Prepositions and Points of View

  • M. J. Cresswell
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 28)


There are many words in our language whose meaning seems to make reference to a point of view or an hypothetical observer of the scene. I have in mind particularly such words as come, go, left, right, behind and others, all of which seem to depend for their meaning on looking at things from a certain point of view. Charles Fillmore [17] has recently shown how pervasive the use of points of view is in discourse. Indeed his work makes the task of formalizing it look well-nigh impossible. The aim of this present paper is therefore very much more restricted, and in two ways. First I have in mind semantics conceived in the narrow sense of the contribution a word or expression makes to the truth conditions of sentences in which it occurs. Second I shall be restricting myself solely to the formal semantics of the points of view involved in some spatial senses of English prepositions. The kind of fact I wish to explain is how the truth conditions of a sentence like (1) Across a meadow a band is playing excerpts from H.M.S. Pinafore depend, via the meaning of across, on the point of view from which the band is being observed.


Deep Structure Syntactic Category Basic Sense Prepositional Phrase Goal Area 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Cresswell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyVictoria University of WellingtonNew Zealand

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