A cognitive perspective on the semantics of near
The present study investigates the semantic structure of the word near assuming that its distinct senses form a semantic network with a prototypical spatial sense at the center and various extended senses at different distances away from the prototype. In order to explain the extensions of near, the cognitive notions of construal, image schema transformation, metaphor and metonymy are taken into consideration. The conceptual blending theory is used to explain the semantic structure of the complex preposition near to. The research reveals that the word near functions as a preposition (also a part of the complex preposition near to), an adverb, an adjective and a verb, and that its semantic structure is best viewed as a continuum encoding both lexical and grammatical information. At the same time, the analysis shows that the polysemy of near is rather impoverished when compared to the polysemies of other spatial prepositions, such as in, on, at or over.
Keywords: cognitive linguistics, semantics, spatial prepositions
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