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Scramble, Scurry and Dash: The Correlation between Motion Event Encoding and Manner Verb Lexicon Size in Indo-European

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In recent decades, much has been discovered about the different ways in which people can talk about motion (Talmy, 1985, 1991; Slobin, 1996, 1997, 2004). Slobin (1997) has suggested that satellite-framed languages typically have a larger and more diverse lexicon of manner of motion verbs (such as run, fly, and scramble) when compared to verb-framed languages. Slobin (2004) has claimed that larger manner of motion verb lexicons originate over time because codability factors increase the accessibility of manner in satellite-framed languages. In this paper I investigate the dependency between the use of the satellite-framed encoding construction and the size of the manner verb lexicon. The data used come from 20 Indo-European languages. The methodology applied is a range of phylogenetic comparative methods adopted from biology, which allow for an investigation of this dependency while taking into account the shared history between these 20 languages. The results provide evidence that Slobin’s hypothesis was correct, and indeed there seems to be a relationship between the use of the satellite-framed construction and the size of the manner verb lexicon.

Affiliations: 1: Evolutionary Processes in Language and Culture Group,\br/ Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands


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