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Title: A lexical-semantic analysis of the English prepositions 'at', 'on' and 'in' and their conceptual mapping onto Arabic : a comparative investigation
Author: Almuoseb, Anwar
ISNI:       0000 0004 6060 9360
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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This study examines the semantic factors that determine the choice of the English spatial prepositions at, on and in within a cognitive semantic framework and accounts, as proposed by Herskovits (1986), Lindstromberg (1998, 2010), Talmy (2000), Tyler and Evans (2003), and Coventry and Garrod (2004). A semantic multiple-choice test was conducted to examine the performance of 54 ESL learners (32 Arabs, 11 Spanish, 11 Japanese). This test consisted of 59 items, in which central and peripheral prepositional meanings were included and were presented, with or without images. A repeated measure ANOVA test was used to analyse the findings for the semantic test. The semantic test findings revealed that: (1) The deviation of the performance of Arab ESL learners when using these prepositions could not only be explained by L1 interference patterns (Arabic) into L2 language (English), but (2) mastering them requires those ESL learners to have a high level of proficiency. (3) The peripheral meaning of prepositions posed a significant challenge to the participants in the test, especially during the trials for 'at'. (4) The polysemous nature of English prepositions significantly impedes the progress of Arab ESL learners in acquiring native-like intuition. The outcomes of this comparative investigation offer a number of potential pedagogical benefits. The study highlights the non-equivalence between the prepositional systems in English and other languages, such as Arabic, which is defined by semantic considerations. It is possible for ESL learners to map the spatial relations expressed by these English prepositions (coincidence, support and containment) onto other conceptual relations. The identification of a one to one equivalent would not be considered the cause of the learning difficulty but rather, the manner through which the speakers of these languages conceptualise and categorise spatial relations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral