International Journal of Language & Linguistics

ISSN 2374-8850 (Print), 2374-8869 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijll

Semantic coercion: Rethinking motion verbs in Thinking-For-Speaking
Dr. Imed Louhichi

The categorization of motion verbs in THINKING-FOR-SPEAKING (TfS) research paradigm entails some theoretical problems that need to be addressed. This conclusion is motivated by the examination of motion verb types listed in Berman &Slobin (1994, p. 198) for Spanish and English narrators of ‘the frog story’ (Mayer, 1969). These lists show a range of semantically different verb types including verbs describing MANNER VIA MOTION (e.g., climb), CAUSE VIA MOTION (e.g., push), PATH VIA MOTION (e.g., come), SOUND-EMISSION (e.g., buzz), and ACTION (e.g., knock). We argue that in the absence of any clear theoretical framework for why, how and whether these verbs should be categorized as motion verbs, TfS research runs the risk of slipping into inconsistency. To this end, interdisciplinary insights about the behavior of motion verbs in English suggest that SEMANTIC COERCION – the process whereby non-motion verbs are coerced into the expression of motion meanings – merits more attention in TfS research than it currently receives. The notion of MOTIONIZATIONis offered as a first step in this direction.

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