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Studies in Lexical Contrastive Semantics: English vis-à-vis Italian Spatial Particles
di S. Masi (Ed. 2011 Pagg. 178)
edito da Edizioni Plus - Universita' di Pisa
The work focuses on the polysemy of a range of English spatial particles, especially prepositions, in a contrastive perspective with
Italian. This area has always proved to be quite problematic in second language learning. In fact, since Brugman and Lakoff’s
ground-breaking work on the polysemy of over in the 80s, there have been increasing attempts in the cognitive linguistics literature
to provide motivated accounts of polysemy capable of translating into psychologically plausible descriptions. However, as far as spatial particles are concerned, the main trends in the actual practice of the teaching of English as a foreign language to Italians are still largely based on idiosyncratic listings of examples. Theoretically, the study hinges upon Lexical Complexity as an overarching paradigm which is explicitly applied to a cognitively realistic theory of lexical representation (Principled Polysemy Networks). In more detail, the Lexical Complexity framework allows for a contrastive account of conceptual structure where data organisation is motivated by universal parameters that are assumed to reflect the cognitive organisation of lexical systems within and across languages. Hence, while attempting to overcome the limits of a chaotic view and correlated arbitrary cross-linguistic accounts of the polysemy of particles, the study aims to predict the cognitive complexity involved in their cross-linguistic mapping and possible ensuing difficulty in learning and translation.
46) […] the chance for a quick […] victory over the Democratic leaders 46a) la possibilità di una fulminea vittoria sui/contro [against] i leader democratici31 47) Take precedence over oncoming vehicles 47a) Avere la precedenza sui veicoli provenienti dal lato opposto.
Are there ‘independent’ Victory or Precedence senses in the network for over? In Italian, cases such as (45) and (46), for example, could be explained in terms of a Superior sense. What about the network for over, though? In their discussion of the network for above, Tyler and Evans (2003: 119) in fact specify that both over and above have developed a Superior sense. However, the latter, exemplified by (48) below, is not explicitly included in their network for over:
48) William overcame his detractors’s petty comments 48a) William passò sopra i loro sciocchi commenti.
The label Superiority for (48) seems somehow misleading (especially if compared with the Superior sense for above and sopra, recall e.g. 31, ‘Non v...
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