ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000

6.1. English Verbs in Directed Motion Sentences

An important piece of evidence in favor of an alternative to the lexicalist or projectionist view comes from the wide range and large number of verbs that can appear taking a directional phrase and forming directed motion sentences in English. From this evidence it can be argued that, instead of being the meaning of the verb the one determining the argument structure of the sentence, the verb simply occupies the syntactically necessary verbal position. The directional construction would then determine the overall shape and meaning of this type of sentence.

The classes of verbs that follow are taken from Levin’s (1993) classification of English verbs and its alternations. Levin (1993: 105-6) lists five classes of nondirected verbs as susceptible to appear with directional phrases, namely: verbs of sound emission, Run verbs, renamed as ‘Agentive Verbs of Manner of Motion’ in Levin and Rappaport Hovav (1995: 282), Waltz verbs, verbs of body-internal motion, and Push/Pull verbs. But as can be observed below, there are many more classes and verbs that can take a directional phrase.

The largest class is the verbs of manner of motion (class number 51.3 in Levin 1993). Levin distinguishes two sub-classes: Roll verbs, and Run verbs:1

(6.1) Roll Verbs (Levin 1993: 51.3.1: 264-65)
bounce, drift, drop, float, glide, move, roll, slide, swing
Motion Around an Axis: coil, revolve, rotate, spin, turn, twirl, twist, whirl, wind.
These verbs relate to manners of motion characteristic of inanimate entities, that is, where there is no protagonist control on the part of the moving entity. A verb of this class, not listed by Levin, is spiral (Garrudo 1996). Another is writhe, "to move or proceed with twists and turns" (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.), as in the following example from a poem by Ted Hughes:
(6.2) a motley viper that writhed out of the grave of your wardrobe ("The Rag Rug" New Yorker Aug. 1996)
In the absence of the directional phrase none of these verbs indicate the direction of motion. Many of those that describe motion around an axis take a restricted set of prepositions indicating the path of motion.
What Levin (1993) called Run verbs and Levin and Rappaport Hovav (1995: 282) later renamed agentive verbs of manner of motion is the largest and most important class. It encompasses verbs which describe the manners in which animate entities can move. Although they usually imply displacement, no specific direction is implied without the directional:
(6.3) Agentive Verbs of Manner of Motion: (Levin 1993: 51.3.2: 265-66)
amble, backpack, bolt, bounce, bound, bowl, canter, carom, cavort, charge, clamber, climb, clump, coast, crawl, creep, dart, dash, dodder, drift , file, flit float, fly, frolic, gallop, gambol, glide, goosestep, hasten, hike, hobble, hop, hurry, hurtle, inch, jog, journey, jump, leap, limp, lollop, lope, lumber, lurch, march, meander, mince, mosey, nip, pad, parade, perambulate, plod, prance, promenade, prowl, race, ramble, roam, roll, romp, rove, run, rush, sashay, saunter, scamper, scoot, scram, scramble, scud, scurry, scutter, scuttle, shamble, shuffle, sidle, skedaddle, skip, skitter, skulk, sleepwalk, slide, slink, slither, slog, slouch, sneak, somersault, speed, stagger, stomp, stray, streak, stride, stroll, strut, stumble, stump, swagger, sweep, swim, tack, tear, tiptoe, toddle, totter, traipse, tramp, travel, trek, troop, trot, trudge, trundle, vault, waddle, wade, walk, wander, whiz, zigzag, zoom.
Levin lists 125, but even a casual examination of a good dictionary shows that there are many more. The following verbs from Garrudo (1991 and 1996) can also be included in this class:
(6.4)barge, blow, break, burn, cruise, crush, drop, leapfrog, sag, schuss, scorch, scrape, scuff, shin, shoot, shove, shuttle, slip, snake, spank, spring, sprint, stamp, steal, steam, steer, step, storm, stream, struggle, surge, swing, throng, thrust, tobbogan, toil, tootle, whirl.
And from Merriam-Webster, one can draw lurk (to move furtively or inconspicuously), pound ("to move along heavy or persistently" in one of its transitive senses, but "to move with or make a heavy repetitive noise" in one of its intransitive senses) and dawdle (to move lackadaisically: dawdled up the hill).
Verbs of motion involving a vehicle also constitute a large class in English:
(6.5) Verbs of Motion using a vehicle: (Levin 1993: 51.4: 267-68)
Vehicle names (51.4.1):
balloon, bicycle, bike, boat, bobsled, bus, cab, canoe, caravan, chariot, coach, cycle, dogsled, ferry, gondola, helicopter, jeep, jet, kayak, moped, motor, motorbike, motorcycle, parachute, punt, raft, rickshaw, rocket, skate, skateboard, ski, sled, sledge, sleigh, taxi, toboggan, tram, trolley, yacht.
Verbs that are not vehicle names (51.4.2):
    cruise, drive, fly, oar, paddle, pedal, ride, row, sail, tack.
This class of verbs is very prone to incorporate new members through neological processes, in particular by conversion or zero derivation of a noun into a verb. In fact, the name of almost any vehicle with some special trait can be converted into a verb meaning to travel by means of that vehicle. This fact had been previously pointed out by Clark and Clark (1979). They gave the following list of what they called instrument verbs, because they encoded the instrument participant in the motion. The + sign indicates neologisms:
(6.6) Instrument Verbs:
auto, +sports-car, caravan, +trailer, +tractor, +cablecar, +tram, +trolley, +streetcar, scooter, motorcycle, bicycle, bike, cycle, +tricycle, +van, +cab, taxi, +jitney, +Greyhound, +Buick, +V-8, +limousine, +elevator, +escalator (somewhere); boat, +sailboat, +steamship, +Queen Mary, yacht, punt, +flatboat, +lighter, barge, raft, canoe, kayak (somewhere); jet, +747, +Concorde, sailplane, +glider, helicopter, +chopper, +Zeppelin, balloon, parachute, +TWA, +UA, +Air California, rocket (somewhere); sleigh, sledge, sled, ski, +t-bar, skate, roller-skate, +pogo-stick, +skateboard, water-ski, surfboard, snowshoe (somewhere); pole, +barge-pole, paddle, +oar, scull, +ski-pole, +ice-pick, +pickax, pedal (somewhere); +rope, +crampon (one's way somewhere); sail, wing, steam, motor (somewhere); +subway to 64th Street, +BART to Berkeley, thumb to LA, surf onto shore, +whirlwind across the US, +guitar one's way across the US, +the police sirened up to the accident; (tr.) +ambulance, truck, bus, +trailer, wagon, cart, +pushcart, +barrow, +stretcher, wheelbarrow (something somewhere); telegraph, telephone, wire, cable, +long-distance, +postcard, +semaphore, +flag, radio, beam (a message somewhere); +satellite (news); paddle the canoe, pedal the bicycle; wheel the patient into surgery, sail the boat to LA, pipe the oil to Oregon, +tanker the oil to the US.
Almost all of these verbs can be built with a directional phrase. Clark and Clark point out that two striking exceptions are the nouns for car and plane, which have not given rise to the corresponding verbs. The authors point out that this might be due to a process of pre-emption because the language already has drive and fly to express those meanings. The Oxford Dictionary of New Words (ODNW) presents a similar verb, exocet, with the meaning "to move as if hit by a missile, to rocket" (ODNW, 1991: 107). It illustrates this sense with the following example:
(6.7) I presented the bristle end of a broom to the back end of the pony, which exoceted up the ramp into the trailer.
Clark and Clark even present verbs of motion that derive from the names of animals:
(6.8) Verbs from names of animals:
squirrel away the money, chicken out of a fight, snake through the cars, hare down the road, rabbit along at 90 miles an hour, moused along the parkside, cat it up the waterpipe.
These verbs mean to move in a manner that is characteristic of the animal in question.
Verbs that mean to dance in different manners can also be built with directional phrases in English:
(6.9) Waltz Verbs (Levin 1993: 51.5: 268-9)
boogie, bop, cancan, clog, conga, dance, foxtrot, jig, jitterbug, jive, pirouette, polka, quickstep, rumba, samba, shuffle, squaredance, tango, tapdance, waltz.
These verbs usually come from the names of dances. In fact, the name of any dance can be turned into a verb in English. Their meaning involves motion, but it does not indicate directed motion unless it appears with a directional. As an example Levin gives:
(6.10) The couple waltzed to the window.
They do not appear very frequently in this pattern because situations in which dancing is used as a manner of directed motion are not very common.
Another class of verbs that entail displacement when constructed with a directional phrase are the verbs of body-internal motion:
(6.11) Verbs of Body-Internal Motion (Levin 1993: 49: 261)
buck, fidget, flap, gyrate, kick, rock, squirm, sway, teeter, totter, twitch, waggle, wiggle, wobble, wriggle.
Levin gives the following examples to illustrate the possibility of a directional phrase with these verbs:
(6.12) Sylvia wriggled out of her seat
(6.13) The sick man wobbled down the stairs
Levin also lists the verbs of exerting force (Push/Pull Verbs) as verbs that can take a directional phrase:
(6.14) Push/Pull Verbs: (Levin 1993: 12: 137)
?draw, heave, jerk, press, pull, push, shove, ?thrust, tug, yank.
She presents them as non-directed motion verbs. Nevertheless, the deictic meaning of pull and push seems to be indicating directionality on its own. Levin gives the following example:
(6.15) Leona pushed the cart to the market.
Another class of verbs that can take a directional phrase are verbs of throwing:
(6.16) Verbs of throwing (Levin 1993: 17: 146)
bash, bat, bunt, ?cast, catapult, chuck, fire (projectile), flick, fling, flip, hit (ball), hurl, kick (ball), knock, lob, ?loft, nudge, pass, pitch, punt, shoot (projectile), shove, slam, slap, sling, smash, tap, throw, tip, toss.
Levin illustrates this use with the following sentences:
(6.17) a. Steve tossed the ball over the fence/into the garden
b. Steve tossed the ball from the tree to the gate.
As she points out, these verbs have been described as verbs of "instantaneously causing ballistic motion" by imparting a force. When the Goal of the motion is an animate entity they participate in the Double object alternation, as in the following examples from den Dikken (1995: 156):
(6.18) a. John threw the book to Bill / John threw Bill the book
b. John flung the book to Bill / John flung Bill the book
c. John flicked the ball to Bill / John flicked Bill the ball
d. John flicked the coin to Bill / John flicked Bill the coin
In this, they differ from some of the verbs of the previous class which denote motion that requires continuous imparting of force:
(6.19) a. John pulled the trunk to Bill / * John pulled Bill the trunk
b. John pushed the trunk to Bill / * John pushed Bill the trunk
c. John dragged the sack to Bill / * John dragged Bill the sack
d. John schlepped the box to Bill /* John schlepped Bill the box
These verbs do not turn up in the Double Object construction.
Another class of verbs is formed by what Levin calls Verbs of Sending and Carrying. Levin (1993: 11: 132-7) subdivides them into the following subclasses:
(6.20) Send Verbs (11.1)
airmail, convey, deliver, dispatch, express, FedEx, forward, hand, mail, pass, port, post, return, send, shift, ship, shunt, slip, smuggle, sneak, transfer, transport, UPS.

(6.21) Slide Verbs (11.2)
bounce, float, move, roll, slide.

(6.22) bring, take. (11.3)

(6.23) Carry Verbs (11.4)
carry, drag, haul, heave, heft, hoist, kick, lug, pull, push, schlep, shove, tote, tow, tug.

(6.24) Drive Verbs (11.5)
barge, bus, cart, drive, ferry, fly, row, shuttle, truck, wheel, wire (money).

As examples of these verbs in directed motion sentences, Levin offers:
(6.25) a. Amanda carried/[sent]/drove the package from Boston to New York.
b. Carla slid the books across the table.
c. Nora brought the book from home.
Bring and take are different from the rest in that they include a deictic component in their meaning, and in that they lack any sense of manner. For this reason they are considered the ‘causative’ counterparts of come and go.
Two other classes of verbs are the Chase verbs and the Accompany verbs:
(6.26) Chase Verbs (Levin 1993: 51.6: 269)
chase, follow, pursue, shadow, tail, track, trail.

(6.27) Accompany Verbs (Levin 1993: 51.7: 270)
accompany, conduct, escort, guide, lead, shepherd.

As examples with directional phrases, Levin presents:
(6.28) Jackie chased the thief down the street.
(6.29) Jackie accompanied Rose to the store.
These verbs involve two participants following the same route.
Meander verbs are another class of verbs that also take directional phrases. They are peculiar in that they are used to describe the location of a long continuous object such as a road or a river, that is, they do not express real motion but at most a type of fictive motion (see Talmy 1996).
(6.30) Meander Verbs (Levin 1993: 47.7: 256)
cascade, climb, crawl, cut, drop, go, meander, plunge, run, straggle, stretch, sweep, tumble, turn, twist, wander, weave, wind.
The examples Levin offers are the following:
(6.31) The river runs from the lake to the sea.
(6.32) The stream winds/twists/crawls through the valley.
Dowty (1979) has described these verbs as "pseudo-motional locative" verbs.
The Verbs of Putting (9) and Removing (10) constitute large classes with many subclasses (Levin 1993: 111-32). But although they certainly imply the movement of an object that is placed in/on/at, or removed from, a location, it is doubtful whether they include a directional complement. Most of them involve only a locative without any directionality implied. Nevertheless, it is extremely difficult to draw the boundary between pure location and directionality. Some of the subclasses that seem to involve directionality are the following:
(6.33) Funnel Verbs (Levin 1993: 9.3: 113)
bang, channel, dip, dump, funnel, hammer, ladle, pound, push, rake, ram, scoop, scrape, shake, shovel, siphon, spoon, squeeze, squish, squash, sweep, tuck, wad, wedge, wipe, wring.
They refer to the placing of an entity in some spatially confined location in a specific manner. They show preference for into or onto rather than in or on. This is why they are listed here, because into and onto are generally used to indicate directionality.
(6.34) Verbs of Putting with a Specified Direction (Levin 1993: 9.4: 114)
drop, hoist, lift, lower, raise.
They clearly can be built with directional phrases, as the following examples from Levin attest:
(6.35) I lifted the book onto the table/out of the box.
(6.36) I lifted the books from the floor to the table.
In fact, they are inherently directed motion verbs.
(6.37) Pour Verbs (Levin 1993: 9.5: 115)
Dribble, drip, pour, slop, slosh, spew, spill, spurt.
The following examples seem to imply directionals:
(6.38) Tamara poured water into the bowl/over the flowers.
(6.39) Tamara poured water from/out of the pitcher.
They refer to putting things (typically liquids) on surfaces or in containers.
(6.40) Spray/Load Verbs (Levin 1993: 9.7: 117-8)
brush, cram, crowd, cultivate, dab, daub, drape, drizzle, dust, hang, heap, inject, jam, load, mound, pack, pile, plant, plaster, ?prick, pump, rub, scatter, seed, settle, sew, shower, slather, smear, smudge, sow, spatter, splash, splatter, spray, spread, sprinkle, spritz, squirt, stack, stick, stock, strew, string, stuff, swab, ?vest, ?wash, wrap.
Examples with directionals are the following:
(6.41) a. Jessica loaded boxes onto/into/under the wagon.
b. Jessica sprayed paint onto/under/over the table.
These verbs have received considerable attention in the literature, especially regarding their participation in the so-called locative alternation, which seems to change their meaning slightly. The sentences below are examples of this alternation:
(6.42) a. Jessica loaded boxes on the wagon.
b. Jessica loaded the wagon with boxes.

(6.43) a. Jessica sprayed paint on the wall.

b. Jessica sprayed the wall with paint.
In the (b) sentences, there is the implication that the whole container/surface is affected.
So far all the verbs considered encoded motion in their meaning. If they constituted an exhaustive inventory, there would be no reason then for the alternative constructional account, since it could be argued that their directed motion uses would be simply extensions from their motion meaning. But there are many other verbs appearing with directional phrases, whose meanings are only indirectly connected to movement. Verbs of sound emission figure prominently among them:
(6.44) Verbs of sound emission (119 in Levin 1993: 43.2: 234-5):
babble, bang, beat, beep, bellow, blare, blast, blat, bleat, boom, bubble, burble, burr, buzz, chatter, chime, chink, chir, chitter, chug, clack, clang, clank, clap, clash, clatter, click, cling, clink, clomp, clump, clunk, crack, crackle, crash, creak, crepitate, crunch, cry, ding, dong, explode, fizz, fizzle, groan, growl, gurgle, hiss, hoot, howl, hum, jangle, jingle, knell, knock, lilt, moan, murmur, patter, peal, ping, pink, pipe, plink, plonk, plop, plunk, pop, purr, putter, rap, rasp, rattle, ring, roar, roll, rumble, rustle, scream, screech, shriek, shrill, sing, sizzle, snap, splash, splutter, sputter, squawk, squeak, squeal, squelch, strike, swish, swoosh, thrum, thud, thump, thunder, thunk, tick, ting, tinkle, toll, tootle, trill, trumpet, twang, ululate, vroom, wail, wheeze, whine, whir, whish, whistle, whoosh, whump, zing.
These verbs can be built with a directional phrase only if the sound is caused by the movement or if the motion is characterized by the concomitant emission of the sound. Thus, the contrast below:
(6.45) * Mary whistled into the room. (with the meaning that she was whistling while she entered the room)

(6.46) The bullet whistled into the room.

In this last sentence, whistle refers to the sound that the bullet produces in its rapid motion.
The verb encodes the particular nature of the sound, or the manner in which it is produced. Levin and Rappaport (1995: 189-90) offer the following examples:
(6.47) a. . . . the elevator wheezed upward.
b. At that moment, a flatbed track bearing a load of steel rumbled through the gate.
c. The kettle clashed across the metal grid.
Not all the verbs of sound emission can express directed motion. In particular, when agentive, they do not readily show up with directionals:
(6.48) a. * He yelled down the street.
    (cf. He yelled his way down the street.)
b. * She shouted down the street.
    (cf. She shouted her way down the street.)
c. *The frogs croaked to the pond.
    (cf. The frogs croaked their way to the pond)
But as Levin and Rappaport Hovav (1995: 190) point out, sometimes they are found with both animate subjects and directionals:
(6.49) a. . . . Sedgwick often clanked into town in sabre and spurs from the cavalry camp.
b. She rustled out of the room without waiting for a word from Lind.
But the contrast between (6.48) and (6.49) is that whereas in (6.48) the sounds are emitted by the articulatory organs, in (6.49) they are emitted by accessories or clothes that the animate subject is wearing while moving.
The most interesting verbs are those that appear with directional phrases without encoding any motion in their meaning. The following examples illustrate some of these verbs:
(6.50) We started into/across/ out of the room.
(6.51) I will let you into my apartment.

(6.52) She asked me out of her apartment

(6.53) She invited me up into her apartment.

(6.54) I will help you out of the building.

(6.55) I saw them out of the house

(6.56) They continued into town.

(6.57) He hesitated towards the door of the cabin. (OED)

(6.58) The organ played the congregation out (Collins English/Spanish Dictionary)

See section 6.2.1 below for many other verbs like these. In Old English, Middle English and Early Modern English, this list was even larger, for what today are considered modal verbs could appear in this construction, as the following example from Hamlet attests:
(6.59) I must to England now
Scholars tend to interpret that there is an elided verb "go", but a more plausible view is that these verbs can simply show up with a directional element to refer to a directed motion event, behaving like the classes dicussed above. In German and Dutch, the equivalents to English modal verbs can still be used with directional phrases without an intervening motion verb.
Another verb that nowadays does not readily appear with a directional phrase but that in earlier times could appear with them is the verb make, as the following example from the OED attests:
(6.60) a. I made steadily but slowly towards them.
b. Let us make home the best we can.
None of these verbs encode motion in their meaning, nevertheless, they turn up in directed motion sentences. They are the strongest piece of evidence to question the view that the syntactic structure of directed motion sentences is a projection of the lexical properties of the verbs, since it would be implausible to defend a lexical entry involving motion for these verbs. The alternative would be to postulate that there are directed motion constructions with directional phrases which license certain verbs to refer to the particular ways or the concomitant circumstances in which the directed motion happened.
A recent article by Jackendoff (1997) has brought to the fore the two competing hypotheses, the lexicalist and the constructional. He proposes a constructional account for what he calls the Time-away construction illustrated in the following example:
(6.61) He slept the whole state of Nebraska away.
The meaning and syntactic structure of this sentence cannot be derived from the lexical entry of the verb sleep. The meaning of the sentence is that the person involved was sleeping the whole time it took whatever vehicle s/he was travelling in to cross the state of Nebraska. Jackendoff (1997) still defends a lexicalist approach for motion sentences in general. Nevertheless, other authors have postulated a constructional account for directed motion. In fact, the following section will review the most articulate and influential of these proposals, Goldberg’s (1995). In particular, the three constructions involving directed motion that Goldberg established will be discussed at length and will be contrasted with lexicalist alternatives.


1  The reference to the class will be given  with both Levin’s (1993) class and page numbers.
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ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000