Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
In This Section

Cognitive Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Newman, John

4 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 2.135

CiteScore 2016: 1.29

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.592
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 1.277

See all formats and pricing
In This Section
Volume 26, Issue 4 (Nov 2015)


The expression of non-actual motion in Swedish, French and Thai

Johan Blomberg
  • Corresponding author
  • Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University, Sweden & Institut für Sprache und Kommunikation, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
  • Email:
Published Online: 2015-10-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2015-0025


Dynamic descriptions of static spatial situations, such as the road goes through the forest have attracted a lot of attention across different semantic theories. Analyses in terms of fictive motion and subjective motion have proposed that such expressions are strongly motivated by universal cognitive and conceptual factors. I present theoretical arguments for the conflation of several different motivations in the literature. Instead of a single general motivation, three distinct experiential motivations are presented under the term non-actual motion. These experiential motivations are used to design an elicitation tool for investigating non-actual motion cross-linguistically. Elicited descriptions from speakers of Swedish, French and Thai suggest that such descriptions are conventionalized in all three languages, which supports the universal character of non-actual motion across languages. However, in expressing non-actual motion, the language-specific resources for expressing actual motion are used.

Keywords: non-actual motion; fictive motion; subjective motion; motion semantics; semantic typology


  • Amagawa, Toyoko. 1997. Subjective motion in English and Japanese: A case study of run and hashiru. Tsukuba English studies 16. 33–50.

  • Beavers, John, Beth Levin & Shiao Wei Tham. 2010. The typology of motion expressions revisited. Journal of Linguistics 46. 331–377. [Web of Science]

  • Bergen, Benjamin. 2007. Experimental methods for simulation semantics. In Monika Gonzalez-Marquez, Irene Mittleberg, Seana Coulson & Michael J. Spivey (eds.), Methods in cognitive linguistics, 277–301. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Blomberg, Johan. 2014. Motion in language and experience – Actual and non-actual motion in Swedish, French and Thai. PhD Thesis. Lund University.

  • Blomberg, Johan & Jordan Zlatev. 2014. Actual and non-actual motion: Why experientialist semantics needs phenomenology (and vice versa). Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13(3). 395–418. [Web of Science]

  • Bohnemeyer, Jürgen, Nicholas J. Enfield, James Essegbey, Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano, Sotaru Kita, Friederike Lüpke & Felix Ameka. 2007. Principles of event segmentation in language: The case of motion events. Language 83(3). 495–532.

  • Brandt, Line. 2009. Subjectivity in the act of representing: The case for subjective motion and change. Phenomenology and the cognitive sciences 8(4). 573–601. [Web of Science]

  • Croft, William, Johanna Barðdal, Willem Hollmann, Violeta Sotirova & Chiaki Taoka. 2010. Revising Talmy’s typological classification of complex events. In Hans C. Boas (eds.), Contrastive construction grammar, 201–235. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Fillmore, C. J. 1997. Lectures on deixis. Stanford: CLSI Publications.

  • Gibson, James J. 1977. The theory of affordances. In Robert Shaw & John Bransford (eds.), Perceiving, acting, and knowing, 127–143. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

  • Gibson, James J. 1979. The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

  • Greenberg, Joseph. 1963. Universals of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Langacker, Ronald. W. 1987. Foundations of cognitive grammar, Vol. 1: Theoretical prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

  • Langacker, Ronald. W. 1990. Concept, image, and symbol: The cognitive basis of grammar. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Langacker, Ronald. W. 1999. Virtual reality. Studies in the Linguistic Sciences 29(2). 77–103.

  • Langacker, Ronald. W. 2001. Dynamicity in grammar. Axiomathes 12. 7–33.

  • Langacker, Ronald. W. 2006. Subjectification, grammaticization, and conceptual archetypes. In Angeliki Athanasiadou, Costas Canakis & Bert Cornille (eds.), Subjectification: Various paths to subjectivity, 17–41. The Hague: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Levelt, Willem J. M. 1996. Perspective taking and ellipsis in spatial description. In Paul Bloom, Mary A. Peterson, Lynn Nadel & Merrill F. Garrett (eds.), Language and space, 77–108. Cambridge: MIT Press.

  • Levinson, Steven. C. 2003. Space in language and cognition: Explorations in cognitive diversity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Levinson, Steven. C. & David P. Wilkins. 2006. Grammars of space: Explorations in cognitive diversity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Matlock, Teenie. 2004a. Fictive motion as cognitive simulation. Memory & Cognition 32(8). 1389–1400.

  • Matlock, Teenie. 2004b. The conceptual motivation of fictive motion. In Günter Radden & Klaus-Uwe Panther (eds.), Studies in linguistic motivation, 221–248. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Matlock, Teenie. 2010. Abstract motion is no longer abstract. Language & Cognition 2(2). 243–260.

  • Matsumoto, Yo. 1996. Subjective motion in English and Japanese. Cognitive Linguistics 7(2). 183–226.

  • Pecher, Diane & Rolf A. Zwaan. 2005. Introduction to Grounding cognition: The role of perception and action in memory, language, and thinking. In Diane Pecher & Rolf A. Zwaan (eds.), Grounding cognition: The role of perception and action in memory, language, and thinking, 1–8. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Piaget, Jean & Bärbel Inhelder. 1956. The child’s conception of space. London: Routledge.

  • Richardson, Daniel & Teenie Matlock. 2007. The integration of figurative language and static depictions: An eye movement study of fictive motion. Cognition 102(1). 129–138.

  • Rojo, Ana & Javier Valenzuela. 2004. Fictive motion in English and Spanish. International Journal of English Studies 3(2). 123–149.

  • Rojo, Ana & Javier Valenzuela. 2009. Fictive motion in Spanish: Travellable, non-travellable and path-related manner information. In Javier Valenzuela, Ana Rojo & Cristina Soriano (eds.), Trends in cognitive linguistics: Theoretical and applied models, 221–239. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

  • Slobin, Dan. I. 2004. The many ways to search for a frog: linguistic typology and the expression of motion events. In Sven Strömqvist & Ludo Verhoeven (eds.), Relating events in narrative: Typological and contextual perspectives, 219–257. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  • Slobin, Dan I., Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano, Anetta Kopecka & Asifa Majid. 2014. Manners of human gait: A cross-linguistic event-naming study. Cognitive Linguistics 25(4). 701–742.

  • Stosic, Dejan & Laure Sarda. 2009. The many ways to be located: The expression of fictive motion in French and Serbian. In Marija Brala Vukanović & Lovorka Gruić Grmuŝa (eds.), Space and time in language and literature, 39–60. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

  • Talmy, Leonard. 1983. How language structures space. In Herbert L. Pick Jr. & Linda P. Acredolo (eds.), Spatial orientation: Theory, research, and application, 225–282. New York: Plenum Press.

  • Talmy, Leonard. 2000a. Toward a cognitive semantics, Vol. 1. Cambridge: MIT Press.

  • Talmy, Leonard. 2000b. Toward a cognitive semantics, Vol. 2. Cambridge: MIT Press.

  • Zlatev, Jordan. 1997. Situated embodiment: Studies in the emergence of spatial meaning. Stockholm: Gotab.

  • Zlatev, Jordan. 2003. Holistic spatial semantics of Thai. In Eugene H. Casad & Gary B. Palmer (eds.), Cognitive linguistics and Non-Indo-European languages, 305–336. Berlin & New York: Mouton De Gruyter.

  • Zlatev, Jordan. 2007. Spatial semantics. In Dirk Geeraerts & Herbert Cuyckens (eds.), The Oxford handbook of cognitive linguistics, 318–350. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Zlatev, Jordan & Peerapat Yangklang. 2004. A third way of travel: The place of Thai in motion-event typology. In Sven Strömqvist & Ludo Verhoeven (eds.), Relating events in narrative: Typological & contextual perspectives, 159–190. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

About the article

Received: 2015-03-09

Revised: 2015-07-31

Accepted: 2015-08-19

Published Online: 2015-10-16

Published in Print: 2015-11-01

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2015-0025. Export Citation

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in