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Representing Direction in Language and Space$
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Emile van der Zee and Jon Slack

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199260195

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199260195.001.0001

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How Finnish Postpositions See the Axis System

How Finnish Postpositions See the Axis System

(p.191) 10 How Finnish Postpositions See the Axis System
Representing Direction in Language and Space


Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the axis system lexicalized in the semantics of Finnish postpositions. There are two kinds of postposition in Finnish meaning ‘in front of’ and ‘behind’: these postpositions indicate that both the Figure and the reference object are moving or are neutral with respect to motion. It is also shown that the Finnish prepositions meaning ‘in front of’ and ‘behind’ do not only refer to horizontal spatial relations, but any one-dimensional relation. Those postpositions that mean ‘beside’ refer to two-dimensional relations. However, the postpositions that mean ‘above’ and ‘below’ can only refer to vertical relations. The dimensional system and the orientation of the axes (horizontal, vertical, side-to-side) are dependent on each other and should be described as parts of the same system, at least when it comes to the semantics of Finnish postpositions.

Keywords:   Finnish language, postpositions, axis system, semantics, prepositions, motion, spatial relations, direction, axis

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