Molly Manning


The image schema model proposes that basic sensory-motor concepts are the prelinguistic building blocks upon which more abstract concepts are grown. Spatial particles such as prepositions encode basic information linked to embodied human experience and tend to be highly polysemous, existing in both basic and abstract domains of experience. They are therefore useful for studying the schematic properties of language across different conceptual domains, and for understanding how abstract concepts are grounded in basic experiential knowledge. In this paper we demonstrate the usefulness of an image schema approach to the analysis of Irish prepositions, illustrating how the radial structure organisation of polysemous meaning senses schematically links basic perceptual concepts with non-perceptual abstract concepts. We thus argue that the image schema model illustrates the fundamental grounding of language in sensory-motor concepts, and how our understanding of abstract concepts is possible only as a result of the embodied nature of the human mind.

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