Cyberspatial semantics: the behaviour of prepositions in software development forums.
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In this thesis, I look at the use of two types of prepositions in forum posts on software development, because these prepositions are used `atypically'. Atypical use refers to a preposition occurring with a verb it would not typically occur with in Standard English. According to Jackendoff (1983), the prepositions examined in this thesis are used to express a bounded (goal) path (`to', `into', `onto', and `against') or to express a route (`over', `through', `via', and `across'). I attempt to answer the question to what extent spatial prepositions within the language domain of software development are used similarly to the use in Standard English. To answer this question, I have collected data from a subforum of the UNIX forum, namely the Advanced and Expert Users forum. These data were gathered using web scraping, a method to collect data throughout a website. These data were segmented, cleaned up, and filtered. A total of 1,825 sentences remained where a verb and preposition occurred together that would not occur together outside this domain. Each preposition was considered individually, in order to establish whether its use was `atypical' or not. I found that Jackendoff (1983)'s approach accounted for a great part of the data, but that there was overlap between the verbs used with `to' on the one hand, and `into' and `onto' on the other hand. Jackendoff (1983)'s approach was therefore extended by assuming that in some cases the prepositional object was underspecified, which lead the speaker to choose a more neutral preposition. This also applies to the overlap that was found for the prepositions `via' and `through'.