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Linguistic Diversity and its Sources

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A typological study of the asymmetrical expression of Path

  Contact person
Clement VOIRIN

Scientific framework and objectives

This PhD project, under the supervision of Anetta Kopecka (University Lumière Lyon 2 and DDL Laboratory) and the co-supervision of Benjamin Fagard (LaTTiCe Laboratory), began in October 2016 and has received funding from LabEx ASLAN until September 2019. It is a typological study of the expression of motion in French, English, and Polish (e.g. John went to Lyon, Diana took the kids to school), with a focus on the asymmetrical expression of Path. Conceptually speaking, Path is the spatiotemporal axis of a motion event. This axis is conceived in relation to a departure point (the Source, at the beginning of motion, e.g. to walk away from, to leave), an intermediate point (the Median, at the middle, e.g. to walk past, to pass through), and/or an arrival point (the Goal, at the end, e.g. to get to, to arrive at). Some authors postulate that the cognitive representation of these points in human mind is asymmetrical by nature: the Goal is more salient than the Source, and the Goal and the Source are more salient than the Median. There is evidence for such asymmetry at both the non-linguistic (asymmetry of attention) and the linguistic level (morphosyntactic asymmetry). The present study focuses on the linguistic aspects of the asymmetry and investigate quite new research questions on this topic, such as (1) how are the lexical, grammatical and constructional devices distributed in the verbal and the adnominal locus of motion events as regards the expression of Path in the three languages under study, (2) to what extent the typological features of languages play a role in the asymmetrical expression of Path and, (3) how does the asymmetrical expression of Path relate to discursive factors (e.g. new vs. old information about Path in the plot of the story). This is a parallel corpus-based study, all motion events were extracted from contemporary novels in French (Le Petit Prince by Antoine de St Éxupéry), English (Animal Farm by George Orwell), and Polish (Wiedźmin: ostatnie życzenie by Andrzej Sapkowski).

  Financial support
  • Contrat Doctoral ASLAN

    Labex ASLAN - Université de Lyon

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