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Summary Details

Query:   Event Structure
Author:  Andrea Schalley
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Pragmatics

Summary:   For Query: Linguist 11.2243

Dear linguists,

sorry for my late reaction. On October 17th I posed the following question:

I am interested in a comparison of event structures. As an example, I would like to consider English ''to fetch'' or German ''holen''. I am especially wondering how different languages express this concept - please let me know.

And I'd like to know whether native speakers would say that the event structure of ''to fetch'' / ''holen'' etc. -if the language uses only one word to express the concept - consists of three subevents: 1) going to some place, 2) taking something, and 3) coming (to the deictic center). Would you say that these three subevents are on an equal level or is one or are two of them prominent? Could you even say that two of them form a subevent themselves (so that ''to fetch'' consists of two subevents with one subevent being composed of two subevents itself)?

I would appreciate it very much to also get information on:

(i) Verb serialising languages - do they depict the event structure overtly as respective occurrences of verbs describe the subevents?

(ii) Are there languages that split one from the other two subevents, e.g. via literally saying ''go take-come'' or ''go-take come''?

Below are the answers that were sent to me - in alphabetical order. I'd like to thank all the contributors for their help!!

Hans C. Boas:
hinsichtlich unterschiedlichen Konzeptionen von ''event structure'' sind -meines Erachtens - folgende Werke von Interesse.

1. Zahlreiche Artikel und Buecher von Beth Levin und Malka Rappaport Hovav. Auf der webpage von Beth Levin an der Stanford University ist eine ausfuehrliche Literaturliste zu finden.

2. Arbeiten von Len Talmy ueber lexicalization patterns. Gerade herausgekommen ist Talmy (2000) Cognitive Semantics, bei MIT Press. sehr viele Hinweise ueber event structure und wie sie in unterschiedlichen Sprachen ausgedrueckt werden.

3. Mehr formalistisch - und leider hinsichtlich der Daten nur minimal - die Arbeiten von S. Winkler (1997), Focus and Secondary Predication, De Gruyter, und S. Rapp (1997), Partizipien und semantische Struktur.

4. Ein, meiner Ansicht nach, sehr interessanter Artikel von der typologischen Seite her, ist Pawley, A. (1987), Encoding Events in Kalam and English: Different Logics for Reporting Experience, in: Tomlin, I. (ed.), Coherence and grounding in discourse. Philadelphia: Benjamins. pp. 329-360.

Was mir gerade einfaellt hinsichtlich event structure sind auch die Arbeiten von William Croft, U of Manchester. Das letzte was ein Artikel von ihm, der im Band ''The Projection of Arguments'' von M. Butt u. W. Geuder bei CSLI 1998 herausgekommen ist. Ausserdem hat er gerade zwei sehr interessante ARbeiten fertiggestellt, zumindest in Manuskriptform.

1. Radical Construction Grammar.

2. Verbs: Aspect and argument structure. (seven chapters on causal-aspectual relations).

Jean-Charles Khalifa:
- --------------
>(ii) Are there languages that split one from the other two subevents, e.g. via literally saying ''go take-come'' or >''go-take come''?

French is one such language (and the translation of ''fetch'' from English into French has consequently always sounded awkward to me!). The only way you can word it is ''aller chercher'', literally ''go search'', where of course, ''chercher'' again only windows (to use Talmy's approach) one portion of the whole event.

>Or would you say that the semantics of ''chercher'' prototypically includes a kind of a 'take-event'? Otherwise the semantics of ''to fetch'' - ''aller chercher'' in French would not include taking something and bringing it?!

it raises an even more interesting point indeed! supposing we might admit that, through some sort of metaphorical extension, a finding event would be construed as including the taking, or appropriating by the finder of the object found, this would be even more difficult to admit when we're ONLY windowing the ''looking for'' event. In which case, we'd have to admit, at first glance, that French only windows the initial sub-event, something like:


How does that sound?? Actually, I never thought about that point before, but it looks promising to me. It'd have to be backed up by comparing data in many different languages, along the lines of, e.g. Slobin & Talmy for verbs of motion.

Max Louwerse:
You might want to try
*William Frawley (1992) Linguistic Semantics. Hillsdale, Erlbaum.
*Bob Carpenter (1997) Type-Logical Semantics. Cambridge, MIT.

Francisco Martin Miguel:
- ----------------
That there are three subevents (no matter how you arrange them, i.e., either 3 or as 2 events, one of them further subdivided) in verbs like ''fetch'' can be defended cross-linguistically if we analyse how this verb can be translated into Spanish. Two translations are possible: ''ir a coger'' and ''traer'' (fetch the book: ''vete a coger el libro'' or ''trae el libro'').

In ''ir a coger'', Spanish verbalises events 1 and 2 (going to some place, and take something) and leaves event 3 implicit (come back); in ''traer'', it verbalises events 2 and 3 and leaves event 1 implicit.

Michael Swan:
I don't really know anything about this, but just a thought: both English and French have a tendency to break down the notion of fetching into two components: English 'go and fetch' or 'go to fetch' (not uncommon), and French 'aller chercher' (very common).

Ton van der Wouden:
In Dutch, ''halen'' `holen' is very often supported by ''gaan'' `gehen':

Ik zal het gaan halen
I will it go get

And in English, there's the construction ''I'll go and get it.''

- -----------------------------------------------------

I'd be lucky to go on discussing this question, especially if there is anyone who can give me facts on other languages!

Best regards,
Andrea Schalley

LL Issue: 12.1389
Date Posted: 21-May-2001
Original Query: Read original query


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