Contextual, Functional, and Geometric Components in the Semantics of Projective Terms
The projective terms of a natural language can differ regarding their syntactic properties, their dependence on reference systems, and their contextual dependency regarding objects or regions of comparison. While the dependence of projective prepositions on reference systems has been considered in linguistics and psycholinguistics in detail, the other aspects are less well studied. This chapter focuses on a collection of German projective terms including prepositions, postpositions, adverbs, and adjectives. The chapter identifies similarities between different items and maps them to common semantic components or syntactic regularities. The semantics of the lexemes combine geometric components representing spatial aspects and functional components representing the principal directions on the basis of a reference system. The influence of the context on the interpretation of projective terms is mapped to the distinction between variables belonging to the argument structure of the lexemes and free variables occurring in the semantic form. The description of the semantics of the German terms in this framework shows that the similarities and variations between the lexemes can be modeled by combining a small set of semantic components in different ways.
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