De/constructing motion events


De/constructing motion events


Dates for the conference: July, 1st-3rd, 2021

Place: Paris, France

ENS, rue d'Ulm, salle Dussane


Scientific description and call for papers:


 The expression of motion events is a multifaceted phenomenon that lies at the confluence of morphology, lexical semantics, syntax, discourse and pragmatics. Recent research has probed into its composite nature, revealing how it is underpinned by language-specific constellations of interacting factors (Beavers, Levin et al. 2010). The aim of this conference is to further explore these factors, with particular emphasis on the role of the verb and crosslinguistic comparison, while encouraging different approaches (Levin 1993, Aurnague 2011, Stosic 2019) to share their views on the matter. Possible topics are given below:

  • Lexical semantics: what are possible motion predicates? Is there a strict path/manner complementarity constraint at work realized in two distinct lexical classes (Levin & R. Hovav 2010, Levin 2011), or is it preferable to adopt a finer-grained conception of manner, by isolating certain features or parameters (like force, speed, etc.) which can make “change of placement” (i.e., manner of motion) verbs become “change of basic locative relation” (i.e., direction motion) verbs? (Aurnague 2011, Stosic 2019, Sarda 2019)? Consequently, what exactly is manner? What is a possible verb of manner of motion? Are there constraints on the type of manner parameters and their combination? Are there distinct verb types across languages?
  • The distributed expression of motion: how do different morphosyntactic tools, syntax and pragmatic factors conspire to yield a motion interpretation? To what extent does the morphological potential of a language interact with the locus of semantic component of motion (cf. Sinha & Kuteva 1995)? How can we compare languages with rich and poor morphological possibilities with respect to the expression of motion? What impact does the compactness facilitated by a rich morphology have on the cognitive representation of motion? How does such an approach interact with Talmy (1972, 1985, 2000)’s typological division between Verb-framed and Satellite-framed languages? Are there languages that use discourse and pragmatic strategies to encode motion components beyond the morphosyntactic domain?
  • Diachrony and linguistic change: how do path verbs or manner verbs emerge? Are there cases where verbs having a path component develop a manner component through the course of time, instead of the opposite? It would be interesting to examine languages that changed from a Verb-framed to a Satellite-framed pattern of motion expression (or vice versa).
  • The goal /source asymmetry or goal bias (Ikegami 1987, Stefanowitsch & Rohde 200,) is a phenomenon both linguistically and cognitively well observed. In a wide range of languages, there is a preference for goal over source expression (Verkerk 2017). Beyond this general trend, further descriptions are needed to clarify (especially in verb-framed languages where the path is encoded by verbs) the combinatory constraints between the semantics of verbs and prepositional phrases, and how it is reflected in the different statuses that locative PPs can receive (Aurnague 2015, Sarda 2019)?



 Aurnague, Michel. 2011. How motion verbs are spatial. The spatial foundations of intransitive motion verbs in French. In Lingvisticæ Investigationes - Volume 34, Issue 1, 1-34. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Aurnague, Michel. 2015. Motion verbs and spatial PPs in French: from spatio-temporal structure to asymmetry and goal bias. Carnets de Grammaire, n°23, rapport CLLE-ERSS, 2015.

Barðdal, Jóhanna. 2008. Productivity: Evidence from Case and Argument Structure in Icelandic. John Benjamins, Amsterdam.

Akita, Kimi. 2018. The typology of manner expressions: A preliminary look. In I. Ibarretxe-Antunano, ed., Motion and Space across Languages: Theory and Applications, 39-60. John Benjamins, Amsterdam.

Beavers, John, Beth Levin, and Tham, Shiao Wei. 2010. The typology of motion expressions revisited. In Journal of Linguistics 46:2, 331-77.

Bybee, Joan. 2010. Language, Usage and Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Croft, William. 2001. Radical Construction Grammar. Syntactic theory in typological perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Croft, William, Jóhanna Barðdal, Willem Hollmann, Violeta Sotirova, & Chiaki Taoka. 2010. Revising Talmy’s typological classification of complex event constructions. In Hans C. Boas, ed., Contrastive construction grammar (Constructional Approaches to Language 10), 201-35. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Filipović, Luna. 2013. Typology as a continuum: intratypological evidence from English and Serbo-Croatian. In J. Goschler & A. Stefanowitsch, eds., Variation and Change in the encoding of motion events, 17-38. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Goldberg, Adele E. and Jackendoff, Ray. 2004. The English resultative as a family of constructions. Language 80: 532-358.

Ibarretxe-Antunano, Iraide. 2009. Path salience in motion events. In J. Guo et al., eds., Crosslinguistic Approaches to the Psychology of Language: Research in the Tradition of Dan Isaac Slobin, 403-414. New York: Psychology Press.

Levin, Beth. 1993. English verb classes and alternations. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Levin, Beth and Rappaport Hovav, Malka. 2005. Argument Realization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Perek, Florent. 2016. Using distributional semantics to study syntactic productivity in diachrony: a case study. Linguistics 54: 149-188.

Rappaport Hovav, Malka and Levin, Beth. 1998. Building verb meanings. In M. Butt and W. Geuder, eds, The Projection of Arguments: Lexical and Compositional Factors, 97-133. CSLI Publications, Stanford CA.

Rappaport Hovav, Malka and Levin, Beth. 2001. An event structure account of English resultatives. Language 77: 766-797.

Rappaport Hovav, Malka and Levin, Beth. 2010. Reflections on Manner/Result Complementarity. In  M. Rappaport Hovav, E. Doron and I. Sichel, eds, Lexical Semantics, Syntax, and Event Structure, 20-38.

Sarda, Laure. 2019. French motion verbs. Insights into the status of locative PPs. In M. Aurnague & D. Stosic, eds, The Semantics of Dynamic Space in French. Descriptive, experimental and formal studies on motion expression, 67- 107. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Sinha, C., & Kuteva, T. (1995). Distributed Spatial Semantics. Nordic Journal of Linguistics, 18(2), 167-199. doi:10.1017/S0332586500000159

Slobin, Dan I. 2004. The many ways to search for a frog: Linguistic typology and the expression of motion events. In S. Strömqvist and L. Verhoeven, eds, Relating Events in Narrative 2: Typological and Contextual Perspectives, 219–57. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Stosic, Dejan. 2019. Manner as a cluster concept. What does lexical coding of manner of motion tell us about manner? In M. Aurnague & D. Stosic, eds, The Semantics of Dynamic Space in French. Descriptive, experimental and formal studies on motion expression, 140-177. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Talmy, Leonard. 2000. Toward a Cognitive Semantics Volume 1&2. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Verkerk, AnnaMarie. The goal-over-source principle in European languages. Preliminary results from a parallel corpus study. In S. Luraghi, T. Nikitina and C. Zanchi, eds, Space in Diachrony, 1-40. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.


 Keynote speakers:

Beth Levin (Univ. Stanford), Johanna Barðdal (Univ. Gent), Dejan Stosic (Univ Toulouse), Michel Aurnague (Univ Toulouse).



Université Sorbonne Nouvelle (Eric Corre, Charlotte Danino, Leslie Tahan,), LATTICE (Laure Sarda, Benjamin Fagard), INALCO (Huy Linh-Dao), Université Framche Comté-Besançon (Thành Do-Hurinville).


Call for papers

 We welcome proposals for talks on any of the topics related to motion events that are described above.

  •  Poster Sessions

 A session where the participants are allowed 3 min each to present their posters is included in the schedule.

  •  Abstract Submission

Abstracts should be anonymous and sent via before January 15th, 2021.

They should correspond to the themes of the conference, be 350-500 word-long (plus references), in English, and specify the methodology and results of the study.










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