Manipulating Manner: Semantic Representations of Human Locomotion Verbs in English and German


It has been argued that real-world structure constrains the semantic representations of verbs, resulting in cross-linguistic convergence of naming patterns for motion events. This study explores the nature of this real-world structure by manipulating individual features of human locomotion in video stimuli and comparing the responses of English and German speakers in an elicitation task. We show that individual features influence naming patterns and that languages encode these features differently. Furthermore, the semantic representations of several German motion verbs sharply contrast with their English equivalents.

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