Volume 14, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X
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This study examines the conceptual semantics of human locomotion verbs in two languages – English and German – using the Natural Semantic Metalanguage approach. Based on linguistic evidence, it proposes semantic explications for English walk and run, and their nearest counterparts in German, i.e. laufen (in two senses, roughly, ‘run’ and ‘go by walking’), rennen (roughly, ‘run quickly’), gehen (roughly, ‘go/walk’), and the expression zu Fuß gehen (roughly, ‘go on foot’). Somewhat surprisingly for such closely related languages, the conceptual semantics turns out to be significantly different in the two languages, particularly in relation to manner-of-motion. On the other hand, it is shown that the same four-part semantic template (with sections Lexicosyntactic Frame, Prototypical Scenario, Manner, and Potential Outcome) applies in both languages. We consider the implications for systematic contrastive semantics and for lexical typology.


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