UDC 81'25(07)


Kochkinekova Alena Vasilievna
Altai State Pedagogical University
Ph.D (in Linguistics), Department of Foreign Languages

This study addresses research issues concerning the use of the prepositions in and on by native and non-native speakers of English. Based on the analysis of the prepositions used in the sphere of art, this article demonstrates how our perception determines the use of this or that preposition. The description of the preposition semantics in the context of object perception contributes to the creation of an authentic presentation of information. The majority of non-native speakers have a tendency to make mistakes while using prepositions with such English words as picture, painting, canvas, photograph, etc., showing little or no sensitivity to the peculiarities of space perception in English. The study concluded that English is characterized by stereoscopic perception, while surface perception is much more common in the Russian language.

Keywords: locative, preposition, stereoscopic perception, surface perception, three-dimensional preposition, two-dimensional preposition

Article reference:
Kochkinekova A.V. The peculiarities of the prepositions used in the sphere of art // Philology and literature. 2015. № 5 [Electronic journal]. URL: https://philology.snauka.ru/en/2015/05/1419

View this article in Russian

English is an analytical language, prepositions play a large role in its structure and are the cause of many difficulties to the learners of English. As Modern English lost almost all case forms in the course of historical processes, prepositions substitute the lost case endings. They, metaphorically speaking, “imbibed” practically all case endings functions.

Prepositions became a most important means of indicating the various relations of nouns (or pronouns) to the other words in the sentence. The purpose of a preposition is to connect a noun (or a noun substitute) to some other element of the sentence, along with some meaning that is incoherent in the preposition itself. They express such ideas as location, destination, direction of motion, time, manner, etc.

A preposition as a rule is always followed by a noun construction, and they together make a phrase. These prepositional phrases usually function like adjectives or adverbs; that is they modify nouns, verbs, or some other elements in the sentence [1, 2].

When we speak about art in English, we can have some difficulties using the prepositions ‘in’ and ‘on’ with the names of the picture, photograph (photo), painting, canvas, etc. Here we come across a very interesting phenomenon that is the peculiarity of world perception (“in the picture” – “на картине”).

In a more general meaning (sense), perception can be defined as the reflection of world subjects and events in their entirety in the person’s psyche during their direct impact on sensibility organs [3].

The use of different prepositions can be explained by the differences in the world perception of native English and Russian  speakers. Thus, native English  speakers possess a stereoscopic perception, which is carried into the language as well. In other words, many objects are perceived in 3D: in the skyin the facein the tree, etc.

The preposition “in” is applied to three-dimensional locations and it is used with such names as “picture”, “photograph”, and “painting” when we describe the location of objects  in them:

An Italian woman is depicted in the picture.

The girl in the photograph is my sister.

The Figure 1 demonstrates the peculiarities of 3-D perception.

 Figure 1. 3-D perception

Figure 1. 3-D perception.

 For Russian native speakers, surface perception is much more common, and this is also reflected in the language:

На картине изображена итальянка.

Девушка на фотографии – моя сестра.

This kind of perception is presented in the following Figure 2:

Figure 2. 2-D perception.

Figure 2. 2-D perception.

 It should be taken into consideration that the dimension-type of a preposition is the dimensional property ascribed, subjectively speaking, to the location denoted by the prepositional complement. This distinction involving dimension-types is psychological or perceptual, rather than “real”.

A picture can be also perceived as a surface in English. It takes place when the location of such objects as “dust” is described. As a rule, the preposition ‘on’ is used in such situations: “dust on the picture”.

With the name “canvas”, it is quite common and grammatically correct to use a two-dimensional preposition “on”:

There is a waterlilly pond on the canvas.

Summarizing all the written above, I should stress that stereoscopic perception is characteristic to the English language while surface perception is much more typical of Russian. Students learning English language should take into consideration all the above-mentioned peculiarities of the world perception and while describing pictures should differentiate between three-dimensional and two-dimensional prepositions.

  1. Аксененко, Б.Н. Предлоги английского языка [Текст] / Б.Н. Аксененко.– М., 1956. – 319 с.
  2. Кочкинекова, А.В. Синтез дуалистичной природы человека в зеркале предлога about [Текст] / А. В. Кочкинекова // Вестн. Орловск. гос. ун. – 2012. – № 2 (22) – С. 348-352.
  3. Психология : учеб. для пед.вузов / под ред. Б.А. Сосновского. – 2-е издание., перераб. – М.: Изд-во Юрайт ; ИД Юрайт, 2011. – 798 с.

All articles of author «eng_french»

© If you have found a violation of copyrights please notify us immediately by e-mail or feedback form.

Contact author (comments/reviews)

Write comment

You must authorise to write a comment.

Если Вы еще не зарегистрированы на сайте, то Вам необходимо зарегистрироваться: