Edited by Michel Aurnague, Maya Hickmann † and Laure Vieu
[Human Cognitive Processing 20] 2007
► pp. 53–69
On the spatial meaning of contre in French
The role of entities and force dynamics
In its spatial use, the preposition contre (‘against’) applies to nouns that denote entities of the physical world, the notions of “tension” and “force and counterforce” proving to be central. We show that the degrees of intensity expressed by contre depend on: (1) the nature of the “figure” and “ground” and their role as “agonist” (focal force entity) or “antagonist” (opposed force entity); (2) the nature of the force itself (static or dynamic). On the basis of these factors, three schemata are presented, according to the origin of force exertion: in the figure, in the ground or in both sides. But in situations where visual effects play a decisive role, the tension carried out by “force and counterforce” disappears to adapt contre to mere proximity or contrast.
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