Journal of Universal Language
Sejong University Language Research Institue

A Semantic Analysis of Universal and Idiosyncratic Features of Induced Motion Verbs: From the Perspective of Language Typology

Ana Ibáñez Moreno1
1University of La Rioja

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


This is a semantic study of causative movement verbs that have been organized into two main groups consisting of similar and contrasting features. This analysis contradicts Van Valin & LaPolla (1997) and other authors working within the Role and Reference Grammar theoretical framework such as Jolly (1991, 1993), who defends the view that causative movement verbs only respond to one Aktionsart type (that is, to one type of mode of action): causative accomplishment verbs. I demonstrate that there are also causative active accomplishment movement verbs. This distinction is supported through the different locational expressions each take. Thus, the essential role that such expressions play in the lexical decomposition of movement verbs is discussed. Also, I offer a comparative analysis of these verbs in English and Quenya. The results allow for the identification of the universal semantic features of both types of verbs; they provide evidence for the usefulness of artificial languages not only in global and cross-cultural communication, but also in the contrastive syntactic and semantic analysis of natural languages. This study has followed the semantic approach of Componential Analysis, of which the different semantic classes of verbs reflect different syntactic and semantic argument structures. This explains the direct relation between the type of verb and the type of locative argument it takes.

Keywords: mode of action; Aktionsart; induced motion; causative (active) accomplishment movement verbs; Role and Reference Grammar; locational expressions; semantic (argument) structure; logical structure; transitivity; redundancy



Arista, J. 2001. Sintaxis Medieval Inglesa. In I. Cruz & J. Arista (eds.), Lingüística Histórica Inglesa 37-84. Barcelona: Ariel.


Baixauli, L. 1996. La Lengua de los Elfos. Barcelona: Ediciones Minotauro. British National Corpus. Available at URL <>. Dik, S. 1978. Functional Grammar. Dordertcht: Foris.


Dowty, D. 1979. Word Meaning and Montague Grammar. Dordrecht: Reidel.


Durán, P. & G. Aguado. 2001. La Investigación en las Lenguas Aplicadas: Enfoque Multidisciplinario. Madrid: Fundación Gómez Pardo.


Faber, P. & R. Mairal. 1999. Constructing a Lexicon of English Verbs. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.


Fauskanger, H. Quenya Course. Available at URL < People/hnohf/qcourse.htm>.


Grimshaw, J. 1994. Argument Structure. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Gropen, J. et al. 1991. Affectedness and Direct Objects: The Role of Lexical Semantics in the Acquisition of Verb Argument Structure. In B. Levin & S. Pinker (eds.), 1991. Lexical and Conceptual Semantics 153-195. Oxford: Blackwell.


Jolly, J. 1991. Prepositional Analysis within the Framework of Role and Reference Grammar. New York: Peter Lang.


Jolly, J. 1993. Preposition Assignment in English. In V. Valin & D. Robert (eds.), Advances in Role and Reference Grammar 275-310. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.


Levin, B. 1993. English Verb Classes and Alternations: A Preliminary Investigation. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.


Levin, B. & M. Hovav. 1995. Unaccusativity: At the Syntax-lexical Semantics Interface. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Levin, B. & S. Pinker. 1991. Lexical and Conceptual Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell.


Lindstromberg, S. 1997. English Prepositions Explained. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


MacArthur, T. 1985. Lexicon of Contemporary English. London & New York: Longman.


Mairal, R. 2001. En Torno a la Interficie Léxico-gramática en los Modelos Gramaticales. In P. Durán & G. Aguado (eds.), La Investigación en las Lenguas Aplicadas: Enfoque Multidisciplinario 115-151. Madrid: Fundación Gómez Pardo.


Mairal, R. & P. Faber. 2002. Functional Grammar and Lexical Templates. In R. Usón & M. Quintero (eds.), New Perspectives on Predicate Argument Structure in Functional Grammar 39-94. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.


Mairal, R. & M. Quintero. 2002. New Perspectives on Predicate Argument Structure in Functional Grammar. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.


Martsch, N. 1992. Basic Quenya: Quenya Language Lessons with Elvish-English Vocabulary. Birmingham: Beyond Bree.


Moreno, A. & A. Pastor. 2004. A Semantic Typology of Causative Accomplishment Movement Verbs and their Argument-adjuncts in Role and Reference Grammar. Atlantis 26, 35-50.


Pinker, S. 1989. Learnability and Cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Quirk, R. et al. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London & New York: Longman.


Taylor, J. 1989. Linguistic Categorization: Prototypes in Linguistic Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Tolkien, J. 1992. The Lord of the Rings. London: Harper Collins.


Tolkien, J. 1997. The Monsters and the Critics. London: Harper Collins.


Van Valin, R. & R. LaPolla. 1997. Syntax: Structure, Meaning and Function. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Vendler, Z. 1957. Linguistics in Philosophy. Ithaca, NJ: Cornell University Press.