The Construction of Macro-events. A typological perspective

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In this paper Talmy's influential typology of macro-events (Talmy 1985, 1987, 1991, 2000) is discussed from the point of view of construction grammar (Goldberg 1995, 2006). Talmy has described typological differences of lexicalization between what he calls satellite framed languages and verb framed languages. The discussion originates in a contrastive analysis of a short story by H. C. Andersen available in six parallel versions: the original Danish version, an English, a German, a Spanish, an Italian and a French version. The paper argues that the generalized version of the typology (Talmy 1991, 2000) suffers from being formulated exclusively in terms of lexicalization patterns, and that the typology should include both the lexical level and a schematic constructional level of analysis. A framework is proposed in which the typological patterns are interpreted as an information structure phenomenon. Constructions of the main information (MIC) and the supportive information (SIC), of varying degree of specificity, are the basic constituents of the typology. From this point of view, Germanic languages tend to map the main information (MI) onto a complex schematic construction and the supportive information (SI) onto a lexical (verbal) construction. Romance languages tend to map the MI onto the verb, while the SI may be mapped onto a complex schematic construction. The paper hypothesizes that MIC and SIC stem from generalizations from usage, that they have their own, procedural role in grammar, as a device for organizing the information, and that the typology is anchored in this task. The interpretation of Talmy's descriptive typology is in this perspective that some pairs of MIC/SIC are more entrenched in the grammar of some languages than in others. The proposed framework is well suited for analyzing usage data that does not fit the basic patterns. It is also adequate for identifying patterns in data that are similar to those recognized in Talmy's work, yet not recognized as part of his typology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeconstructing constructions
EditorsChris Butler, Javier M. Arista
Number of pages38
Place of PublicationAmsterdam/New york
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Publication date2009
ISBN (Print)978 90 272 0574 2
ISBN (Electronic)978 90 272 8960 5
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Language typology, Motion events, Complex events, Construction grammar, Spanish language

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