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Motion by Daniela Neeven Of special interest for linguists and cognitive psychologists One of the most basic human concepts All languages supposed to have.

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Presentation on theme: "Motion by Daniela Neeven Of special interest for linguists and cognitive psychologists One of the most basic human concepts All languages supposed to have."— Presentation transcript:

1 Motion by Daniela Neeven Of special interest for linguists and cognitive psychologists One of the most basic human concepts All languages supposed to have ways of talking about motion and ways of describing different kinds of motion

2 Psychologists: motion verbs = most characteristically verbal of all the verbs, purest and most prototypical of verbs Extension of view: LOCALISM Hypothesis: motion provides cognitive framework for more abstract domains of meaning (possession, communication, transformation) Evidence: English `motional´ prepositions to and from are used in these domains

3 Going deeper into the semantics of motion  good reason: fascinating differences in how different languages go about describing motion E.g.: not all have equivalents for words as simple as come and go

4 Pre-modern approaches to space and motion Even concerned with in ancient times Example: Zeno of Elea Paradox of the flying arrow Idea: motion is a continuous change of location  different location at every moment of flight PROBLEM If so, means at rest at every moment  When does it move?

5 Reply by Aristotle time not composed of `nows´ (moments) true at a moment ≠ true over period duration necessary attribute of motion  Many theories and approaches to terminology  essential: motion = change of place

6 Modern treatments Talmy (1985) 4 basic components of `motion event´ FIGURE:object moving or located with respect to reference-object GROUND:reference-object PATH:course followed or site occupied by figure MOTION:presence in event of motion (move) or location (be)

7 If motion involved, 2 kinds of GROUND SOURCE:origin point GOAL:destination point EXAMPLE: Max travelled from Sydney to Melbourne figure source goal via Canberra. path

8 WE APPROACHED THE VILLAGE. figure goal Goal not always indicated by prepositon or morphological marking  can be implied by meaning of verb approach (transitive) requires grammatical object indicating goal Similar: leave requires source

9 In English, path component indicated by prepositional phrase or adverb over, along Some verbs already include specification about path verbs enter and return imply same kinds of path as composite expressions go in and go back  LEXICAL CONFLATION

10 MOTION EVENT also manner and cause Many English motion verbs encode manner (way motion is carried out) E.g.: I walked/ran/rushed down the stairs.

11 Jackendoff Included many of Talmy´s ideas in his treatment of motion go and be = basic conceptual functions The bird went from the ground to the tree.  The bird is in the tree. A be-sentence expresses the end-state of a go-sentence  LOCALISM

12 Formalism for encoding concepts of spatial location and motion can be generalised to other semantic fields Many verbs and prepositions in two or more s.f. The inheritance went to Phillip. The money is Phillip´s. possession The lights went from green to red. The light is red. ascription of properties

13 GO and BE as designating abstract meanings  not tied to their motional and locational uses considers motion verbs which DO NOT imply path intransitive actions wiggle, dance, spin, wave

14 NSM treatment of space and motion Includes even more elements, e.g. time More elaborate than other approaches All in all: X moved from A to B = X moved for some time before this X was somewhere (place A) after this X was somewhere else (place B)

15 Necessary: period of duration Not necessary: clear definition of point of origin and destination X is moving towards A = X is moving if it moves in the same way for some time it will be near A  concept of nearness, not of arrival

16 Coming or going? COME= `motion-towards-speaker´ GO = `motion-away-from-speaker´  Not that simple!

17 GO GO polysemous Confine to motional sense  exclude use of participial adjective gone, because can apply to anything living or non-living without implication that the thing moved itself E.g.: The clouds were gone.  motional GO in ordinary English = wilful motion by animate beings

18 2 other properties of GO can be combined with indefinite or interrogative location word without prepositional to-phrase She went somewhere. Where are you going? seems more focused on leaving than on possibility of arriving somewhere She went yesterday.

19 Cross-linguistic perspective People think GO such a simple word  must have equivalents in all languages Plenty of languages lack an exact semantic equivalent German: 2 everyday words gehen= go on foot fahren= go, not on foot

20 To say in German She went to the shops. a litte more is needed, because in choosing gehen or fahren one must indicate whether she went under her own steam or not Similar in Polish: iść = move on foot jechać = move in a vehicle

21 can also occur either in imperfective form or with various perfective prefixes Longgu (Solomon Islands): English GO translated in two ways, depending on speaker´s perspective if only `from one place to another´ la if `being away from speaker or reference point´ la + directional particle hou if saying come la + directional particle mai

22 COME Goal-oriented Implies/takes for granted that goal of motion is a known place More interesting property: the way in which it imparts a particular perspective upon the motion event reported

23 Come more appropriate than go when speaker at destination AT ARRIVAL TIME I work at a shop in town and I know John will visit it tomorrow  odd if I said to you: John´s going to the shop tomorrow.  ignoring that I will be there when he arrives

24 Come also preferred if speaker at destination AT TIME OF SPEAKING I am at the shop talking to you over telephone. John´s coming to the shop tomorrow.  OK, although we both know that I will not be there tomorrow.

25  `motion towards the speaker´ (the speaker´s location) But English COME also in other contexts DEICTIC PROJECTION (refers to speaker´s ability to project imaginatively to some remote location

26 Cross-linguistic perspective Basic meaning `motion towards speaker´ Other uses result of ability to adopt another person´s point of view BUT this view faces diffiulties:

27 Why should deictic projection be possible with come, but not with here and now ? Equivalents in other languages do not allow deictic projection as freely as English come If flexibility of come result of inherent human capacity for deicitic projection, why should the exercise of this capacity vary so much from language to language?

28 Alternative explanation Differences in behaviour of `come verbs´ across languages result of differences in lexical semantics of verbs involved Why should we assume that all the words are precise semantic equivalents?

29 According to English come usage with inanimate things also possible When does the bus come? When does the train go? The plane was going to Sydney.  suitable, because part of our understanding that we are in control of these things and use them

30 COME and GO also used with natural phenomena such as the tides, rain and sun The tide was going out. The floodwaters came right up to the front fence. The sun went down/came up.  Presumably possible, because move by themselves

31 Hypothesis Use of come and go with natural phenomena an echo of earlier animistic conceptions `childhood animism´: series of stages before adult view of movement, life and consciousness attribute consciousness to anything that moves

32 Summary Motion = change of place `Motion event´ consists of FIGURE GROUND PATH (source and goal) MOTION (MANNER) (CAUSE)

33 English motion verbs COME and GO also used in other semantic fields In special cases also possible with inanimate things Not necessarily equivalents in other languages

34 THANK YOU very much for your attention


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