Typological change in the expression of motion events from Latin to Romance languages.

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Romance languages differ from other Indo-European languages (e.g. Germanic languages) in the expression of motion events. In a broad typological perspective, they are classified as Verb-Framed languages, in contrast with Latin, which is considered Satellite-Framed (Talmy 2000); however, recent proposals tend to refine this classification in terms of preferred constructions (in given contexts) rather than global types (Beavers et al. 2010). The rich documentation of both Latin and Romance varieties allows us to evaluate this typological change within its synchronic and diachronic contexts and variation factors. Moreover, although the encoding of motion events has recently drawn a great deal of attention (cf. Guo et al. 2009, Croft et al. in press, among others), a pertinent in-depth analysis identifying a range of possible causes of the above-mentioned typological shift has not yet been addressed.Some facets of the shift from (Late)-Latin to the early stages of Romance languages have already been outlined (Schøsler, 2008, Stolova 2008, Iacobini 2009, Kopecka in press); among them:a) decrease in the number of both prefixed derivative verbs and manner of motion verbs;b) semantic bleaching of spatial prefixes; c) reinterpretation of manner of motion verbs as directional verbs (e.g. Lat. salire ‘to jump’ > Port. sair, Sp. salir ‘to exit’; It. salire ‘to go/come up’);d) formation of novel denominal and deadjectival verbs implying direction (e.g. Fr. monter, It. montare, Cat. muntar ‘to mount, to ascend’ from Lat. *montare from mons, montis ‘mountain, mount’); e) progressive loss of ways to encode the distinction between stative and directional meanings (e.g. nominal cases: in + ablative ‘location’ / in + accusative ‘direction, goal’, and prepositions, adverbs: apud ‘at’/ ad ‘to’, intus ‘on the inside’/ intro ‘to the inside’).Nevertheless, a comprehensive descriptive survey of the strategies used in encoding direction of motion both in Late and in Classical Latin is still lacking in the relevant literature.In this talk we aim at addressing some preliminary issues regarding the expression of motion events in Classical Latin in order to:i)sketch a first inventory of the motion-encoding strategies in different contexts; ii)identify the features constituting the ideal background from which the tendencies determining the typological shift from allegedly Satellite-Framed Latin to Verb-Framed Romance developed.For this purpose, a corpus of Classical Latin has been analyzed on the basis of the insights of the main cross-linguistic investigations concerning the encoding of motion events (cf. Berman & Slobin 1994, Slobin 1996, 2005). More specifically, the corpus consists of: i)a selection of passages describing displacement events. This allows a comprehensive description of the various strategies employed in Latin and, at the same time, a comparison with the corresponding translations in the main Romance languages (cf. Ibarretxe Antuñano 2003, Cifuentes-Férez 2009, for methodological criteria).ii)a selection of contexts in which manner verbs are used to describe displacement events. This sub-corpus allows evaluating in further detail the peculiar usage of such verbs in Latin, starting from the assumption that both their great amount and high frequency in use are strongly correlated to the satellite-framed linguistic type.The results reported, based on solid empirical evidence on the strategies and contexts of use, provide a fresh perspective on the subsequent changes in (Late Latin and) Romance languages, thus contributing to a better understanding
Lingua originaleEnglish
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2011

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