Publication details [#10431]

Stolova, Natalya I. 2003. Verbs of motion in the Romance languages. Philadelphia, Penn.. 797 pp.


The dissertation is a diachronic study of verbs of motion in the Romance languages. The work on these verbs that has been carried out so far is often scattered in dictionaries, historical grammars, books on Romance verbal system and isolated articles, and the few articles and book-length monographs that make verbs of motion their prime concern tend to limit themselves to only one level of analysis and to one of the widely-studied languages, such as French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish. This dissertation amplifies this traditional scope. It analyzes the historical development of the verbs of motion on the levels of lexicology, semantics, morphology and syntax in nine national and non-national languages, such as Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Rumanian, Catalan, Occitan, Sardinian, and Rhaeto-Romance. In addition, the dissertation expands the kind of theoretical framework that can be applied to the Romance verbs that express movement by drawing upon several theories situated within the framework of cognitive linguistics. Chapter 1 relates the principles of cognitive onomasiology (semantic field theory) proposed by Andreas Blank and Peter Kock to the cognitive typology of languages formulated by Leonard Talmy. Chapter 2 is structured around the conceptual theory of metaphor developed by George Lakoff and his collaborators. Chapter 3 incorporates the cognitive account of perfect auxiliary variation conceived by Thomas Shannon for the Germanic languages. Chapter 4 draws upon the grammaticalization theory developed by American and European linguists in the last two decades. The application of these theories reveals that at each one of the four levels of lexicology, semantics, morphology and syntax the Romance verbs of motion exhibit a combination of conservative and innovative tendencies. It also highlights the parallels that exist between the main attributes of the cognitive approach - namely its polyvalent nature, functional focus and emphasis on the speaker's interaction with the world - and the most salient features of verbs that express movement. Thus the dissertation argues that while the cognitive paradigm is by no means the only possible way to study the Romance verbs of motion, it is particularly well suited to serve as a unifying perspective on the subject. (Natalya Stolova)