Event Encoding in a Crosslinguistic Perspective

Course 319
LSA Linguistic Institute
July 2015
University of Chicago

General Information:

Course Description:

Talmy's work on the lexicalization of motion events draws attention to significant differences in the strategies languages use to describe such events. This work shows that languages may differ in how they distribute the semantic components of a motion event description across the syntactic constituents of the clause. This course examines motion and other event types which show multiple encodings within and across languages. It investigates to what extent the attested encoding options stem from the interaction of crosslinguistically applicable argument realization principles with the varying lexical and morphosyntactic resources available to individual languages and to what extent they reflect alternate conceptualizations of certain event types. Examples and case studies involve the event types described by a subset of change of state verbs, ditransitive verbs, hitting verbs, motion verbs, psych-verbs, and weather verbs. Concomitantly, the course considers conceptual categories that find expression in languages, including affectedness, external/internal causation, motion, and scalar change.


The course will be most profitable for those with some familiarity with basic semantic and syntactic concepts.


Course Assignment:

(Pre-Phd) students taking this course for credit or a letter grade must complete the assignment by the end of class Thursday, July 30, 2015.

Handouts from Lectures:

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4

Return to Beth Levin's home page.