On deictic motion verbs in Homeric Greek

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This paper investigates the basic motion verbs ‘go’ and ‘come’ in HomericGreek. In particular, it aims to examinewhether the deictic component,which is usuallyascribed to the inherent semantic meaning of these verbs cross–linguistically, has tobe considered as a prototypical semantic property of εἶμι ‘go’ and βαίνω ‘step; go;come’. These latter can indeed take a deictic interpretation at a pragmatic, syntactic ordiscourse level, but I will show how the deictic component is not inherently associatedwith their lexical semantics. Data from the contexts of use of these verbs, in bothnarrative discourse and direct speech, strongly suggest that the original semanticopposition between ‘go’ and ‘come’ in early Homeric Greek was aspectual (Aktionsart)rather than deictic. At a lexical level, the two verbs show traces of a deictically–neutralmeaning of ‘moving along a path’, with respect to which the telic verb βαίνω proves tobe aspectually compatible with the entailment of arrival of the Figure to the Ground,whereas the atelic verb εἶμι does not contain it as an intrinsic part. Further evidencealso comes from the archaic formulaic motion construction βῆ δ΄ἰέναι ‘went; set out togo’, which is used according to aspectual rather than deictic meaning inherited fromits components.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteAncient Greek Linguistics. New Approaches, Insights, Perspectives
Numero di pagine16
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2017


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