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Topic-Marking Prepositions in Spanish: Contrasting Corpus and Questionnaire Data in the Analysis of Prepositional Synonymy

Kapitel i bok
Författare Anton Granvik
Publicerad i Empirical Approaches to Cognitive Linguistics / edited by Milla Luodonpää-Manni, Esa Penttilä, Johanna Viimaranta
Sidor 215-260
ISBN 978-1-4438-7325-3
Förlag Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Förlagsort Newcastle upon Tyne
Publiceringsår 2017
Publicerad vid Institutionen för språk och litteraturer
Sidor 215-260
Språk en
Ämnesord Spanish, topic-marking prepositions, synonymy, multifactorial analysis, corpus linguistics, questionnaires, converging evidence.
Ämneskategorier Spanska språket, Lingvistik


This paper focuses on the Spanish prepositions "de", "sobre", "acerca de" and "en torno a", which are all used to express the subject or topic of a conversation or what we are thinking about. When used to express the topic-marking relation between a head element and the prepositional complement, as in "una discusión de/sobre/acerca de/en torno a política" ‘a discussion about politics’, the four prepositions all express the same meaning and can thus be considered synonymous. Since meaning is always contextual, however, and considering that most linguists accept that absolute synonymy does not exist, the aim of the study is to find out to what degree these prepositions can be differentiated in terms of usage. Approaching the issue of synonymy in terms of interchangeability in context, I investigate the usage contexts of the four prepositions by means of multifactorial analysis of corpus data combined with questionnaires in order to look for converging evidence. The results show that of the four prepositions only "de" and "en torno a" present distinct usage profiles, whereas "sobre" and "acerca de" are often interchangeable both with each other and with "de" and "en torno a". The four prepositions thus constitute a structured group of synonyms presenting distinct usage profiles on the one hand, while being clearly interchangeable in many contexts without any significant change in meaning, on the other.

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