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Cognitive Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Newman, John

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Volume 23, Issue 1


Dutch manner of motion verbs: Disentangling auxiliary choice, telicity and syntactic function

Maaike Beliën,
Published Online: 2012-02-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2012-0001


Dutch manner of motion verbs play a prominent role in the literature on unaccusativity. As these verbs can take both hebben ‘have’ and zijn ‘be’ as their perfective auxiliaries, they are considered to show both unergative and unaccusative behavior. The general consensus is that these verbs normally take hebben, yet occur with zijn if they are ‘telicized’ by an endpoint, and that the auxiliaries are diagnostics for the syntactic status of prepositional phrases (PPs). The paper presents attested data that reveal that this generalization is untenable: there are examples that take the opposite auxiliary from what the generalization predicts. To account for the full set of data, the paper takes a cognitive-grammar perspective, arguing that auxiliary choice, telicity and syntactic status of PPs are independent issues requiring their own explanations. Auxiliary choice is analyzed in terms of alternate construals of a motion event: with hebben as a type of act and with zijn as a change of location. In this manner, the paper adds to a growing body of literature that questions the usefulness of the coarse unergative–unaccusative distinction, advocating a ‘local analysis’ instead.

Keywords:: unaccusativity; manner of motion verbs; Dutch; auxiliary choice; telicity; complements and modifiers; prepositions; Cognitive Grammar; construal

About the article

Received: 2010-11-12

Accepted: 2011-09-21

Published Online: 2012-02-10

Published in Print: 2012-02-01

Citation Information: , Volume 23, Issue 1, Pages 1–26, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2012-0001.

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© 2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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