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Reference to Motion Events in Six Western Austronesian Languages: Toward a Semantic Typology

By Shuanfan Huang and Michael Tanangkingsing


national taiwan university The language of motion events is a system used to specify the motion of objects through space with respect to other objects. Recent research has shown that languages differ in the relative saliency of manner or path they focus on in motion event descriptions. These can be thought of as different strategies dedicated to specifying the spatial relationship between objects in motion and the landmark object. We propose a four-way typology based on the narrative data from six western Austronesian languages. Evidence is presented that each of the languages examined typically has a preferred strategy for describing motion events and that each has a distinct narrative style. These six languages are shown to share the commonality of giving greater attention to path information in motion events. Path salience in the encoding of motion clauses appears to exhibit a strong diachronic stability, suggesting that Proto-Austronesian was probably also a path-salient language

Year: 2009
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