Why you cannot go from and från the same place: a contrastive look at the prepositions from and från

University essay from Lunds universitet/Engelska

Abstract: The purpose of this essay is to describe the way the prepositions from and från work, both semantically and syntactically. However, the focus is on the translation from from into Swedish. The question this essay aims at answering is: “is there any mutual correspondence between English and Swedish use of their respective prepositions”? The question is relevant since a large amount of the literature today claim that prepositions are idiosyncratic and that one would need to study indefatigably in order to fully learn the L2’s use of a preposition. For this essay I have used the English-Swedish Parallel Corpus (ESPC) as the source of my material and I have used the cognitive linguistic perspective as the theoretical framework. The cognitive perspective sees prepositions as conceptual and therefore it ought to be plausible to find a pattern in the way the prepositions from and från are translated. The sentences from ESPC are analysed semantically and syntactically; the relevant sentences are commented on in the essay. According to my material there are some general patterns that from conform to. For example, complex English postmodifying prepositional phrases tend to translate into Swedish relative clauses. The greatest restriction syntax had on the preposition was that it often forced the preposition in the translation to a certain preposition of another semantic field. The semantic patterns are more discernible and plenteous. There are three categories that from appear in and several subcategories. In most of these categories from can be defined and the relevant prepositions in the translations are definable as well. For example, when used in an abstract sense, from can be translated into either Swedish av or på, depending on the context. The reason why from and the Swedish prepositions cannot fully be analysed and defined is because the material from the ESPC is limited and the time spent on the essay has been confined to a relatively short period. Because of this restraint, the essay has been more of an explanatory and summarising nature. However, some results, of which some were given above, have come up and shown that preposition do not appear to be idiosyncratic. Indeed, prepositions appear to conform to certain concepts that can determine their use, both spatially and metaphorically, which depends on the contexts of the original preposition and the translation as well.

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