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Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association

Editor-in-Chief: Stefanowitsch, Anatol / Schoenefeld, Doris

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A lexical-semantic analysis of the English prepositions at, on and in and their conceptual mapping onto Arabic

Anwar Almuoseb
Published Online: 2016-12-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/gcla-2016-0014


The study in question focuses on the core and the peripheral senses of the English prepositions at, on and in as well as on their mappings onto Arabic. The observations and the suggestions are built on a comparison of the performance of Arabian ESL learners to Japanese and Spanish ESL learners and aim at enabling an insight into some of the language problems typically encountered by SL learners, particularly focussing on the question whether the problems are inter-lingual or intra-lingual. The data analysis is based upon the use of a repeated measures ANOVA test. Particular attention is given to the types of error produced by the participants in each language group by looking at questions such as whether the core meaning or the peripheral meaning is more difficult, which preposition is the most challenging one for the test participants, and how images might assist test participants in choosing the correct preposition. The deviation between the ESL learners’ performance when using the prepositions in question is explained in relation to cognitive semantics and second language acquisition theories. The main source of difficulties seems to be attributable to the polysemy, the idiomaticity and the diversity in the usage of these prepositions in English. Potential pedagogical benefits of the test results are discussed as well.

Keywords : prepositions; polysemy; core sense; peripheral sense; cognitive semantics; mapping; ESL learners

About the article

Published Online: 2016-12-06

Published in Print: 2016-11-01

Citation Information: Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 211–234, ISSN (Online) 2197-2796, ISSN (Print) 2197-2788, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/gcla-2016-0014.

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© 2016 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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