Publication details

Use of Parallel Texts as a New Approach to Spatial Cognition : The Case of English and Czech

Authors

HONCOVÁ Magdaléna LU Wei-lun

Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Description Prepositions have been a well-investigated area in cognitive linguistics, with already quite a number of studies addressing the conceptual or constructional aspect of their use. (Lakoff 1987, Tyler and Evans 2003, among others) However, most of these studies are based on either intuition or (a comparison of) mono-lingual corpora at the best, so the issue of how speakers of different languages verbalize their understanding of space in the same usage event remains under-explored. In view of this gap, we propose to look at the English down and its Czech counterparts by using the first chapter of Alice in Wonderland and its four Czech translations as our research material. One of our most striking findings is how differently the two languages distinguish between static or dynamic terms, (Dušková 2006), i.e. whether the trajector in a conceptual scene is stationary or in motion. While English uses down to code both static and dynamic relations, in Czech we observe a functional split between s (literally 'from'), po (literally 'on') in dynamic terms, and v (literally 'in') in static terms. Moreover, a deeper look into the parallel texts uncovers discrepancies in the above static/dynamic distinction in English and Czech: What is perceived as dynamic in English is, in some cases, expressed by static preposition in Czech. We observe that in Czech, a spatial relationship may be realized by constructions at the morphological level (inflections in particular), which serves the semantic function of a preposition. Use of a preposition in such case would be redundant or even ungrammatical. English, on the other hand, does not take advantage of similar constructional means for verbalizing a spatial relationship.
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