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Review of  Motion, Direction and Location in Languages

Reviewer: Marcus Kracht
Book Title: Motion, Direction and Location in Languages
Book Author: Erin Shay Uwe Seibert
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Typology
Subject Language(s): Afade
Chinese, Mandarin
Arabic, Chadian
Book Announcement: 15.1455

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Date: Thu, 6 May 2004 16:22:56 -0700
From: Marcus Kracht <>
Subject: Motion, Direction and Location in Languages: In honor of Zygmunt Frajzingier

EDITOR: Shay, Erin; Seibert, Uwe
TITLE: Motion, Direction and Location in Languages
SUBTITLE: In honor of Zygmunt Frajzingier
SERIES: Typological Studies in Language
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2003

Marcus Kracht, Department of Linguistics, UCLA


This book is a collection of essays written in honour of Zygmunt
Frajzingier. The uniting theme is that of location and motion in
language. The majority of papers deal with African languages, thus
reflecting a predominant theme in Zygmunt Frajzingier's own work. The
aspects that are covered are historical, morphological, semantic,
pragmatic and syntactic. I shall first summarize the content of the
individual contributions before assessing the collection as a whole.

Zygmunt Frajzingier *April 3, 1938 (Erin Shay), pp. ix - xv. This is a
tribute to Zygmunt Frajzingier, his life andpersonality.

Zygmunt Frajzingier's contributions to the study of language structure
(Uwe Seibert), pp. 1 - 18. A complete bibliography of published books
and papers, including work in progress.

The myth of doubly governing prepositions in German (Werner Abraham),
pp. 19 - 38. It is a folklore that German local prepositions can govern
both the accusative and the dative. If the event is a motion towards
the object, accusative is used; if the event is not a motion towards
the object, dative is used. Werner Abraham challenges this view. He
adds evidence for the view that these prepositions govern only one
case, namely dative, and that this tends to be the sole case governed
by prepositions in general (this view is exposed in Abraham (1995)).

Localisation et mouvement dans le syntagme verbal du groupe tchadique
central (Veronique de Colombel), pp. 39 - 50. This paper surveys the
form and place of local and directional verbal suffixes of the central
Chadic languages. Some comparative notes are added.

Left, right, and the cardinal directions: some thoughts on consistency
and usage (Bernhard Comrie), pp. 51 - 58. This paper studies using
mainly anecdotal evidence the way in which the names of directions may
come to be associated with different meanings. For example, Comrie
notes that growing up on the east coast of England, he has become
accustomed to the fact that east was the direction of the sea, and this
caused sudden confusion when moving to California (where the coast is
west). Comrie notes that the same happens in languages, noting examples
from Celtic, Balinese or Tok Pisin.

Location and direction in Klamath (Scott DeLancey), pp. 59 - 90,
Klamath is a Penutian language of Southern Oregon. According to Scott
DeLancey, Klamath challenges the traditional assumptions on the way in
which location and directionality are coded. Rather than having
adpositions, Klamath uses a system of locative-directive stems (LDSs).
These stems occur in combination with a locative prefix (LP). The
precise status of the combination LP+LDS is a contentious issue. Barker
(1964) has analyzed LP as a verb, and the LDS as a suffix. Using
comparative and internal evidence, DeLancey shows that the LDSs are of
verbal origin. He notes, on the other hand, that they cannot act as
verbal elements on their own.

Locatives as core constituents (Gerrit Dimmendaal), pp. 91 - 109. This
contribution studies the categories of 'ventive' and 'itive' in various
African languages, and the way they are expressed. For example, in
Eastern Sudanic languages the verb has an affix expressing whether the
motion is towards the deictic centre ('ventive') or away ('itive').
These affixes are found only when the languages are verb medial. While
Cushitic languages exhibit also the dependent marking (by means of
cases), Schaefer and Gaines (1997) have established that
overwhelmingly, African languages use the head-marking strategy. The
paper completes the list, showing examples of double marking, and of
the serial verb strategy and shows how these strategies differ
syntactically, semantically and pragmatically.

'Come' and 'go' as discourse connectors in Kera and other Chadic
languages (Karen Ebert), pp. 111 - 122. This paper illustrates that the
verbs of deictic motion, 'come' and 'go' can not only grammaticalize as
aspect markers and many other semantic categories, but can also become
discourse markers. The data comes from Eastern Chadic languages.

Altrilocality in Tangale and Tuareg: a common heritage feature?
(Herrmann Jungraithmayr), pp. 123 - 128. In Tangale, a West Chadic
language, has a ventive marker. The author has earlier speculated in
his (1998) that this marker is related to similar marker in Hausa and
Mokilko, both also Chadic. Now he revises this theory in light of the
fact that Tuareg (Hamitosemitic) has markers with exactly the same
form, functioning as distance markers. It is now proposed that these
markers now go back to an old Chado-Berber layer.

Location and motion in !Xun (Namibia) (Christa Koenig and Bernd Heine),
pp. 129 - 150. The authors investigate the different syntactic role
that elements expressing location and motion can have in !Xun. The
evidence supports a theory by Heine (1992;1993) of so-called
grammaticalization chains. In a historical development, when a marker
starts with a structure A and develops into a structure B, there are
stages in the development where the status of the marker is ambiguous
in one and the same construction: it has both characteristics, and
displays an intermediate pattern AB. Koenig and Heine show that !Xun
has verb-to-comparative, verb-to-preposition and verb-to-derivation
chains involving spatial expressions.

Directionality and displaced directionality in Toqabaqita (Frantisek
Lichtenberk), pp. 151 - 175. Toqabaqita is an Austronesian language
spoken on the Solomon Islands. It has a ventive and an andative (=
itive) marker (for movement away from the deictic centre). The paper
surveys the uses of this marker. In addition to the patterns that Talmy
(2000) and Goldberg (1995) describe, there is a distinct pattern in
that language, which the author terms 'displaced'. This describes the
usage of the markers when the motion occurs in an event that is just
associated with the main event, as in 'I counted the bus stops on the
way there.', where the andative would be used to encode the meaning 'on
the way there'.

Motion, direction and spatial configuration: a lexical semantic study
of 'hang' verbs in Mandarin (Mei-chun Liu), pp. 177 - 187. This paper
investigates the difference between three verbs of Chinese which all
denote 'hang'. While they often appear to be interchangeable, their
distribution in specific contexts is different. The difference are
explained in terms of the differences in image schema: 'gua', the most
frequent word, requires contact between figure and ground and ground
support; 'xuan' requires neither contact nor ground support, while
'diao' requires a trajectory from figure to ground (a string, for

Coding location, motion and direction in Old Babylonian Akkadian
(Adrian Macelaru), pp. 189 - 210. This paper surveys the means of
expressing spatial notions in Old Babylonian Akkadian. It appears that
among cases and spatial prepositions, it also has a ventive marker on
the verb. It also encodes by means of suffixation the difference
between motion and locomotion. Moreover, it is a satellite framed
language in the sense of Talmy.

Motion events in Chantyal (Michael Noonan), pp. 211 - 234. The author
reviews the classification of languages into verb-framed (V-framed) and
satellite-framed (S-framed) languages, based on Talmy (1985) and
subsequent work, as well as work by Slobin, who studied the differences
in narratives between V- and S-framed languages. Chantyal is a Sino-
Tibetan language spoken in Nepal. By definition, Chantyal is a V-framed
language because the framing event is expressed on the verb; event
descriptions require the supporting event to be subordinated, manner
verbs generally do not express motion. However, Chantyal is also
atypical in various ways. One is the small number of path-verbs, the
extensive use of satellites expressing path, and the elaboration in
narratives seems to follow more that of typical S-framed languages.

Locative prepositions in Chadic: lexical or grammatical morphemes (Nina
Pawlak), pp. 235 - 254. This paper studies the morphology of locative
expressions in Chadic languages. The author shows that in these
languages, the same preposition can be governed by the verb and
therefore be void of content, yet in another construction it may appear
with real content. It is often assumed that this state of affairs is an
intermediate stage in a unidirectional process that leads from a
lexical item with semantic content to a grammatical marker. One of the
novel insights of this paper is to provide evidence for a converse
process, where a grammatical marker assumes new semantic meaning

Two Lakhota locatives and the role of introspection in linguistic
analysis (David Rood), pp.255 - 258. The paper reports about two
locative prepositions in Lakhota which have absolutely identical
distribution and serve as general purpose location markers. It has been
suggested in earlier work mainly on the basis of distributional
arguments and existing glosses of texts that the two are simply
synonymous. The author used the method of introspection, asking Lakhota
speakers what they think the difference is between the two. It turns
out that the difference is that of the vantage point from which the
event is witnessed. The interchangeability of the two is the result of
the great flexibility of choosing different vantage points in a

Directional verbs in Japanese (Masayoshi Shibatani), pp. 259 -
286,gives a rather detailed overview over verbs of direction
(come/go/give)in Japanese. Shibatani shows that they can mean different
things,depending on the syntactic environment. They work either as
converbs to license a goal or source locative, but in connection with
an undirected motion event they form a dvandva compound, like English
"go+V" constructions. Finally, Japanese 'kuru' (come) serves as an
inverse marker. Finally, Japanese has two verbs of giving: 'yaru' (give
to others) and 'kureru' (give to me), which as converbs serve to
license beneficiaries. In all cases, the orientation of these verbs
functions according to the person hierarchy (1 > 2 > 3).

L'encodage de la localisation, de la direction et du mouvement dans les
langues "kotoko" du Cameroun (Henry Tourneux), pp. 287 - 297, is a
sketch of the morphology and syntax of locative expressions in a group
of languages spoken in Cameroon.


The entire book presents a balanced, up-to-date view on an important
topic in linguistics. After the appearance of two books covering the
Austronesian and Polynesian languages (Senft (1997) and Bennardo
(2002)), it presents important data from languages of other parts of
the world, mainly Africa. There is a certain lack of theoretical
linguistics discussion, with the exception of the paper by Abraham.
This paper however in my view fails to argue conclusively that the
folklore view that it attacks is wrong. Rather, all it does is show how
things would have to be like if his own theory was right. The data he
adduces are quite in line with the folklore; what we see is that there
are additional complications arising from binding with the prefixes
'her' and 'hin'.

The lack of theoretical discussion is, however, nothing that should be
held against this book. Outside of cognitive linguistics not much work
has been done concerning space and language. While I am not suggesting
here that cognitive linguistic is less theoretical than, say, syntax, I
have to say that there is something of a peaceful coexistence between
the two major paradigms, the cognitive and the (largely self-declared)
theoretical linguistics, to which I count here generative grammar of
all persuasions and model-theoretic semantics. Until the latter devotes
more attention to the language of space, the best the working linguist
can do is turn to cognitive linguistics. As a whole, I have found the
discussions concerning various claims concerning the structure of
language the most revealing (DeLancey, Dimmendaal, Noonan, Shibatani).
I lack the competence to evaluate the historical papers and the
language surveys. Some papers (Koenig & Heine and Pawlak) are
interesting for the data they adduce. The theoretical claims they wish
to bolster seem to me to be almost trivial. Transitions in language are
not abrupt, and we should expect structural ambivalence to be the norm,
not the exception. Moreover, although languages may display a general
trend towards some structure, we should find regressive trends locally.
Where there is grammaticalization, there is bound to be
degrammaticalization. I admit that most theories of linguistics have no
room for transition, and system and change seem to be impossible to
integrate, something that has been a concern ever since the inception
of structuralism, most prominently to de Saussure himself.

Be this as it may, I find the collection successful in what it wants to
do: pay tribute to a man's work through a collection of essays by
friends and colleagues who share a common interest. As one who shares
this interest, I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and will recommend it to
anyone else.


Abraham, Werner (1995) Deutsche Syntax im Sprachenvergleich.
Grundlegung einer typologischen Syntax des Deutschen.
Gunter Narr Verlag.

Barker, M. A. K. (1964) Klamath Grammar. University of California
Publications in Linguistics 32. University of California Press.

Bennardo, Giovanni (ed.) (2002) Representing Space in Oceania.
Culture in Language and Mind. Pacific Linguistics.

Goldberg, Adele E. (1995) Constructions: A Construction Grammar
Approach to Argument Structure. University of Chicago Press.

Heine, Bernd (1992) Grammaticalization Chains. Studies in Language
16(2), pp. 335-368.

Heine, Bernd (1993) Auxiliaries: Cognitive forces and
grammaticalization. Oxford University Press.

Jungraithmayr, Herrmann (1998) The ventive/allative dichotomy in some
West African languages. Language and Location in Space and Time,
ed. by P. Zima and P. Tax, pp. 85-91, Lincom EUROPA.

Schaefer, Ronald P. and Gaines, Richard (1997) Towards a typology of
directional motion for African languages. Studies in African
Linguistics 26(2), pp. 193-220.

Senft, Gunter (ed.) (1997) Referring to Space: Studies in Austronesian
and Papuan Languages. Oxford University Press.

Talmy, Leonard (1985) Lexicalization patterns: semantic structure in
lexical form. Language Typology and syntactic description, Vol. 3,
ed. by Timothy Shopen, pp. 36 - 149, Cambridge University Press.

Talmy, Leonard (2000) Toward a Cognitive Semantics. vols. 1 & 2. MIT

Marcus Kracht is an assistant professor of computational linguistics,
UCLA. Trained as a mathematician, he developed an interest in
languages and linguistics at an early stage of his university career.
His interests are mainly in modal logic, formal semantics and formal
language theory, and foundations of theoretical linguistics. He is
interested in particular in the semantics of locatives, in particular
in Indo-European and Uralic languages.