Experimental Entailments: The Case of Spatial Prepositions

Francesco-Alessio Ursini


In this paper we present an experimental study on native speakers’ access to lexical relations among spatial relations. Our main focus is a still poorly understood domain: the lexical relations that hold between (pairs of) directional spatial prepositions (from, to) and locative prepositions (at). Two broad families of proposals exist in the literature. One family suggests that the members of these two classes of prepositions are connected via the entailment relation. Another family suggests that the overlap relation connects directional and locative prepositions. These two proposals differ with respect to the predictions they make on how speakers can accept and logically connect sentences that include such pairs of prepositions. We offer an experimental study, based on a variant of the Truth-Value Judgment Task, which aims to adjudicate which family of proposals makes the correct predictions. Then, we discuss the theoretical import of the results.


Spatial Prepositions; Entailment; Experimental Semantics; Lexical relations; Truth Value Judgement Task

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