Motion nouns and their verbal counterparts: a cognitive functional perspective on motion expressions

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of English Communication and Philos


At the centre of my project is the relationship between motion verbs (e.g. leave) and their noun (or nominal) counterparts (e.g. arrival). More specifically, this research will focus on a certain type of nouns (deverbal nouns) which have been derived from verbs.

Whilst literature in the field has often explored the construal of motion in verbs (e.g. Levin 1993), a gap emerges when it comes to motion nouns - this area has been left relatively untouched. Consequently, important questions remain unanswered, as detailed below.

Furthermore, much of the literature around the relationship between motion verbs and their nominal counterparts is contradictory. As noted by Barque et al. (2009:174), there is a well-established assumption in the literature that deverbal nouns often maintain semantic and syntactical elements of their verbal root. However, the verb-deverbal noun relationship is not necessarily so straightforward. Research by Vendler (1967) found that some nouns display semantic features normally attributed to verbs, despite having no verbal base. Additionally, Andreou and Lieber (2019) note that there is no direct link between the aspectual semantics (time-related meanings) of a verb and its deverbal noun counterpart.

With these conflicting accounts in mind, this research sets out to answer the three following research questions:

RQ1: What is the nature of the motion construal (i.e. lexico-grammatical and semantic properties) of motion nouns as opposed to their corresponding verbs?

RQ2: To what extent does the orientation and composition of the verb-noun pair play a role in the distribution of the semantic features between them (e.g. deverbal nouns, denominal verbs, conversion, borrowings)?

RQ3: How can we account for new meanings emerging from the nominal category, both in terms of type and frequency?

In order to answer the above questions, my methodology comprises three parts. First, I will build a dataset by using a large general corpus (e.g. the British National Corpus) and will then extract an estimated 250 concordance lines for approximately 12 motion verb-noun pairs. These pairs will be chosen after reviewing the literature. Then, using diagnostic tests (e.g. Balvet et al.'s 2011), the verb-noun pairs will be analysed for their semantic type.

Secondly, I will add details of the verb-noun pair etymology to the database, followed by a statistical analysis (e.g. regression analysis) to identify semantic patterns based on orientation.

Thirdly, I will turn to potential reasons as to why new meanings arise from the motion nouns, drawing upon both Cognitive Linguistics (e.g. Langacker 1987) and Systemic Functional Linguistics (e.g. Halliday 1985).

When looking at the wider implications of this piece of research, the main areas which this project will appeal to are translation, computational linguistics and second language learning and teaching.



Emma Collier (Student)


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2440561 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Emma Collier