Constructional Meaning and Knowledge-Driven Interpretation of Motion Events

Examples from Three Romance Varieties

Alfonsina Buoniconto 1
  • 1 Salerno, Italy


Covert encoding is one of the strategies available to languages for the encoding of motion, in which, in accordance with the laws of Gestalt, the meaning of an expression encoding motion is not coincident with the mere sum of the meanings of each of its constitutive units, relying on the mediation of grammatical and co(n)text­established knowledge for its interpretability. Moving on from a data set gathered for a previous study and adopting a holistic, constructional approach, several strategies were found in a diachronic corpus of Italian, French and Spanish for the covert encoding of motion in such languages, based on whether the motion­interpretation attributed to the covert construction is mediated by either linguistic or extralinguistic knowledge. The diachronic investigation also showed that the use of such patterns is diachronically consistent in frequency, thus proving that such patterns of interaction between language and cognition may be regarded as functional for speakers of all languages and time stages, also confirming that a holistic, constructional approach to language study can help shed light on linguistic–cognitive phenomena on the basis of language variation and change.

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