13. Spatial prepositions in Italian L2

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Space is a core domain of human cognition. However, the linguistic variation in encoding spatial reference is immense. In our chapter we address the currently debated issue of the existence of universal conceptual categories and principles by investigating one of the most idiosyncratic linguistic category: adpositions, namely spatial prepositions in Italian L2. Our empirical data reveals that learners of Italian L2 develop a consistent microsystem of spatial prepositions, which is built mostly on the target language and only to a limited extent on the learners’ L1 system. The process of acquisition appears to be driven by universal principles, both cognitive and linguistic, but at the same time it is also affected by specific constraints of language as a formal system.


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