CHAPTER 3 COEXTENSION PATHS
This chapter and the three following present the analysis of fictive motion expressions. The focus of this chapter is coextension paths. Before analysing specific types of fictive motion, I will first explain how the data for all the following analysis in this thesis are collected.
The data for this study are collected from published magazines and essays. Neither introspective data nor existing corpora are employed due to the nature of the research questions developed in Chapter 2.
Both introspective data and empirical data have their advantages. Introspective data can provide clearer examples and are easy to manipulate, and they play an important role in the early studies on fictive motion (Langacker, 1986; Matsumoto, 1996c; Talmy, 2000a). However, the merits of empirical data make them more appropriate to answer the research questions. It is reasonable to use usage-based data as the study object since they are tied tightly to the linguistic system (Kemmer & Barlow, 2000). Data based on usage can present a fuller, albeit more complicated, picture of fictive motion expressions. They can show different categories of fictive motion in a more comprehensive way; and they objectively illustrate what types of participants are involved in fictive motion sentences, what semantic elements are encoded in the verbs, and also the types of metaphors involved. In addition, it is possible for empirical data to provide frequency information for the elements under discussion.
Existing corpora are not used because data collected from existing corpora will be circumscribed by the search terms employed. Fictive motion expressions are not limited by a set of particular words or constructions and so an exhaustive search is not possible. To get fictive motion sentences from an existing corpus requires searching relevant terms, either nouns or verbs or the combination of both. No matter how many search terms are specified, the searching results are still confined by the search terms. In this sense, it is less likely to find, first, other types of fictive motion expressions beyond the ones containing the search terms; second, a comprehensive range of participants and verbs contained in fictive motion sentences; and third, diversified sentences to determine the conceptual metaphors involved. Using a set of fixed texts and collecting fictive motion sentences exhaustively from them can avoid these problems. To be sure, a fixed set of data source cannot cover all the usages of fictive motion expressions, but the most typical and frequent types will almost certainly have been included, and more importantly, data collected in this way present a relatively objective picture of language use.
The set of authentic texts is composed of a series of published magazines and essays, which are likely to be rich in fictive motion expressions. Based on previous studies on fictive motion and mother tongue intuition, it is assumed that descriptive writings about geography and travelling should contain more fictive motion expressions compared with writings on other topics. The data source includes geographical books and magazines, travel essays, and texts about scenic spots, as shown in Table 3.1.
Specifically speaking, one popular science reading book, 19 travel essay books, three magazines of 12 issues each, and 13 textbooks were chosen to be the set of data source. The popular science book introduces various topics concerning the earth, including the composition of the earth, geographical phenomena, natural resources, the environment, and some modern technologies associated with the exploration of the earth. Among the 19 essay books, six were by Qiuyu Yu, a famous essayist. His travel essays include descriptions of places not only in China, but also in the rest of the world. Eleven travel essay books constitute a series named Modern and Contemporary Travel Essays by Famous Scholars with Photos, including travel essays either written or edited by different writers. Two of them are descriptions of places outside of China, and the other nine depict locations within China. The remaining two books are collections of travel essays by more than one hundred different writers, and most of the articles are about places in China. The three magazines are Chinese National Geography, China National Travel and Top Travel. Chinese National Geography covers physical geography, human geography, and cultural geography primarily in China. China National Travel focuses on travelling nationwide and worldwide. The target readers of Top Travel are Chinese international travellers, so the emphasis is on scenic spots worldwide. Junior high school textbooks are also incorporated into the written texts, including geography, physics, chemistry, and biology textbooks. There are roughly 9,500,000 characters in the data source. See the Appendix for detailed information on the publications making up the data source.
All the texts in the data source were read sentence by sentence and all the fictive motion expressions noted. A sentence is considered as involving fictive motion if it satisfies the definition of fictive motion expressions. Fictive motion expressions are defined as sentences describing a physical entity or scene involving no motion with dynamic linguistic forms that are normally used to depict moving entities. There are two points worth further clarification for this working definition. First, the entity or scene under description must be a physical one existing in the external world, which means that any metaphorical motion event is not counted as a fictive motion event, such as events happening in the emotion domain, time domain, and financial domain. Second, dynamic linguistic forms include not only typical ones such as verbs and directional adpositions, but also adjectives, idioms, and nouns that involve a dynamic conceptualization of the entity or scene. By applying this working definition to the data source, altogether 3054 fictive motion sentences were collected. The proportion of fictive motion sentences is approximately 1.7%16. Table 3.2 below lists the numbers of instances in each type of texts.
The number of fictive motion paths in those fictive motion sentences is more than 3054, because in some cases one sentence contains more than one fictive motion path.
The set of fictive motion expressions obtained are classified. Although subjectivity is inevitably involved in the classification process, there are still two sets of standards to refer to. One is the set of distinguishing conceptual features proposed by Talmy (2000a, p. 105), and the other set is the semantic descriptions of each type of fictive motion in Talmy (2000a). As mentioned in Chapter 2, I will refer to the two sets of distinguishing standards as “conceptual features” and “semantic descriptions” respectively. The conceptual features and the semantic descriptions for the six established types of fictive motion have been explained in Sections 2.2.2 and 2.4.3 of Chapter 2. The abstract conceptual features and the tangible semantic descriptions together can be regarded as the tool to identify each type of fictive motion. There are overlaps between the conceptual features and the semantic descriptions but neither of them alone is enough to define different types of fictive motion. It is not appropriate for the highly abstract conceptual features to solely serve as the defining features, since they are difficult to grasp and they miss many semantic commonalities shared by instances within a certain type. On the other hand, the semantic descriptions are too general and leave some critical details missing, though they provide information on the semantic context and the general fictive motion process. In my view, it is better to take both the conceptual features and the semantic descriptions into consideration when identifying different types of fictive motion expressions.
With the working definition and the two sets of distinguishing standards, the six established types of fictive motion are categorized from the data source, and the numbers of instances of each type are shown in Table 3.3.
Most collected fictive motion sentences can be classified into the six types, but there are also cases that cannot be accommodated very well by the established types. The six established types are analysed from the perspective of Cognitive Linguistics, after which the new types are discussed. The first established type of fictive motion to be discussed is coextension paths.
Coextension path expressions are the most frequently studied type of fictive motion. A coextension path sentence pertains to the “depiction of the form, orientation, or location of a spatially extended object in terms of a path over the object’s extent” (Talmy, 2000a, p. 138). Coextension path sentences will be discussed from the perspectives of the participants involved, i.e., the Figure (Section 3.2.1) and the Ground (Section 3.2.2), the verbs (Section 3.2.3), and metaphoric mappings (Section 3.2.3). The following analysis is based on 1290 coextension path sentences collected from the written data.
Figures in coextension paths
Generally speaking, the participants in coextension path sentences include the Figure whose extension is described in terms of a coextension path and the Ground with respect to which the Figure is characterized. The entities functioning as the Figure in coextension paths fall into several domains. It is quite hard to precisely describe what those domains are one by one since they tend to be interwoven and interrelated. However, it is still possible to tentatively enumerate some domains that occur most, as shown in Table 3.4 below. One of the most frequent domains that adopt coextension path expressions is the domain of geographical phenomena. Entities related with geomorphology, such as the plain, the plateau, the basin, the mountain, the canyon, the iceberg, the desert, the sea, the island, and the volcano, are frequently described with coextension paths. Those entities are usually hard to move and large in scale. Coextension paths become an ideal choice in some cases to describe their configurations. A related field is the domain of meteorology, including entities such as the band of rain, the cloud, the light, the fog, the rainbow, the sky, and the magnetosphere. They are also large in size. The distribution range of those entities is depicted by coextension path sentences. Another area that commonly employs coextension path expressions is the domain of plants. Entities in this domain tend to be the result of human impact on nature, such as terraced fields, rice fields, forests, trees, the grassland, flowers, and leaves. Apparently, some entities in this domain are associated with the geographic domain and again large in scale. The architectural structures17 domain that involves more human participation encompasses entities like step stones, alleys, buildings, towns, streets, chimneys, corridors, towers, grottoes, highways, trails, bridges, the Great Wall, etc. Many entities in this domain are fixed at one place once having been built and are large in size. The last domain is body parts, which covers entities like long hair, the belly, the fin, the tail feather, and even the wrist-shaped entity of a jellyfish. Among the five domains, 645 entities in the domain of geographical phenomena are observed, followed by entities related with architecture, the number of which is 570. There are 120 entities related to plants described with coextension path expressions, and for the entities in the domains of meteorology and animal the numbers are 28 and 23 respectively18. The number of entities in each domain roughly reflects the relative frequency of occurrence of coextension path expressions in the corresponding domain because the data come from a fixed set of texts, and it is believed that, even with a broader and more diversified data set, entities described with coextension path expressions should be of similar types.
As stated in the definition of coextension paths at the beginning of Section 3.2, typical Figures in coextension paths are entities with a spatially extended configuration along some dimension. Based on the sentences collected from the written data, it is observed that entities functioning as the Figure are not necessarily themselves extended, but have the potential to be conceptualized as such. In some coextension paths, the extension under discussion is not a concrete object, but a group of similar entities conceptualized linguistically as one integrated entity that extends, as shown in the sentence in (3-1)19 below.
Hundreds of houses in the town spread out evenly with the post house as the center.
In the sentence in (3-1), what is described as gradually spreading are hundreds of houses. Normally an individual house cannot be described as spreading, but hundreds of houses can be schematized as one integral entity occupying an area large enough to be conceptualized as spreading.
There are two types of entities, i.e., river-type entities and plants, which I consider as requiring further discussion. River-like entities and plants are frequently described with coextension path expressions, but both of them have some ambiguous features that make it difficult to decide whether the sentences depicting them are fictive motion expressions or not.
River-type entities can be regarded as being composed of two parts, namely, the river channel and the water inside the channel. The sentence will be of no interest if what is depicted as moving is the water since the water is indeed moving. In some cases it is evident that what is conceptualized as fictively moving is the river channel, as shown in the sentence in (3-2), but in some cases it is difficult to tell whether it is the river channel or the water inside it that is described as moving, as in (3-3). Both the subjects in the two sentences are rivers. In (3-2), the focus is on the scope of the river so that what are encoded include the Source location, the Path locations, and the Goal location of the fictive movement of the river channel. The movement of the water is not the concern here, and no verbs specifically used for the description of fluid are employed in the sentence. Although the verb in the sentence in (3-3) is used non-metaphorically depicting the movement of fluid, the adverbial phrase preceding it is 蜿蜒 (wān-yán; in-the-manner-of-zigzagging), which obviously depicts the configuration of the river course. In this way, it seems that both the configuration of the river channel and the movement of the water are described. Another point is that in cases like (3-3), although the movement is on the part of the water, the direction of the movement is decided by the river course. For the present chapter, both sentences like the ones in (3-2) and (3-3) are included in the collection of coextension path expressions. Sentences like the one in (3-4) are not included due to its pure description of the movement of the water. It can be observed that the distal perspective (Talmy, 2000a, p. 70) adopted in (3-2) and (3-3) allows the scenes to be depicted with a larger scope of attention as integral entities, and details, such as the moving of water, are overlooked; while on the other hand, the proximal perspective (ibid) is employed in (3-4) so that the scene is depicted in detail with a small scope of attention, and the shape of the entire entity cannot be grasped.
I gazed affectionately at the opposite stream that was gushing towards me.
Some long, linear parts of a plant are also frequently conceptualized linguistically as extending. What obscures the dividing line between factive motion sentences and fictive motion sentences lies in the fact that plants, or the parts of a plant, indeed grow, which means that the extension of a plant or one part of a plant is factive if a relatively long time frame is taken. For example, instead of depicting a specific fig tree as a scene perceived, the sentence in (3-5) introduces the root of the fig tree as a type. Notice that the adverbial phrases 不断 (bú-duàn; constantly) and 迅速 (xùn-sù; instantly) are used to indicate the temporal feature of the movement. In this case, the movement described is not fictive motion. It is general knowledge based on the observation and the study of many instances of fig trees. On the contrary, the sentence in (3-6) depicts a specific scene perceived within a very short time. Although the current length of the stem of the pumpkin is the result of its growing from a seed, the observation based on which the sentence is produced is an instant event. The stem of the pumpkin is a long, linear object, and its configuration is conceptualized linguistically in terms of the fictive motion along the stem. Sentences like the one in (3-6) are included in the collection of coextension path sentences whereas sentences like the one in (3-5) are excluded.
The reticular root extends continuously downwards, stretches into the earth to absorb water and nutrition, and quickly grows thick.
pá-shàng qiáng-tóu le, zài-qiáng-tóu-shàng climb-onto wall CRS ZAI-wall-on
The pumpkin trees climb onto the wall and blossom there. Some of them unexpectedly pass the high wall and climb onto the street.
Grounds in coextension paths
The Grounds with respect to which the Figures are characterized include the Source location, the Path location, the Goal location, and the General location, as illustrated in Table 3.5.
The Source location is the entity where the coextension path begins; the entity the coextension path passes through or extends along is the Path location; and the entity where the coextension path ends is the Goal location. In the sentence in (3-7), the Source location is the entity encoded by the noun phrase after 起自 (qǐ-zì; start-from), the Path locations are the entities encoded with the noun phrases after 经 (jīng; pass), and the Goal location is 上海 (shàng-hǎi; Shanghai), which follows the verb 到达 (dào-dá; arrive-at). The General location is the entity that is not the Source, Path, or Goal locations of the coextension path but is helpful in generally characterizing the coextension path. In the sentence in (3-8), the noun phrase 中亚 (zhōng-yà; Central-Asia) after the verb 横亘 (héng-gèn; horizontal-span) is identified as the General location. The General location serves as the background against which the coextension path is situated.
Verbs and metaphors in coextension paths
In the 1290 coextension path sentences collected, 1502 tokens and 232 types of verbs are employed. The number of verbs is more than the number of sentences, indicating that in some cases one sentence contains two or even more verbs. This is not surprising given that serial verb constructions are abundant in modern Chinese.
The verbs employed in coextension path expressions are discussed in terms of the semantic elements encoded. After an examination of all the verbs employed, three basic semantic elements are identified. They are general motion information, path information, and manner information. In some cases, one verb encodes one basic semantic element; and in others, two basic semantic elements are encoded in one verb. Table 3.6 illustrates the classification of verbs based on the semantic elements encoded. All the three basic semantic elements can be encoded independently in one verb; but not all the combinations of the three basic semantic elements are observed to be encoded in one verb. Manner plus path information and general motion plus path information are two combinations identified as being encoded in one verb. In this way, five types of semantic elements are encoded in the verbs, and they are general motion information, path information, manner information, manner plus path information, and general motion plus path information.
General motion verbs account for one-third of all the verbs used in coextension path expressions. General motion verbs are grouped together as a result of the observation that for some verbs little manner or path information is encoded. For example, the most frequently (145 times) used verb 延伸 (yán-shēn; extend) depicts the general extension process of an entity without specifying detailed path or manner information. Another verb 铺 (pū; spread), which occurs 13 times, is used to describe the spread of a planar entity without encoding additional path or manner information. Also included in this group are verbs expressing “start” or “stop”, such as 出发 (chū-fā; start) and 止 (zhǐ; stop). These two verbs only indicate the beginning and ending of the fictive movement without specifying either the manner or the path. Although almost no manner or path information is encoded in the verb itself, there are usually other linguistic forms expressing such information, such as directional verb complements, adpositional phrases, and adverbial phrases, as shown in the sentences in (3-9) and (3-10). The directional verb complements 出来 (chū-lái; out-come) in (3-9) and 开 (kāi; open) in (3-10), and the adpositional phrases 从 (cóng…; from…) in (3-9) and (3-10) provide the path information of the coextension paths. The adverbial phrase 缓缓 (huǎn-huǎn; slowly) in (3-10) depicts the manner of the spreading process.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
1.1 The Phenomenon of Fictive Motion Expressions
1.2 The Significance of Studying Fictive Motion
1.3 Justification for the Current Study
1.4 Organization of the Thesis
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 General Background
2.2 Fictive Motion Expressions
2.3 Relevant Chinese Grammar
2.4 Theoretical Framework
2.5 Research Questions
CHAPTER 3 COEXTENSION PATHS
3.1 Data Collection
3.2 Coextension Paths
CHAPTER 4 EMANATION PATHS
4.1 Orientation Paths
4.2 Radiation Paths
4.3 Shadow Paths
4.4 Sensory Paths
CHAPTER 5 ADVENT PATHS, FRAME-RELATIVE MOTION, PATTERN PATHS, AND ACCESS PATHS
5.1 Advent Paths
5.2 Frame-relative Motion
5.3 Pattern Paths
5.4 Access Paths
CHAPTER 6 NEW TYPES OF FICTIVE MOTION
6.1 New Types of Fictive Motion
6.2 Relationships between Types of Fictive Motion
6.3 Current Picture of the Categorization of Fictive Motion
CHAPTER 7 DISCUSSION & THEORETICAL IMPLICATIONS
7.3 Metaphoric Mappings
CHAPTER 8 CONCLUSION
8.4 Further studies
Appendix Data Source
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