemy from the cognitive angle, but the very few scholars summarize the semantic structure of the preposition to. Next, through the analysis of all senses of to and the construction of its semantic network, it has further proved that the transformation of the prototypical image scheme as well as the metaphorical mapping can be well explanatory basis for the phenomenon of the prepositional polysemy.
Keywords/Search Tags:prototype theory, image schema, conceptual metaphor, metaphorical extension
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