Volume 42, Issue 4
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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This paper reports on a corpus-based study aimed at reexamining the typological status and diachronic change of motion expressions in Chinese, drawing on parallel texts consisting of autonomous motion expressions in Old Chinese (OC) and its Modern Chinese (MoC) translation. The results show that MoC significantly differs from OC both in the preference of lexicalization patterns (Talmyan typology) and semantic components distributed in discourse (Slobinian typology) when narrating similar motion scenes. However, these results fail to support the viewpoint that Chinese has undergone a change from a verb- to a satellite-frame (Li 1993Talmy 2000Peyraube 2006Shi & Wu 2014). It is argued that (i) the Talmyan typology and the Slobinian typology should be treated separately. In Talmyan typology, the diachrony of Chinese demonstrates the change of a V- to a parallel-frame, in that satellite- and verb-framed constructions in MoC have equal frequency and show no bias for the encoding of subtypes of autonomous motion. In Slobinian typology, MoC remains as a Path-salient language, as it gives considerable weight to the expression of Path; (ii) the dominant lexicalization pattern in a language varies from one sub-domain of motion to another (see also Lamarre 2003), and thus the typology of motion expressions is sub-domain-specific; and (iii) motivating forces and blocking forces, furthermore, co-exist diachronically for the typological evolution of motion encoding due to the idiosyncrasy of the morphosyntactic system.


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