Motion verbs + Manner
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I recently posted two questions regarding the coding of motion events
through verbs. I briefly summarize the most relevant responses below and
also attach the most relevant comments.
What criteria should we use in deciding what a motion verb is. Do all
sorts of movement count, etc.?
It all depends on what investigators look for and why they are interested
in motion verbs. Some, like D. Slobin, are interested in how people talk
about moving from one place to another, thus studying verbs of
translocation. Deciding, however, whether a specific construction has
translocational meaning or not depends upon contextual factors as is apparent in the
difference between "he jumped over the fence" -- > translocation, vs. "he
jumped up and down". This kind of verb polysemy (in Talmy's words (1985)
) can also be treated diffferently: J. Zlatev suggests taking as "potentially
translocational" all Manner verbs that CAN lead to a change of location
(both intransitive verbs such as "jump", "bounce", "ride", etc. and transitive
ones such as "hit", "put", "push", etc. are included). The distinction
now between intransitive and transitive verbs can reflect the distinction
between verbs of self-motion and verbs of caused-motion, although these
two pairs of categories do not always coincide, as K. Jobbagy suggests
(e.g., "follow" is a transitive verb, however it expresses change of
location of a moving object, which is the subject of the sentence). Some
researchers (e.g., Slobin) also include in their interests verbs of conveyance
("bring", "take", "carry", etc.), because these verbs are at times
translocational. Actually, these are verbs of a special type, because they
conflate the self-movement of the "carrier" and the "caused-movement"
of the thing "carried". On the other hand, Jobbagy seems to limit for her
particular research purposes translocational verbs as follows in her dissertation
(in preparation): "[...] Motion verbs are verbs that not only
implicate but incorporate in their meaning the change of location of a moving
object, and whose subject is identical with the moving object. From
this follows that motion verbs must be durative". [Antonopoulou's Ph.D. thesis
(1987) on Modern Greek Motion Verbs from the angle of Prototype Theory
includes verbs denoting change of location as well as verbs denoting
change of posture, both causative and noncausative ones, while Bassea-Bezantakou's
Ph.D. thesis (1992) on Modern Greek Motion Verbs limits the scope of
the semantic field in question to those verbs denoting movement of
the whole Figure (i.e., translocation) which is self-initiated (i.e. the
Figure is an animate entity).]
How can Manner be defined, so as we might have clear criteria on whether
verbs code Manner or Path? In fact researchers treat verbs like "fall"
as lexicalizing Manner in some studies and Path in other studies.
Manner-of-motion is seen as a multidimentional domain, so one has to decide
what s/he is interested in. Motor pattern (e.g., "crawl"), rate (e.g.,
"hurry") and attitude (e.g., "stroll") are considered to be indicative of
Manner (Slobin). As J. Zlatev reminds us, Manner corresponds to one of
Talmy's (2000) Co-events, which accompanies a main event. This can be shown
by analyzing a compound event such as "He glided down" into two sub-events
"(a) He moved downward (b) in a gliding manner", the second one denoting
how the movement (rather, change of location) is performed. However,
Manner, in the broad sense, can also encompass Speed, Vehicle, Means, etc.
(Zlatev). [At this point, I remind of Antonopoulou's dissertation (1987),
where Manner 'is used in a fairly broad sense and is meant to cover three
different areas: a central one involving various types of (typically)
human motion on ground, e.g. "trexo" (run), "perpatao" (walk), a much wider
area involving different ways of moving in water or air, e.g. "kolibao"
(swim), "petao" (fly), and a most restricted one involving distinctions
at a low level of inclusiveness as exemplified by hyponyms of verbs belonging
to the central area, e.g. "vimatizo" (pace), "dhraskelizo" (stride)'
(pp. 237-238). Antonopoulou also writes (p. 242) that '"medium",
"instrumentality" and "impetus" are regarded as being most closely related to
"manner" in the sense that their interaction results in various types of
locomotion", and she adds that a lot of "Manner" distinctions depend on
"type of object" moving (e.g., "stazo" (drip)), "speed" (e.g., "arghokilao"
(flow slowly)), "length of distance covered" (e.g., "porevome" (walk a
long distance)), and combinations of "speed and length" (e.g., "vradhiporo"
(walk a long distance slowly)). Bassea-Bezantakou (1992), in defining
Manner, takes into account factors such as type of movement perceived,
instrument (e.g., fly), spatial (e.g., what the ground consists of) and
temporal (e.g., speed) specifications, (marginally) intentionality, and the
psychological, physical and social conditions of the Agent.]
As far as the specific question on "fall" is concerned, it tends to be
treated as a Path verb (as it simply means to move downward without
self-control according to Slobin, among others), but even Slobin notes that
considering it as a possible Manner verb does not seem so far-fetched.
According to H. Harley as well, "fall" encodes just Path, while "Manner
crucially involves some element of meaning that remains constant throughout the
event; an element that is not, in Vendlerian terms, evolving towards a
culmination point, but is just 'accompanying' the event over its duration.
The problem with 'fall' is that for sufficiently unbounded falling (e.g.,
the weightlessness of astronauts in orbit), there is no culmination
point, at which point it might be a Manner verb". Zlatev on the other hand
solves the problem by considering 'fall' (and 'sink' as well) an
in-between case which conflates an element of Manner (in the broad sense) with
Path. He believes that such verbs place constraints on Path and thus
encode Manner in this general sense.
Note: I am grateful to the following contributors for their inspiring ideas.
Alexis Dimitriadis, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anetta Kopecka, Anetta.Kopecka@etienne.univ-lyon2.fr
Dan I. Slobin, slobin@socrates.Berkeley.EDU
Daniel Loehr, email@example.com
Andrea Schalley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Heidi Harley, email@example.com
Jess Tauber, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jordan Zlatev, email@example.com
Katalin JobbE1gy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Chilton, P.A.Chilton@uea.ac.uk
Robinson Ed, email@example.com & Nancy Felson,
Teenie Matlock, firstname.lastname@example.org
William L. Jarrold, email@example.com
Main points from some of the responses received:
From: Jess Tauber, firstname.lastname@example.org His approach is based on ideophones and
expressives: "These were not covered by Talmy in his own work, yet they
are likely of singular importance in any historical work dealing with manner vs. path
evolution. Some languages have many, many thousands of
these items- Japanese, Korean, many Mon-Khmer, almost all Bantu and
related Niger-Congo, etc. Others show definite traces of
relatively recent mass lexicalization of these, leaving a much reduced set
of free forms- Mongolian, Turkic, Uralic, Tungusic. Later
even fewer free forms exist, but many more lexicalized ones- European IE,
Austronesian, Tai-Kadai, etc. There seems to be a general
trend towards higher ranking insertion priveleges as one proceeds along
this continuum- both within the lexicon proper and higher
up- the more grammatical affixation, the fewer free ideophones. Eskimo, N
WCaucasian, and other extensively polysynthetic
languages have almost none at all. As mentioned earlier, such items gener
ally encode manner of activity. Generally free ideophones
have a semi-punctual type of aktionsart, so pathway is never extensive.
Only when reduplicated does path semantics become more
obvious, and that is by addition (for example, arcs to multiple circles)
. Ideophones also tend to be organized paradigmatically, in that
similar forms encode similar notions in regular and predictable ways.
Interestingly, pure pathway terms tend to have an opposite
developmental implicational hierarchy, so that their greatest expansion (
into large-scale paradigms) is in just those polysynthetic
languages that have the fewest ideophones. Anyway, most languages are in
between in terms of their lexical and syntactic organization.
Some show, like IE, both manner and pathway elements fused to the verb st
em- but the focus can clearly be shifted, as is the case
between Romance and Germanic, for instance. Interestingly here as well,
one can actually see the proportionality of onomatopoeic
free or bound, lexicalized forms shift in synch. [...]"
From: Teenie Matlock email@example.com
Suggested reading: Miller, G.A. (1972). English verbs of motion: A case
study in semantics and lexical memory. In A.W. Melton & E. Martin (Eds.),
Coding processes in human memory (pp. 335-372). New York, NY: John Wiley
Miller, G. A., & Johnson-Laird, P.N. (1976). Language and perception. Cam
bridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
From: Anetta Kopecka Anetta.Kopecka@etienne.univ-lyon2.fr
It seems to me that in Talmy`s work there is not ambuguity that "put"
expresses motion. I think that he considers "put" as a positional motion
verb that conflates "cause" component but not manner. If I understood his
interpretation "put" encodes a translational motion excerced and controlled
by an agent untill the end-point of the event. It`s a goal-oriented
motion verb. "take" and "bring" are more deictic. [...] It seems to me that
manner can be paraphrased, for example: I run to school 3D I went to
From: William L. Jarrold, firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Cyc ontology, they have encoded all of the sorts of distinctions
you are talking about. [...] We have an overall broad concept called
#$MovementEvent which would include rotation, translation and movement of a
part (e.g. a facial movement), causing other objects to move (e.g. putting).
And then there are distinctions for each of the above specializations
of movment (e.g. there are separate conceptual nodes for rotation,
translation, movement of a part, etc.) and there are many more finer gradations.
There are natural language hookups to these conceptual nodes. You might
look up Beth Levine's book on verb classes. She probably has something to
say on the matter.
From: Dan I. Slobin, slobin@socrates.Berkeley.EDU
There is no "right" answer to your questions. It all depends what you're
looking for, and why you're interested in motion verbs. In my work I'm
interested in how people talk about moving from one place to another, so I
study verbs of translocation, and in constructions that have translocational
meaning (e.g., "he jumped over the fence" but not "he jumped up and down";
"he ran to school" but not "he ran around in the yard"). In many
languages these two types are distinguished in the grammar--as in the choice
of 'be' (translocational) vs. 'have' (activity) as auxiliary. I also
distinguish between verbs of self-motiion (intransitive) and verbs of cause
d-motion (transitive)--because these have different argument structures,
and because languages often have different set of verbs for the two sorts.
I include verbs of conveyance ('bring', 'take', 'carry') in my analyses,
because these verbs are translocational; but I also treat them as a special
type, because they conflate the self-movement of the 'carrier' and the
caused-movement of the thing'carried'.
As for manner-of-motion, this is a multidimensional domain, and, again,
you have to decide what you're interested in. In my work, I attend to the
full range of verbs that encode motor pattern (e.g., 'crawl', 'walk', 'run'),
rate (e.g., 'hurry', 'dash'), and attitude (e.g., 'stroll', 'amble',
'saunter'). I debated a long time about 'fall', but finally decided that
it is a pure change-of-location verb, because there is no particular mot
or pattern, rate, or attitude involved. 'Fall' simply means to move downward
without self-control. But I can see why one might also want to consider
'fall' a manner-of-motion verb."
From: Jordan Zlatev, Jordan.Zlatev@ling.lu.se
I agree with you that there is much less constisteny than we would wish in
semantic treatments of Motion. One of the influential studies, Talmy
(1985)'s "Lexicalization patterns", left both questions you raise essentially
unresolved. But I am pleased to see that the revised version in Talmy
(2000) is rather clearer. In relation to your questions, the position seems
to be:1) A Motion event (capital M) is a "situation containing motion
and the continuation of a stationary location" (25), but this VERY general
category can be devided into "translational" ("an object's basic location
shifts from one point to another in space" and "self-contained motion"
- "an object keeps its same basic, or "average" location" (35). The problem
with deciding about particular verbs is that Motion (in both the general
and translational sense) and what is now called the "Co-Event" (that
can involve Cause, Manner, Enablement etc) are regularly "conflated". So
your examples "bring", "take" and "put" express Motion + Cause (possibly
also Deixis for the first two). The problem is that many "manner verbs"
like "float" and "kick" can appear in both a translational motion and in a
locational context: "Hi kicked the ball/the wall". Talmy tries to explain
this with polysemy - there are 2 different senses, where the first is
translational, the second locational. But this is clearly problematic, and
even Talmy adds that a constructional approach a la Goldberg (1995) may
be prefered. My approach is to treat as "potentially translocational" all
manner verbs that CAN lead to a change in location: intransitive like
"jump", "bounce", "ride", "roll" and transitive like "hit", "put", "blow",
"push". In working with a corpus, the decision on whether translational
motion is involved will have to be worked out from the context. In the case
of the "path verbs" in Romance etc. the situation is clearer since they
are per defnition translocational (I prefer this term than "translational").
2) "Manner" too can be defined more generally to mean something like
Talmy's "Co-event" - and then can be subcategoried with respect to the
various "relations" that the "co-event" stands to with respect to the (main)
translocational event, where "manner" in a narrow sense is but one: "He
glided down" 3D "He moved downward in a gliding manner"Other types of
"Manner" in the broad sense involve Spead, Vehicle, Means etc. My main
reservation with respect to Talmy is the apriorisic decision to call
translocation, or more generally "the core schema" for the "main/framing event"
and all other type of information "the co-event". I can not see the basis
for such a generalization accord the board, but only in say, the Romance
languages. As far as verbs like "fall", "sink" etc. verbs are concerned,
I think they take an intermediary position between the "pure" manner
verbs (that could be locational in some contects at least - "He walked for
hours on the treadmill") and the path verbs like "enter" and "exit". I
think they conflate an element of Manner (in the broad sense) and of Path
too. My criterion is that they place constraints on Path, so that e.g.
*"I fell upwards" is wierd. So in my work I code them seperately, calling
them Manner+Path (MP) verbs. Interestingly they also take a seperate
structural position in the language I work with, Thai.
From: Daniel Loehr, email@example.com
Check out: http://www.cogsci.princeton.edu/~wn/ (WordNet)
From: Andrea Schalley, firstname.lastname@example.org
1) I guess this depends on the reference you assume. That is, with regard
to the body, the hand is moving while putting things. With
regard to the background in front of which the body as a trajector exists,
it probably doesn't (or maybe the hand does, but the slight
facial movement doesn't). So it seems to be a fuzzy distinction. Nevertheless,
my intuition tells me that for a verb to be a motion verb
there has to be a movement of the whole body involved. This movement can
be along a path (run) or at a location (jump). So I
wouldn't include `to put something' into the class of motion verbs as long
as only a movement of an arm or a hand is necessary. [...] Here I agree
for bring and for the reading of take which includes a movement to the
place of reference (i.e., the place the thing or
person has to be taken to, as in taking something to the kitchen (while in
the living room)). If I stand in front of a table and take a
book from the table, I would not consider take to be a motion verb. 2).
[...] concerning your example [fall] I would prefer the Manner reading
(just intuitively - maybe because a Path analysis is not
distinctive enough, as flow, run, fall, jump, etc. would all entail Path
From: Heidi Harley, email@example.com
1). I have always understood motion verbs to be those verbs that involve
motion or change of position of the body as a whole. "sit" and "stand", in
the active senses, then, would be motion verbs, "sit" and "stand" in the
stative sense ("The lamp stands in the corner"), verbs describing facial
movements and placing things with the hands (without moving the whole body)
would not be. "Bring" and "take", insofar as they imply movement of
the bearer along with the Theme, are motion verbs. (Pinker has some
interesting remarks in his 1989 book on the availability of the double-object
construction in English with such verbs -- although I think 'bring' and
'take' are counterexamples to his claim, which is that if the bearer has to
go along with the Theme, it's not dative-shiftable: "I threw Mary the
ball" but "??I schlepped Mary the box".
2). I would think "fall" encodes Path, not manner. Manner, I think, crucially
involves some element of meaning that remains constant throughout the
event; an element that is not, in Vendlerian terms, evolving towards a
culmination point, but is just 'accompanying' the event over its duration
. The problem with 'fall', I suppose, is that for sufficiently unbounded
falling (e.g. the weightlessness of astronauts in orbit), there is no
culmination point, at which point I suppose it might be a manner verb.
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