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Academic Paper

Title: The typology of motion expressions revisited
Author: John Beavers
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Texas at Austin
Author: Beth Levin
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Institution: Stanford University
Author: Shiao Wei Tham
Institution: Wellesley College
Linguistic Field: Typology
Abstract: This paper provides a new perspective on the options available to languages for encoding directed motion events. Talmy () introduces an influential two-way typology, proposing that languages adopt either verb- or satellite-framed encoding of motion events. This typology is augmented by Slobin () and Zlatev & Yangklang () with a third class of equipollently-framed languages. We propose that the observed options can instead be attributed to: (i) the motion-independent morphological, lexical, and syntactic resources languages make available for encoding manner and path of motion, (ii) the role of the verb as the single clause-obligatory lexical category that can encode either manner or path, and (iii) extra-grammatical factors that yield preferences for certain options. Our approach accommodates the growing recognition that most languages straddle more than one of the previously proposed typological categories: a language may show both verb- and satellite-framed patterns, or if it allows equipollent-framing, even all three patterns. We further show that even purported verb-framed languages may not only allow but actually prefer satellite-framed patterns when appropriate contextual support is available, a situation unexpected if a two- or three-way typology is assumed. Finally, we explain the appeal of previously proposed two- and three-way typologies: they capture the encoding options predicted to be preferred once certain external factors are recognized, including complexity of expression and biases in lexical inventories.


This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 46, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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