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Cognitive Linguistics

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Volume 26, Issue 4


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
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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


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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, Volume 26, Issue 4, Pages 657–696, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2015-0025.

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