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LINGUIST List 17.845

Mon Mar 20 2006

Diss: Semantics: Johansson: 'Surfer sur Internet...'

Editor for this issue: Meredith Valant <meredithlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Conrad Johansson, Surfer sur Internet

Message 1: Surfer sur Internet
Date: 20-Mar-2006
From: Conrad Johansson <conrad.johanssonmoderna.uu.se>
Subject: Surfer sur Internet

Institution: Uppsala University
Program: Department for modern languages
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Conrad Johansson

Dissertation Title: Surfer sur Internet

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Dissertation Director:
Kerstin Jonasson
Bernard Laks

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation deals with fictive motion of Internet users on the Web, and especially with the French expression surfer sur Internet, i.e. to surf on the Internet. It also contains a crosslinguistic study of corresponding expressions in Swedish, German, Dutch and Russian.

The main thesis is that the use of verbs and prepositions is not arbitrary but that they are used in order to trigger a specific conceptualization that reflects the way we understand the user interaction with the Internet. The dissertation aims at understanding the constraints and possibilities in describing fictive motion. The theoretical framework is cognitive semantics and especially the theories of conceptual integration and conceptual metaphor.

The corpus consists of 10 million words from the French newsweekly Le Nouvel Observateur. In addition to this corpus, the Internet itself has been used as an auxiliary corpus in order to study the frequency of prepositions after various verbs in the construction [V + Prep. + Internet]. This in order to support assumptions on constraints in the use of prepositions after certain verbs in such phrases.

It is proposed in this study that preposition and complement, such as sur Internet (on the Internet) and par Internet (through the Internet) can constitute a semantic unit that indicates how the Internet is conceptualized. In the first case, the Internet is conceptualized as a surface where objects, people and activities are localized and in the second case as an object through which an object is in transit.

The study shows that even though the user can be described as moving on the Internet, s/he can not be described with combinations of verbs and prepositions that describe him/her as appearing on the other side of the Internet.

The study also shows that the theory of conceptual integration works well with, and can be supported by, an empiric methodology.

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