The Interpretation of Spatial ‘At’:An Experimental Study

Year
2013
Volume 14
Issue 1
Pages
47-76
Authors
Francesco-Alessio Ursini & Nobuaki Akagi
Abstract
This paper presents an experimental study on the interpretation of the spatial preposition at in adult speakers, based on a variant of the Truth Value Judgment Task. It is shown that speakers can interpret at as denoting a spatial relation that stands in the “lexical entailment” relation with other spatial prepositions (e.g. inside, in front of, on top of, behind). For instance, if multiple located entities are involved in this relation, then they may occupy locations that can be “internal”, “external”, or placed on different verses of the same direction, e.g. in front or behind a certain landmark object. It is discussed which semantic hypothesis correctly predicts these findings, and what the implications could be, for a theory of spatial prepositions and their Semantics.

Key words: Spatial prepositions, Semantics, Sentence Processing, Truth Value Judgment Task