Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000
4.3. An Alternative to the Typology
In this section a different account of the facts that
Talmy’s typology tried to explain will be sought.
4.3.1. Event Conflation
Event conflation is one of the fundamental ideas behind
Talmy’s typology. A directed motion event is often presented in language
conflated with another concurrent event. Talmy looked at this conflation
considering only the partial view of the representation in language from
the perspective of the directed motion event. From this perspective English
and Spanish seem to differ radically, and that apparent difference is what
Talmy’s typology highlighted. But if a broader perspective is adopted,
treating the two events equally, it will become evident that the two languages
behave basically in the same fashion.
In order to adopt a broader perspective, all the possible
conflations of the two events will be examined. Consider a state of affairs
with two simultaneous events: a directed motion event in which a figure
moves from point A to point B, or simply following a trajectory not bounded
by any definite source or goal, and another event that happens to be concomitant
to the motion and also affects the moving figure. Speakers who want to
refer to the two events in such a state of affairs can do it in different
ways. Depending on their communicative needs, constraints and desires,
they can report the state of affairs from the perspective of the motion
event or from the perspective of the other event. In the first case, the
motion event will be the event they will be talking about, and the other
will be subordinated to it, although its communicative function will be
relevant as well because it will describe some particular characteristic,
the concurrent event, that the speaker deems relevant. Speakers can also
decide to present the state of affairs from the perspective of the other
event. In this case the directed motion will be a supporting event. Finally,
the state of affairs can be presented from the perspective of the two events
simultaneously. Instead of viewing these three possibilities as discrete,
it is better to conceive them as a continuum going from taking the perspective
of the directed motion event to taking the perspective of the other event.
A few examples will illustrate the possibilities. In both
languages it is possible to say sentences such as the following:
(4.10) She smoked all the way from London to New York.
todo el camino de Londres a Nueva York.
(4.11) She smoked from London to New York.
Fumó de Londres a Nueva York.
The last two sentences might not sound very natural,
but this is because of the punctual character of the past tense, which
does not go very well with the duration introduced by the prepositional
phrases. If the tense is changed to the progressive, they are much better:
(4.12) She was smoking from London to New York.
fumando de Londres a Nueva York.
was (perfective) smoking from London to New York
In these sentences there is a conflation of a motion
event and a smoking event. The speaker has chosen to take the perspective
of the latter and to use the former only as a supporting event, which in
this case is playing the role of bounding the smoking event, indicating,
amongst other things, its duration. In this type of conflation both languages
behave in the same way.
It is not necessary to have both the source and the
goal of the motion event in the sentence. To have both is preferred because
the motion is introduced very indirectly. Nevertheless, it is possible
to find sentences with just one. Spanish preposition hasta (up to)
can be used for this purpose. When followed by a location hasta
serves to introduce a directed motion event with almost any predicate:
(4.14) Estuvo fumando hasta Nueva York
3rd was smoking up to New York
‘She was smoking all the
way to New York.’
(4.15) Estuvo leyendo hasta Madrid
3rd was reading up to Madrid
‘She was reading all the way to Madrid’
(4.16) Estuvo lloviendo hasta Madrid
‘It was raining all the way to Madrid’
(4.17) Estuvo bailando hasta su casa
‘She was dancing all the way home’
Again the motion event is introduced surreptitiously
just to fulfill the ancillary function of placing a boundary, an end-point
in this case, to the activity that is being referred to. The directed motion
event can be introduced even more indirectly, its trajectory becoming just
the place where the other event happens. For that function, English uses
the expression on the way to and Spanish the pseudo-preposition
(4.18) I will do it on the way to the station
(4.19) Lo haré camino de la estación
In these sentences the motion event has almost disappeared.
It serves the ancillary function of determining the location where the
other event takes place. Again, the topic of the conversation is not the
The second possibility available to the speaker is to
take the perspective of the motion event. In that case, once more, the
two languages will demonstrate the same behavior: a motion verb in the
main clause, with the other simultaneous event in a subordinated position.
This does not imply that the subordinated event is informationally less
relevant than the other. The only claim is that when taking the perspective
of the motion event, the topic of the utterance is the directed motion:
(4.20) She always goes to work smiling/ smoking / reading
(4.21) Siempre va al trabajo sonriendo/fumando /leyendo
The only difference between the two languages is that
whereas Spanish has developed a whole set of motion verbs (the path verbs)
for this function, English has to rely on a few general motion verbs which,
combined with the particles, specify the path:
(4.22) she came in smiling/ smoking / reading / running.
Ella entró sonriendo/fumando
/leyendo / corriendo.
(4.23) she went out smiling/ smoking / reading / running.
Ella salió sonriendo/fumando
/leyendo / corriendo.
(4.24) she came up smiling/ smoking / reading / running.
Ella subió sonriendo/fumando
/leyendo / corriendo.
(4.25) she came down smiling/ smoking / reading / running.
Ella bajó sonriendo/fumando
/leyendo / corriendo.
(4.26) she came across smiling/ smoking / reading / running.
Ella cruzó sonriendo/fumando
/leyendo / corriendo.
(4.27) she got home smiling/ smoking / reading / running.
Ella llegó a casa
sonriendo/fumando /leyendo / corriendo.
The claim is that in all of these sentences the speaker
has chosen to talk about the state of affairs from the perspective of the
directed motion event. This does not mean that the other mentioned event
is not informationally relevant. In fact, because it is in the last position
of the sentence, it would be usually focused upon, and the information
it introduces, foregrounded.
The final possibility is to take the perspective of
the two events simultaneously. For that, the two events should be related
by more than just mere coincidence in time and place. Probably, the relevant
relationship is the part-whole relationship. The non-motion event has to
be a part of the motion event for this type of conflation to take place.
But again, the two languages do this in the same way, by placing the directed
motion event in a satellite to the verb, and the other (part-of) event
in the verbal slot. Thus, parallel constructions in English and Spanish
(4.28) She ran home.
Ella corrió a su casa
(4.29) She flew from Seville to London via Madrid
Ella voló de Sevilla
a Londres vía Madrid
(4.30) Sylvester rolled downhill
In these examples, the speaker is presenting the state
of affairs from the perspective of the two events, the displacement and
the concurrent manner. Of course, the speaker has the choice of modulating
the two events, as, for example, with the kind of manner modulation through
gestures that was observed among English speakers, by which they could
highlight the manner component with a manner gesture or downplay it with
some other type of gesture. Thus, a cline or gradient going from taking
the perspective of the directed motion event to taking the perspective
of the other event is available to the speakers of both languages.
What, then, is the difference between English and Spanish
with regards to how they refer to directed motion events? It is a matter
of extent of usage of one possibility or another. Whereas Spanish employs
mainly the second strategy, viewing the event from the perspective of the
directed motion, and has developed a whole set of path verbs to express
it, English uses mainly the third option, presenting the state of affairs
from the perspective of the two events, and lets a large number of verbs
indicating some aspect of the motion occupy the verbal slot (see section
below for the
English classes of verbs allowed). Although the number of verbs that can
occupy this position is significantly smaller in Spanish, it remains a
fact that the majority of verbs in both
languages cannot be placed
in that position, and one of the two other perspectives will have to be
adopted. The following unacceptable examples from Levin and Rappaport Hovav
(1995: 197) make this manifest:
(4.31) *Kelly laughed out of the room.
(cf. Kelly went out of the
(4.32) *Dorothy sang out of the room.
went out of the room singing.)
(4.33) *Terry swore out of the room.
went out of the room swearing.)
(4.34) *Mildred exercised into the room.
(cf. Mildred went
into the room exercising.)
(4.35) *Kim hesitated out of
(cf. Kim went out of the
Notice that in all of these sentences, the English speaker
could have adopted the perspective of the non-motion event, uttering a
sentence such as the following:
(4.36) Kelly laughed (while) going out of the room.
English has another possibility via the Possessive +
construction, as illustrated in the following examples:
(4.37) Kelly laughed her way out of the room. (Levin
and Rappaport Hovav 1995: 198)
(4.38) Sam joked his way into the meeting. (Jackendoff
(4.39) We ate our way across the U.S. (Jackendoff 1990:
This construction is very productive and is not restricted
to a narrow class of verbs. Levin and Rappaport Hovav (1995: 198-9) illustrate
its productivity with the following examples:
(4.40) The candidate was in the provinces, plotting
and planning and dreaming his way to the nomination.
(4.41) Corporate executives wined, dined and golfed their way to a record
$36.53 billion in expense account spending.
(4.42) . . . Louis Rukeyser grins and winks his way into the homes of
10 million television viewers every Friday.
(4.43) . . . hoping to whistlestop his way to reelection.
The last example even involves a denominal verb with
a compound base. Even verbs of manner of movement can appear in this construction.
This fact originates contrasts such as the following, pointed out by Jackendoff
44) a. Willy jumped into
b. Willy jumped his way
into Harriet’s arms.
While (a) suggests a single jump, (b) connotes several
jumps. In terms of the perspective of event conflation discussed here,
it could be argued that these examples occupy different positions in the
cline going from taking the perspective of the directed motion to taking
the perspective of the concomitant manner of motion. While (a), as seen
above, would be in-between, (b) would be closer to taking the perspective
of the concomitant jumping event, since the jumping is protracted over
time. This last statement needs some qualification because it does not
take into account possible shifts brought about by the absent intonation
and gesture. Moreover, it does not consider the polysemous nature of the
Possessive + way
construction, which can have both a manner and,
much more frequently, a means interpretation (see section 6.2.3
below for a more extensive account of this construction and for the difference
between the means and manner sense). Spanish does not have an equivalent
construction for the English Possessive + way
would have to use the expression: abrirse camino
+ manner adverbial.
Nevertheless, the crucial point is that both languages
make use of the same mechanisms, namely, the verb and the directional Prepositional
Phrase to express directed motion. The difference between the two languages
could be reduced to a lexical difference, with Spanish presenting a large
number of frequently used path verbs, which pre-empt the use of the alternative
with a manner verb and a directional, which remains an infrequent possibility
in Spanish. Conversely, it could be defended that English presents a larger
class of frequently used manner of motion verbs, and a larger class of
frequently used directional prepositions and particles. Supporting this
hypothesis is the fact that English presents significantly more manner
verbs than Spanish, not only in the class of motion verbs, but in most
other classes of verbs as well.
In the first part of this study, Talmy’s typological
claims with regard to how English and Spanish express directed motion has
been examined. Although the difference between the two languages in this
area has been acknowledged, an underlying similarity has been proposed.
The two use basically the same mechanisms to express directionality: the
verb and the directional phrase. In the second part, the contribution of
both mechanisms to lexical semantics and to the mapping to syntax will
be analyzed. Since most of the work in this area has been carried out for
English, English will be the main focus of this analysis. Nevertheless,
most of the ideas developed apply to Spanish as well.
It should be noted that the OED gives the following motion sense
for hesitate, “to move in an indecisive, faltering manner”, and illustrates
it with an example, written by H.G.Wells in 1908, quite similar to (4.35):
hesitated towards the door of the cabin.
capítulo 4 I Índice
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000