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ven. 21/02/2020 Atelier Typologie sémantique
On PURPOSE and its relationship to MOTION: conceptual, semantic and syntactic perspectives
14h30-16h
ISH, salle Ennat Léger
Conférence de :
  • Clément Voirin (DDL)
dans le cadre DTT

This presentation focuses on the concept of PURPOSE and its semantic and syntactic links with motion events. PURPOSE refers to a relationship between two events, namely when one event “is performed with the goal of obtaining the realization of another one” (Cristofaro 2013). Importantly, the realization of the second event depends on the realization of the first one. This entails that the first event is encoded in a main clause and the second event in a subordinate purpose clause (ibid.). Typological research on this topic has focused on clause-linking devices, forms and argument structure of predicates used in purpose clauses crosslinguistically (see Cristofaro (2003, 2013), Verstraete (2008) and Schmidtke-Bode (2009) inter alia). Interestingly, research on individual languages or on sample of languages have pointed out the particular syntactic and semantic structure of some purpose clauses subordinated to a main clause encoding motion (see Lamiroy (1983), Aissen (1984), Schmidtke-Bode (2009: 94-99) inter alia, see also Stefanowitsch (1999, 2000) and Wulff (2006) on English go+Verb / go and+Verb “fake coordinated” constructions). These so called “motion-cum-purpose” constructions (a term proposed by Aissen (1984)) are characterized by a high degree of syntactic and semantic integration of the event encoded in the purpose clause to the motion event encoded in the main clause (e.g. Il est allé [courir sur la plage] ‘He went to run on the beach’, Il est parti [acheter le journal] ‘He went to buy the newspaper’). In such constructions, the purpose clause often has the status of syntactic argument rather than adjunct of the main clause (see Lamiroy (1983) and Schmidtke-Bode (2009: 96-97) inter alia). Furthermore, the semantic structure of the main motion predicate gets “blended” with that of the subordinate predicate (see Stefanowitsch (1999) on the notion of “semantic blend”). Finally, from a cognitive perspective, it is argued that spatial locations and purpose are closely related. For instance, going to the cinema presumably entails going to watch a movie, and this relation is grounded in our experience of reality (see Johnson (1987) or Lakoff (1987) inter alia). Such experiential correlation is in itself a reason for looking more closely at the syntactic and semantic features of motion-cum-purpose constructions.

In this presentation, I will first give a crosslinguistic overview of the main syntactic and semantic features of purpose clauses. I will then investigate motion-cum-purpose constructions in the corpus of parallel texts in French, English and Polish. Finally, I will consider whether purpose clauses are tightly or loosely related to the main clause (form of clause-linking device, additional text or punctuation between clauses for instance) and examine which predicates are used in main and purpose clauses (form and meaning of these predicates).

AISSEN, J. (1984). Control and command in Tzotzil purpose clauses. Berkeley Linguistics Society 10: 559-571.

CRISTOFARO, S. (2003). Subordination. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

CRISTOFARO, S. (2013). Purpose clauses. In Dryer, M.S. & Haspelmath, M. (eds.), The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

JOHNSON, M. (1987). The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press.

LAKOFF, G. (1987). Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press.

LAMIROY, B. (1983). Les verbes de mouvement en français et en espagnol. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

SCHMIDTKE-BODE, K. (2009). A typology of purpose clauses. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

STEFANOWITSCH, A. (1999). The go-and-VERB construction in a cross-linguistic perspective: Image schema blending and the construal of events. In Nordquist, D. & Berkenfield, C. (eds.), Proceedings of the 2nd Annual High Desert Linguistics Society Conference. 123-134. Albuquerque NM: High Desert Linguistics Society.

STEFANOWITSCH, A. (2000). The English GO-(PRT)-AND-VERB construction. Berkeley Linguistics Society 26: 259-270.

VERSTRAETE, J.-C. (2008). The status of purpose, reason and intended endpoint in the typology of complex sentences, and its implications for layered models of clause structure. Linguistics 46: 757-788.

WULFF, S. (2006). Go-V vs. go-and-V in English: A case of constructional synonymy?. In Gries, S. & Stefanowitsch, A. (eds.), Corpora in Cognitive Linguistics: Corpus-based Approaches to Syntax and Lexis. 101-125. Berlin/New-York: Mouton de Gruyter.


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