Postcolonial Prepositions: Semantics and Popular Geopolitics in the Danosphere

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This study breaks new ground into the semantics of Danish-Greenlandic relations and contributes to the development of the emerging paradigm of Postcolonial Semantics. With a case study on two Danish prepositions i and på, both of which are important for the Danish construal of Greenland, the study develops a new analysis of the conceptual semantics of these prepositions and their social life. Empirically, the study relies on evidence from social media sites in which the topic of prepositions are discussed by non-linguists, and from these observations the paper develops an account of the “folk geopolitics” they represent. The study draws on insights from research in language ideology, onomastics, ethnosyntax, and metapragmatics, and with the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) as its general framework. The study provides semantic explications for the two prepositional phrases i Grønland ‘in Greenland’ and på Grønland ‘on Greenland’ as well as scripts for wider social, cultural and political implications. It is shown that the two prepositions have come to stand for two different Danish attitudes towards Greenland, in short, the i-attitude which advances a construal of Greenland as a “nation” and the på-attitude which is emphasizing Greenland’s “Islandness”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Ethnopragmatics, Cultural Semantics and Intercultural Communication : Meaning and Culture
EditorsKerry Mullan, Bert Peeters, Lauren Sadow
Place of PublicationSingapore
Publication date2020
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-329-975-7
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Postcolonial Semantics
  • Postcolonial Language Studies
  • Ethnosyntax
  • Discourse Studies

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