Author Topic: Manner (of motion)  (Read 995 times)

Offline Mirta

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Manner (of motion)
« on: February 20, 2020, 08:23:42 AM »
Hi everyone!
I would need to confront some opinions about the variable of Manner which is so discussed in the field of manner of motion verbs (Talmy 2000, Slobin 2006 among others). My questions are:

- what do you know about Manner other than in motion events? For example, what do you know about Manner in the events of perception (to see, to look, to gaze, to stare...) or in complex events lexicalised in verbs (ex: steal/pinch; reform; take an exam; tell a joke) or lexicalised in deverbal nouns or event nouns (a/the gaze, a/the party, housekeeping)? Do you have any bibliographic reference or you are so kind to explain what do you personally think about that?

- what do you think Manner is? For Talmy, as someone said in my old topic, it is an "empty variable" but, for example, for Moline&Stosic (2016) it is a cluster concept. They analysed the Manner component in motion events and speech events. That is to say that the Manner componet correlates with other semantic components such as: Speed of the Movement, Force of the Movement, Body Position during the Movement, Shape of the Movement, Aimlessness of the Movement or Discreteness of the Speech, Benevolence/Malevolece of the Speech, Exaggeration of the Speech ecc. If Manner is a cluster concept, how can one limit the type and the numebr of the semantic components that correlates with Manner given that each event has different and specific semantic components?

I hope I made myself pretty clear. I know it is also about philosophical and ontological stuff but I really appreciate every single response and suggestion because a confrontation can be fruitful.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Manner (of motion)
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2020, 10:25:27 AM »
Hi and welcome to the forum!

(Background: I research motion events, but not specifically from a Talmy-style perspective.)

Talmy's original proposal was schematic, including several types of motion events. The current usage is rather stripped-down (read: oversimplified) from that, adopting the original schematic labels. Rather than just following from that narrow perspective, I'd recommend following Talmy in looking back at his earlier ideas. There are of course many publications on the topic, but here's a convenient overview from his perspective:
https://sites.google.com/site/coglingwroc3/plenary-lecture
(Unfortunately it looks like at least for the moment the video is not loading from Youtube, so let me know if you want me to try to locate it for you to watch.)

Now regarding the terminology itself, consider especially the terms "verb-framed" vs. "satellite-framed", where "verb-framed" means verbs encode path, while "satellite-framed" means verbs encode manner [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verb_framing]. Thus manner is secondary from the perspective of this typology, but path is specifically defined. Path refers to a clear component of the motion event (=path, direction), while manner refers to more semantically full and variable ideas about how that motion is carried out, including attributes like speed, means/method, style, etc.

I would interpret this to mean that "manner" isn't a generalizable category from motion events to other event types, simply because it's basically the leftovers (or additional information) once path is specified. You could use the term analogically (either generally for 'additional information', or narrowly for 'how/manner') for other event types, but I don't see a clear/unique way to do that. I suppose there's some general relationship between the ideas of "complement" (generally obligatory, core arguments of a verb) and "adjunct" (optional modifiers), if we adjust those concepts from a syntactic to semantic level. So you could try to figure out the core event properties of various event types, then the rest would include "manner" (again, either narrowly or broadly).

Of course there are many other approaches that have proposed ways to analyze event types other than motion, so you might find those more useful for your question. Or you might just choose an analogous approach to Talmy's motion event types that fits your research well-- in that case just be sure to explain your motivation and methodology, and it should be fine.

So in short, your comments about Moline & Stosic (2016) seem appropriate to me. It's a complex concept with various dimensions (maybe not even enumerable). This also brings up a deeper question: what is the point of a typology like this? What kind of claim does it make? Is it purely descriptive so that it is convenient to compare English ("satellite-framed") to Spanish ("verb-framed"), thus highlighting an interesting difference between the languages? Or is it theoretical with some more concrete claim about how language works? Are these categories meant to be cognitive primitives (even part of Universal Grammar)? Or are they emergent? Generally speaking, Talmy's work seems to fit in well with a Cognitive Linguistics approach, which generally takes the perspective that linguistic phenomena are based on perception, experience and cognition, so that they are considered complex and emergent categories, rather than reducible to logical primitives, but at the same time the typology would at least appear to lend itself to a more categorical and absolute distinction between languages, if that works out consistently ("universals" rarely do).
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Offline Mirta

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Re: Manner (of motion)
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2020, 04:57:40 AM »
Hi Daniel. Many thanks for your exhaustive response!
I'll try to answer to your suggestions specifying also what I'm most interested in about Manner.

(What is your research about? What's your perspective? Tell me about it if you want.)

Unfortunately the video doesn't load but I'll have a look at the paper posted.

(You say that "there are many other approaches that have proposed ways to analyze event types other than motion". Could you suggest me some bibliographical references?)

What about the rest.
Let us agree on the fact that Manner, in the syntax-sematics inteface, is represented by the "leftovers", i.e. all the non obligatory arguments of the verb, which are optional and have the function of modifiers of the event expressed.
Let us agree on the fact that Manner is a complex concept that correlates with other semantic categories.

What is the point of my research on Manner?
By analysing some Italian expressions in which there are general quantifiers, I try to explain the existence of a semantic path/semantic shift that goes from vague quantification to mitigation to manner specification.
For example (the highlighted expressions are translated literally):

(1)Non voglio altro che passare il Po: come vedete, un servizio da niente
    (I just want to cross the Po: as you can see, a job of nothing)

(2) Insomma, i soldi ci sono. Convincerli a tirarli fuori? Una cosa da niente.
     (Well, the money is there. Persuade them to get them out? A thing of nothing.

(3) Adesso posso permettermi di disegnare qualcosina in questi due giorni di calma.
     (Now I can afford to draw somethingdiminutive in these two days of calmness).

Of course N [da niente] and 'qualcosina' express a sort of mitigation. But in what does this mitigation of the event consist? What is the semantic contribution of these (among others) quantification modifiers in the expression of an event?

First set of questions: what kind of events are they? To draw, to persuade (or "to reform", "a/the party", "a/the smile" ecc..) how could we decompose them in Talmian terms? Do I need to decompose them looking for their semantic values? Is it possible to analyse them in different terms?

Second set of questions: which feature of the event do the expressions such as N [da niente] and 'qualcosina' modify?
1) They don't quantify anymore (semantic bleaching); 2) they correlate also with Aspectuality, i.e. with the duration of the event (short of fast); 3) they imply that the event is undemanding/non-committing, with a relaxed attitude: how can this meaning be justified in terms of Manner?

I hope I was able to to make it clear enough my doubts.
I'll really appreciate all the responses I can receive from the forum.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2020, 05:13:55 AM by Mirta »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Manner (of motion)
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2020, 09:51:58 AM »
(My research is about the expression of Associated Motion (and Directionals), including in morphology and multi-verb constructions. Sometimes they're considered 'satellites' in a Talmy-style typology but they're a distinct phenomenon from what he has focused on. So I don't really have a personal opinion about the Talmy-style typology, except to say that there are broader issues related to motion events to consider as well, but that's also Talmy's current (and original!) perspective.)

OK, I'll see if I can help you view the video (check your private message inbox).

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(You say that "there are many other approaches that have proposed ways to analyze event types other than motion". Could you suggest me some bibliographical references?)
Hm, this isn't specifically my area, but there is a lot of research about different event types. You can find some just by searching for the event type (assuming you can figure out what it's been called before).
Someone whose work comes to mind is for example: http://web.stanford.edu/~bclevin/pubs.html
And more generally, you might want to look at broad typologies of different verb types in English (and other languages, it's just that English has been studied most), and then following research about specific types. A good starting point for that is for example:
 Levin, B. (1993). English Verb Classes and Alternations: A Preliminary Investigation. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

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First set of questions: what kind of events are they? To draw, to persuade (or "to reform", "a/the party", "a/the smile" ecc..) how could we decompose them in Talmian terms? Do I need to decompose them looking for their semantic values? Is it possible to analyse them in different terms?
Your research sounds interesting. Regarding the specific questions you ask, it seems to me that there's a specific scale indicated by the quantification, such that although "manner" might refer to a variety of things, in this case you're mostly interested in something like "extent" (just using that term descriptively), which could apply to various event types. It would make more sense to me, then, to establish some sort of shared value (e.g. "extent") across event types, rather than trying to look generally at (variable) "manner" across those event types which might happen to include "extent".

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Second set of questions: which feature of the event do the expressions such as N [da niente] and 'qualcosina' modify?
1) They don't quantify anymore (semantic bleaching); 2) they correlate also with Aspectuality, i.e. with the duration of the event (short of fast); 3) they imply that the event is undemanding/non-committing, with a relaxed attitude: how can this meaning be justified in terms of Manner?
Actually, I do think they're still quantifying something. They're minimizing the "extent" of the action. (You'll need to work out exactly how to analyze that, but there's some value of something that is being limited by these expressions.)

By the way, English "a little bit" can work in a very similar way, as in "I'll draw a little bit". I imagine this might not be an uncommon development cross-linguistically, so you might find some useful research published about (or in) another language, to add to your analysis.
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