Multiple influences on the use of english spatial prepositions: The case of "in" and "on"

Michele I. Feist, Dedre Gentner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


What do people know when they know a word? Previous accounts of the semantics of spatial locatives suggest that spatial meaning is based on both geometric and extra-geometric aspects of spatial scenes. However, attempts to explicitly delineate different sources of extra-geometric influences are still comparatively rare; even more rare are attempts to combine these different sources so as to examine their interactions. This chapter presents four studies examining the ways in which three classes of attributes - geometric, functional, and qualitative physical - influence speakers' uses of the English spatial prepositions in and on. The experiments show that all three kinds of factors play roles in English speakers' choice between these prepositions. The chapter concludes that the semantics of spatial locatives must take into account a complex set of interacting factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCross-Disciplinary Advances in Applied Natural Language Processing
Subtitle of host publicationIssues and Approaches
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781613504475
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


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