Volume 53, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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The Dutch preposition door can be translated with through (typically in adverbial clauses of time/place) or by (typically as a marker for the passive agent and the causee). The choice between these two seems at first sight not to be very difficult for Dutch learners of English. This should come as no surprise if we assume — along with more traditional semantic descriptions of door — that there are two homonymous door's. However, we would like to propose that there is only one, polysemous door. After briefly looking at theoretical evidence from cognitive semantics for this proposal, we discuss experimental evidence from learners' translations of door. The results of the experiment show that the translation of door is not as easy as could have been expected. Indeed, when learners translate door as if there were two door's, they run into interesting difficulties. This seems to suggest that (1) learners would benefit from treating door as one, polysemous word and (2) that (theories of) (foreign) language learning and teaching could benefit from cognitive semantic insights.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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