chapter  9
13 Pages

Schematization

Almost every study of spatial prepositions mentions schematization (though it may not use this exact term). Here is Talmy’s (1983) characterization of schematization: “a process that involves the systematic selection of certain aspects of a referent scene to represent the whole, disregarding the remaining aspects” (p. 225). Here is a citation from my own work (Herskovits, 1986): “[T]here is a fundamental or canonical view of the world, which in everyday life is taken as the world as it is. But language does not directly reflect that view. Idealizations, approximations, conceptualizations, mediate between this canonical view and language” (p. 2). Systematic selection, idealization, approximation, and conceptualization are facets of schematization, a process that reduces a real physical scene, with all its richness of detail, to a very sparse and sketchy semantic content. For expressions such as “The village is on the road to London.” this reduction is often said to involve applying some abstract spatial relation to simple geometric objects: points, lines, surfaces, or blobs.