, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 157-232

On the Semantics of Locatives

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The present paper deals with the semantics of locative expressions. Our approach is essentially model-theoretic, using basic geometrical properties of the space-time continuum. We shall demonstrate that locatives consist of two layers: the first layer defines a location and the second a type of movement with respect to that location. The elements defining these layers, called localisersand modalisers, tend to form a unit, which is typically either an adposition or a case marker. It will be seen that this layering is not only semantically but in many languages also morphologically manifest. There are numerous languages in which the morphology is sufficiently transparent with respect to the layering. The consequences of this theory are manifold. For example, we shall show that it explains the contrast between English and Finnish concerning directionals, which is discussed in Fong (1997). In addition, we shall be concerned with the question of orientation of locatives, as discussed in Nam (1995). We propose that nondirectional locatives are oriented to the event, while directional locatives are oriented to certain arguments, called movers.