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Proceedings/Recueil Des Communications Année : 2013

Static and dynamic events in modern Greek: a typological perspective


The cognitive system humans use to compute and specify spatial relations has long been thought as universal, deeply built into the neurocognition of our species (Burgess et al. 1999; Fodor 2001). In the domain of motion and spatial location, however, recent cross-linguistic research has started showing that spatial language varies significantly across languages and plays an important role in structuring the fundamental domain of spatial thought (Evans & Levinson 2009; Majid et al. 2004; Slobin 1996; Hickmann 2009). Such variability is realized with spatial semantic elements mapped across the languages of the world in very different ways onto lexical and syntactic structures. According to Talmy’s (2000) cognitive linguistics, the conceptualization of a spatial setting (static or dynamic) integrates a series of conceptual components: a conceptual core which specifies the localization of a Figure with respect to a Ground, and a core schema that links the Association function with the Ground. According to this framework languages conceptually map the core schema differently: Verbframed languages (e.g., French) lexicalize it in the verb (i.e. Path of motion/localization), whereas Satellite-framed languages (e.g., Dutch) express it in constituents that stand in a sister position to the verb (satellites) lexicalizing manner of localization or manner of motion in the verb. Lemmens (2002) underlines this variability in the realm of static events and image-schemata, emphasizing crosslinguistic differences in conceptualization: Verb-framed languages put more grammatical and lexical emphasis in the description of the Ground (i.e., French speakers use neutral verbs like être, exister ‘to be/ to exist’ in locative phrases focusing on the existential relation the Figure has with the Ground) whereas Satellite-framed languages do it to a lesser extent rather focusing on the Manner the figure is located into space (i.e. Dutch speakers are compelled to use one of the three cardinal posture verbs to sit, to lie and to stand in order to consider aspects that pertain to the orientation, the shape, or the functional position of the located Figure) (but see Caroll et al. 2012 and Kopecka 2004). However, some languages are harder to classify into binary categories, rather presenting intermediate systems with double typological strategies (cf. typological continua proposed by Slobin 2004 and Lemmens 2005), such as Greek – a language that shows parallel verb- and satellite-framed constructions (existential and posture/causative location verbs for static events; lexicalization of Manner and/or Path for dynamic events – cf. Papadimitraki in preparation; Soroli 2012). The present comparative study investigates experimentally how speakers of typologically different languages (English, French and Greek) perform a variety of production tasks implying static and dynamic stimuli, with special focus to parallel systems of conflation through a systematic analysis of the use of posture verbs and spatial prepositions. The findings show that typological properties of languages can have an impact on how speakers encode spatial information in static and dynamic contexts and that speakers’ performance do not necessarily follow traditional binary classifications. This paper opens new perspectives for spatial conceptualization and contributes more generally to the discussion for a unified typological framework in the domain.
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hal-04376379 , version 1 (26-02-2024)


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Efstathia Soroli, Christina Papadimitraki. Static and dynamic events in modern Greek: a typological perspective. In Lemmens M. (Ed.) Proceedings of the 5th International AFLiCo conference on Empirical approaches to multi-modality and to language variation, Lille:, pp.122-123, 2013. ⟨hal-04376379⟩
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