Lexical splits in the encoding of motion events from Archaic to Classical Greek

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This chapter explores diachronic evidence from Ancient Greek as a source of data on the categorization of motion verbs. Over its recorded history, Ancient Greek undergoes a change in the dominant goal-encoding strategy: from Homer to Classical Greek, it gradually develops into a consistently satellite-framed language. The study investigates statistical differences in the way the change affected individual verbs, suggesting that three major verb classes should be distinguished: verbs of self-propelled motion, verbs of externally caused motion, and verbs encoding a change of configuration. Change-of-configuration verbs, in particular, are shown to follow a peculiar pattern of development that ultimately leads to the rise, in Classical Greek, of a “lexical split” similar to the one attested in modern Russian.


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