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Evolutionary change in Indo-European motion event encoding


Verkerk,  Annemarie
International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society, Nijmegen, NL;
Evolutionary Processes in Language and Culture, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Verkerk, A. (2012). Evolutionary change in Indo-European motion event encoding. Talk presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research. Las Vegas, NV. 2012-02-22 - 2012-02-25.

Languages differ in their ways of encoding semantic aspects of motion events. In Spanish, for instance, the path of movement is typically indicated by the verb (verb-framed), while in English, manner of movement is typically expressed by the verb while path is expressed with particles (satellite-framed) (Talmy, 1991). In this talk, I will investigate the evolution of different strategies for motion event encoding using a parallel corpus of translated motion events from three literary works: Alice‘s adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there, both by Lewis Carroll, and O Alquimista by Paulo Coelho. Included in the sample are twenty Indo-European languages. The evolution of motion event encoding is investigated with comparative phylogenetic methods that are adopted from biology. First, I test whether a historical signal is present. Second, I estimate the ancestral states of motion event encoding in Indo-European. I focus on Proto-Indo-European, which is claimed to be satellite-framed (Acedo Matellán and Mateu 2008, Talmy 2007). Third, I will present results of a phylogenetic test of the hypothesis that the size of the manner verb class is dependent on motion event encoding construction usage (Slobin 2004).