Revising Talmy’s typology of motion events in the light of Chinese
Talmy (1975, 1985, 1991 and 2000b) studies Motion events encoded by verbs from the perspective of lexicalisation(T). Talmy (2000b) proposes six basic semantic elements to describe Motion events; they are Figure, Motion, Path, Ground, Manner, and Cause. For example, in the sentence He entered the room, enter is the main verb and encodes Motion “move” and Path “into”. So the main verb encodes the Path information. Such phenomena are very common in Spanish; however, in English and in Chinese Path is usually expressed by satellites, a category of surface element. Enter is exceptional in English. Although it is a word in English it was borrowed from French. The surface elements which encode the Path information determine a language’s type. For example, if Path is encoded by main verbs in language A, then this language A is a verb-framed language; if Path is typically expressed by satellites in language B, then language B is a satellite-framed language. These are the two most widespread types of languages in this typology. According to Talmy, English is a satellite-framed language (S-framed language); Spanish a verb-framed language (V-framed language); and Chinese a satellite-framed language. Slobin (1996, 1997, 2002, 2004 and 2006) argues that Chinese is an equipollent-framed language (E-framed language), a third language type he added to Talmy’s typology. The evidence for this is the serial verb construction (SVC) in Chinese. SVCs can be briefly defined as a syntactic pattern where two or more verbs are used together to express a single conceptual event and there are no markers of subordination and coordination. Slobin uses feī chū (fly exit) as an example of the SVC and he insists that feī (fly) and chū (exit) share the same grammatical status and are equal to each other in that neither of them can be omitted for a complete expression of the event of flying out. The first verb encodes the Manner information and the latter one expresses the Path information. Omitting either part, the expression is ungrammatical. Having briefly reviewed these two models of language typology, many questions have arisen. Is it necessary to have a third language type to account for Chinese? Or is Chinese an Eframed language or a S-framed language? What is the language typology of Chinese? This is the main research question I aim to answer in this thesis. The main question concerns the nature of Chinese SVCs. In my thesis, I discuss the features of Chinese SVCs as preparation for a working definition of SVC for my empirical work to collect the SVC data from the Lancaster Corpus of Mandarin Chinese (LCMC). I show that the components in Chinese SVCs are not equal in semantics. There are constraints on the positions for different semantic parameters. In addition, the surface forms of components for SVCs do not share equal status for the asymmetrical SVCs. This further shows that components within Chinese SVCs are not in equal grammatical status. My data shows that Path can be encoded by main verbs as well as by satellites in Chinese. Having illustrated that Chinese SVC is not evidence for Chinese to be an E-framed language, then, is Chinese a S-framed language similar to English or a V-framed language like Spanish? Özçalışkan (2004) claims that Path verbs, verbs encoding [Motion + Path], is a closed class. How many Path verbs are there in Chinese and are these Path verbs comparable with those in English and in Spanish? I give a comprehensive list of Chinese Path verbs and then focus on some of them to track the process of the lexicalisation(T). I found that there are no significant differences in number for the 13 types of Path verbs in Chinese, English and Spanish and that the lexicalised(T) Path is comparable. These findings indicate that Chinese uses both main verbs and satellites to express the Path information in motion events. Additionally, the grammaticalization trend of Chinese Path verbs and the shift from independent Path verbs into Path satellites and grammatical relation markers also show that Chinese is not part of any of the parallel system, the split system, or the intermixed system for expressing motion events. Chinese is in the transferring period from a S-framed language to a V-framed language.