Going beyond motion events typology: The case of Basque as a verb-framed language

Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano 1
  • 1 Departamento de Lingüística General e Hispánica, Universidad de Zaragoza, Pedro Cerbuna, 12 E-50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano


The concept of motion is present in all the world’s languages. However, the ways in which speakers of different languages codify motion do not seem to be so universal. Languages offer different types of structures to express motion, and speakers pay attention to different elements within the motion event. The goal of this paper is to examine in great detail how motion events are described and expressed in Basque oral and written narratives. This study focuses on three main areas: motion verbs, elaboration of Manner and elaboration of Path. Although Basque can be classified in Talmy’s terms as a verb-framed language, it is argued that it is not a prototypical example of this group with respect to the lexicalisation of Path. Unlike other verb-framed languages, the description of Path in Basque motion events is very frequent and detailed, not only in situations when it adds new information, but also in pleonastic cases. This characteristic seems to be related to Basque’s rich lexical resources for motion and space, as well as to its high tolerance for verb omission. On the basis of these data, the scope of Talmy’s binary typology is questioned. It is suggested that the verb- and satellite-framed language typology should be revised in order to account for these intra-typological differences.

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