A monosemic view of polysemic prepositions

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Prepositions are notorious for being “polysemic”. One of Zipf ’s laws is that the smaller a form, the more frequently it will be used, and the more meanings and functions it will have attributed to it. The Hebrew preposition <i>l- </i>‘to’ has at least seventeen dictionary entries and the Hebrew preposition <i>b- </i>‘in’ has at least fifteen and some of these dictionary meanings overlap. In this paper, I will view both of these prepositions as linguistic signs (in the Saussurean sense) and present a <i>signifié </i>or a single invariant or core meaning for each that will account for all of its messages and uses as well as explain the differences between them.


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