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Theoretical Linguistics

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Volume 38, Issue 3-4 (Oct 2012)


Event structure, conceptual spaces and the semantics of verbs

Massimo Warglien,
  • Università Ca' Foscari, Dipartimento di Management, Cannaregio 873, 30121 Venezia, Italy
  • Email:
/ Peter Gärdenfors,
  • Lunds Universitet, Filosofiska institutionen, Kungshuset, Lundagård, 222 22 Lund, Sweden
  • Email:
/ Matthijs Westera,
  • Universiteit van Amsterdam, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, ILLC, P.O. Box 94242, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Email:
Published Online: 2012-11-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tl-2012-0010


The aim of this paper is to integrate spatial cognition with lexical semantics. We develop cognitive models of actions and events based on conceptual spaces and vectors on them. The models are then used to present a semantic theory of verbs.

We propose a two-vector model of events including a force vector and a result vector. We argue that our framework provides a unified account for a multiplicity of linguistic phenomena related to verbs. Among other things it provides a cognitive explanation for the lexico-semantic constraint regarding manner vs. result and for polysemy caused by intentionality. It also generates a unified definition of aspect.

Keywords: actions; events; conceptual spaces; similarity; force vector; result vector; manner/result complementarity; aspect

About the article

Published Online: 2012-11-06

Published in Print: 2012-10-30

Citation Information: , ISSN (Online) 1613-4060, ISSN (Print) 0301-4428, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tl-2012-0010.

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©[2012] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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