LINGUIST List 15.2060

Mon Jul 12 2004

Diss: Ling Theories/Semantics: Chu: 'Event...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. czchu, Event Conceptualization and Grammatical Realization...

Message 1: Event Conceptualization and Grammatical Realization...

Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 07:31:39 -0400 (EDT)
From: czchu <>
Subject: Event Conceptualization and Grammatical Realization...

Institution: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Program: East Asian Languages and Literatures
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Chengzhi Chu

Dissertation Title: Event Conceptualization and Grammatical
Realization: The Case of Motion in Mandarin Chinese
Linguistic Field: Linguistic Theories, Semantics, Typology, 
Cognitive Science, Language Acquisition 

Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin (code: CHN)
Dissertation Director 1: Ying-che Li
Dissertation Director 2: Roderick A. Jacobs
Dissertation Director 3: Robert L. Cheng
Dissertation Director 4: Tao-chung Yao
Dissertation Abstract:
Observed within a fully-specified framework developed on the basis of
Talmy's (1985/2000) 'Figure-Ground-Move-Path' formulation of motion,
the conceptualization and grammatical realization of motion in
Mandarin Chinese demonstrate a number of typologically significant
When assigning the conceptual elements Figure and Ground of motion,
Chinese exhibits a 'movability effect': The Figure role is regularly
assigned to the entity standing higher in the experience-based
'movability hierarchy', while the Ground is assigned to the entity
with the lower movability rating. The linguistic result of the
conceptual contrasts between Figure and Ground is a saliency mapping
relationship between these two conceptual elements, along with
hierarchically organized syntactic roles in Chinese.
For packaging Path and Manner of motion with Move, both the
satellite-framed pattern and the verb-framed pattern are available in
Chinese. But the two patterns exhibit differences with regard to their
construal, their communicative functions, and their applicability for
expressing different types of motion events.
Path is the defining property for motion conceptualization and
representation. The conceptual structure for Path consists of five
components: Vector, Conformation, Dimension, Direction, and
Perspective. In Chinese, Path properties can be expressed as verb
complements, prepositional phrases, and main verbs of clauses; Deictic
Perspective is normally utilized in Path conceptualization and
representation; Horizontal Path and certain Path Conformation are not
expressed with complement verbs; 'Non-Deictic + non-Deictic' Path
complement accumulation is not licensed in this language. 
Satellite-framed lexicalization, which licenses [Manner + Move]
conflation for a verb, has to observe the cross-linguistic constraint
of inseparability between the relevant Manner and Move as well as
certain language-specific limitations. The conflation constraints are
stronger for Chinese than English.
Our findings concerning motion conceptualization and representation in
Chinese clearly point to the basic tenets of cognitive linguistics,
which views language as an experientially-based product of the human
mind, and a reflection of how speakers of a language structure their
perceptions of reality. The observations and findings also afford
significant insights into motion expressions for Chinese L2 teachers
and learners, thereby facilitating both teaching and learning.
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