Back to list

Detail of contribution


Verb Serialization As Cognitive Universal (Slavonic and Iranian data)

Abstract/Résumé: Serial verbs are found in many languages in different exotic parts of the world. A typical serial verb construction consists of a sequence of two or more verbs acting together like a single verb. We show that a particular structure of multiple verbs, called verb chains, is frequently used in many Indo-European languages. For example a sentence both in Ukrainian and Persian may contain up to 3 verbs in a row. The idea of “event” is one of the central and basic categories of human cognition (see Talmy 2000, vol. II, chapters 1 and 3). Events can be cognized as being unitary, or as having an internal structure and some degree of complexity: a. The candle went out because something blew on it. b. The candle blew out. The complex sentence in (a) represents the main event (went out), the subordinating relation (because) and the subordinate event (something blew). The same content is expressed in (b), but as a unitary event. Talmy coins the term macro-event for such unitary verb complexes. Such kind of a complex (or macro-event) consists of the main event (also called framing event) and subordinate event (also called co-event). There are five framing events: Motion, Temporal contouring, State change, Action correlation and Realization. The last four are the metaphorical extensions of Motion. Also there are eight co-events: Percursion, Enablement, Cause, Manner, Concomitance, Subsequence, Concurrent result and Constitutiveness. In Modern colloquial Ukrainian and Persian two (Motion and State change) of five possible framing events and four (Percursion, Enablement, Cause and Manner) of eight possible subordinate events are expressed by the serial verb chains. Example of 2-verb chain in Persian: Cherā (1) bikhodāhafezi (2) gozāshti (3) rafti (4)? ‘Why (1) without saying goodbye (2) [did you] put (3) go?’ (Why did you go without saying goodbye?); The verb raftan ‘to go’ contains the framing event of Motion. The verb gozāshtan ‘to put, to place’ is expressing the subordinate event of Enablement. Example of 2-verb chain in Ukrainian: Potim (1) vin (2) vz’av (3) pomer (4) ‘Then (1) he (2) took (4) died (5)’ (After that he suddenly died); The verb pomyraty ‘to die’ contains the framing event of State change. The verb vz’aty ‘to take’ is expressing the subordinate event of Manner (surprisingly). Examples of 3-verb chains in Persian: (9) Mahmud (1) bas ast (2) digar (3). Boru (4) begir (5) bekhāb (6) ‘Mahmud (1), it’s enough (2) no more (3). Go (4) take (5) sleep (6)’ (Mahmud, no more of that. Go to bed); The verb khābidan ‘to go to bed’ contains the framing event of State change. The verbs raftan ‘to go’ and gereftan ‘to take’ are expressing the subordinate events of Enablement and Precursion. So we can assume that the serialization is universal linguistic category.