Talk: On In and On
Geometric relations and force dynamics
This research concerns geometric and force-dynamic accounts of the semantics of in and on. I argue force dynamics are needed to define on but not in. Recent literature has defined in and on in terms of force dynamics in addition to geometric relations (Zwarts 2010, Gardenfors 2014, etc.). Under this framework, in is defined either in terms of control (where the Figure moves with the Ground) or in terms of both control and spatial containment. Similarly, on is defined in terms of both contiguity and support. I consider force dynamics unnecessary to a central definition of in, and I show that situations previously explained in terms of force can be accounted for with a purely geometric definition (see (1)). This proposal departs from the trend of recent literature and argues that the earlier account of Herskovits (1986) is the better approach. In contrast to in, I argue that force dynamics are needed for a definition of on (see (2)). Nevertheless, support cannot account for all uses of on (see (3)). In such cases, on can be defined in terms of contiguity. These observations are in line with Herskovits (1986).
Description of Pictures
(1): The apple is in the bowl. This relation can be explained in terms of transitive spatial containment and does not require control.
(2): Book A is on the table. Book A is supported by the table, therefore it is on the table.
(3): The house on the street. The house is not supported by the street, but it is contiguous with the street.