Studying motion in Australian languages

Author : David Wilkins, David Nash and Jane Simpson

Publication date : 1998

Bibliographical references :


Wilkins, David, Nash, David and Simpson, Jane. 1998. "Questionnaire on Motion in Australian Languages".


"The purpose of this questionnaire is to gain a first comparative picture of the lexical resources Australian languages draw on for the expression of motion, and the manner in which motion descriptions are "packaged". [...] We will assume a "pretheoretical" understanding of what constitutes a motion event and a motion description. In this questionnaire, the primary focus is on "translocational motion" (i.e.change of location of an entity along a path from one place to another). We further restrict our focus to motion descriptions in which the Subject argument of a verb (in an active clause) is the entity ('figure') in motion (an accompanying entity may also be in motion, but that is not our focus of interest)." (Wilkins et al., 1998: 1).

Protocol summary

"This questionnaire is designed in a "modular fashion". There are four independent modules, and we would be glad to receive answers to any of the "modules". A researcher should not feel that they need to answer the whole questionnaire if that seems too daunting. Where you do not know the answer to a question, please say so (rather than leaving a part of a module blank). The ordering of modules reflects our own sense of which types of information are more important to enable us to do some cross-language comparison." (Wilkins et al., 1998: 1).

Development context

"In the nature of our design, and our discussion, we rely heavily on Talmy's (1985) notion of lexicalization patterns, in particular his cross-linguistic discussion of systems of motion description. We are interested, for instance, in patterns of semantic conflation (that is, what other semantic information besides 'motion' may be encoded in a verb root) and patterns of semantic distribution (that is, what types of information are encoded in the different morphemes that come together to build a description of a motion event)." (Wilkins et al., 1998: 1).

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