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LINGUIST List 19.56

Tue Jan 08 2008

Diss: Ling Theories/Morphology/Psycholing: Parsafar: 'Spatial Prepo...'

Editor for this issue: Luiza Newlin Lukowicz <luizalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Parviz Parsafar, Spatial Prepositions in Modern Persian

Message 1: Spatial Prepositions in Modern Persian
Date: 03-Jan-2008
From: Parviz Parsafar <porsafargmail.com>
Subject: Spatial Prepositions in Modern Persian
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Institution: Yale University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 1996

Author: Parviz Parsafar

Dissertation Title: Spatial Prepositions in Modern Persian

Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories

Subject Language(s): Farsi, Western (pes)
                            Farsi, Eastern (prs)

Dissertation Director:
Laurence R. Horn
Stanley Insler
Gernot L. Windfuhr

Dissertation Abstract:

The main focus of this thesis on spatial prepositions in contemporary
standard colloquial Persian, but it may just as well be regarded as a study
of the prepositional system since its scope extends well beyond the spatial
domain. The analysis obtains observational and descriptive adequacy in
scrupulously reflecting the linguistic knowledge of the Farsi speakers and
provides a psychological view of the way the language user's mind produces
and processes prepositions and prepositional phrases.

Generative grammar, particularly its Extended Standard Theory, provides the
major theoretical framework upon which the present work is based. However,
it also draws heavily on the findings of logical, geometric, cognitive,
functional, and Space Grammar approaches to prepositions.

The thesis consists of three chapters. Chapter one deals with the syntax,
morphology, and semantics of the ubiquitous ezafe. It shows that ezafe,
whose host is always a [+N] constituent, is phonologically an enclitic
morpheme, syntactically an associative marker, and semantically void of any

Chapter two explores the identity of prepositions. It questions the
empirical and functional validity of the existing definitions and shows
them to be inadequate and/or suffering from circularity. The bulk of such
vagueness lies in the functional similarities between prepositions and

The contrasts between verbs and prepositions and between verbs and
conjunctions demonstrates a closer functional affinity between the former
than the latter two. A salient property is that a preposition is a category
that may take an object, but is not a verb. Finally a criteria definition
for prepositions is presented.

Chapter three is an extensive analysis of the semantics of prepositions.
After discussing the issues of polysemy, homonymy, ambiguity, and
non-specificity, it offers a survey of prepositions and justifies dividing
them into two distinct groups: true prepositions (TPs) and
pseudo-prepositions (SPs). The chapter examines the semantics of five
simple spatial TPs and thirty six simple spatial SPs.

This study of prepositional semantics has three significant
characteristics: it makes a distinction between the uses and senses of each
polysemous preposition. It precludes the proliferation of senses by
collapsing those which express a unified concept into more abstract
superschemas. And it demonstrates that logical and geometric analyses
cannot accurately describe spatial expressions unless they are accompanied
by functional descriptions stemming from the speakers' knowledge of the world.

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