Weaving the web of meaning

Luna Filipovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Talmy’s (1985) typology proposes a classification of languages on the basis of their lexicalization patterns. All languages exhibit the tendency to code either manner or path of motion in the verb, and thus are divided accordingly into two main typological groups. The fact that languages code components of a motion event differently is therefore not a novelty, and it is only the point of departure in this paper. The aim here is to account for why these differences in lexicalization may occur. Many, if not all, languages make use of both patterns in expressions of motion events, and the reasons why one is more prominent and favoured than the other and on what occasions is the subject of the present discussion. Extensive data from Serbian/Croatian is presented in a contrastive setting in order to highlight the claim that the typology is best seen as a cline rather than a dichotomy. Two original hypotheses that explain the use of patterns in Serbian/Croatian are put forward, with the possibility to apply them further in analyses of other languages. It will be observed that the mechanism of lexicalization can be explained only after all the levels where meaning is conveyed in a language, namely morphology, syntax and semantics, are subjected to an analysis in a unifying fashion. Moreover, a network of the crucial spatial and temporal parameters is suggested here in order to distinguish event types and determine the language-specific means that reflect those event differences. Particular attention has been paid to a phase in motion events termed moment-of-change, which is notably absent from the relevant discussions in the literature. Another important contribution is the emphasis on the importance of deixis in the lexicalization of motion events, which has not been given the attention it deserves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-175
Number of pages25
JournalLanguages in Contrast
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Cite this