This study examines the conceptual semantics of human locomotion verbs in two languages – English and German – using the Natural Semantic Metalanguage approach. Based on linguistic evidence, it proposes semantic explications for English walk and run, and their nearest counterparts in German, i.e. laufen (in two senses, roughly, ‘run’ and ‘go by walking’), rennen (roughly, ‘run quickly’), gehen (roughly, ‘go/walk’), and the expression zu Fuß gehen (roughly, ‘go on foot’). Somewhat surprisingly for such closely related languages, the conceptual semantics turns out to be significantly different in the two languages, particularly in relation to manner-of-motion. On the other hand, it is shown that the same four-part semantic template (with sections Lexicosyntactic Frame, Prototypical Scenario, Manner, and Potential Outcome) applies in both languages. We consider the implications for systematic contrastive semantics and for lexical typology.
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Cited by 7 other publications
2018. Minimal English: The Science Behind It. In Minimal English for a Global World, ► pp. 29 ff.
2020. Prototypes, polysemy and constructional semantics: The lexicogrammar of the English verb climb. In Meaning, Life and Culture: In conversation with Anna Wierzbicka, ► pp. 13 ff.
Purves, Ross S., Philipp Striedl, Inhye Kong & Asifa Majid
2023. Conceptualizing Landscapes Through Language: The Role of Native Language and Expertise in the Representation of Waterbody Related Terms. Topics in Cognitive Science 15:3 ► pp. 560 ff.
Rissman, Lilia, Saskia van Putten & Asifa Majid
2022. Evidence for a Shared Instrument Prototype from English, Dutch, and German. Cognitive Science 46:5
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