Motion verb constructions, frames, and profiling

Michael Herweg 1
  • 1 Heidelberg University, Department of Computational Linguistics and Heidelberg University Language and Cognition Lab, Im Neuenheimer Feld 325, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany


This paper offers a frame-semantic account of some of the manifold phenomena that can be observed in motion expressions in typologically diverse languages. The core of the proposed approach is a basic locomotion frame complemented with a mechanism of profiling that operates on this frame. The locomotion frame provides a rich structure which features the pivotal elements beneficial for the semantic representation of different types of motion descriptions. The profiling mechanism allows one to select, deselect and augment elements of this frame structure, as well as to specify significant relations between distinct parts of the frame. With these means, the profiling mechanism facilitates fine-grained differentiations among motion verbs that considerably exceed the classic dichotomy of path and manner-of-motion verbs. The proposed theory is applied to different kinds of path and manner-of-motion verbs, including those typically found in path-dominant and manner-dominant languages, as well as in languages which exhibit a pronounced diversity of motion verbs lined up in serial verb constructions. The suggested frame-semantic analyses thus reveal intricate differentiations in a multifaceted linguistic domain.

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