Granularity, space, and motion‐framed location

Mark Tutton

in Motion Encoding in Language and Space

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199661213
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745348 | DOI:

Series: Explorations in Language and Space

Granularity, space, and motion‐framed location

Show Summary Details


The ways in which different languages encode motion events has been the topic of intense analyses and dissections in recent years, especially with regard to Talmy’s (1991, 2000) verb / satellite-framed typology. This chapter shifts course by moving away from motion event typologies and the encoding of canonical motion events. Instead, it shows that English speakers can conceptualize space in terms of motion events even when they set out to encode locative relationships: this is termed motion-framed location and is lexicalized by spatial–temporal prepositions such as before and after. This chapter uses two interpretations of granularity (understood as level of specificity and scales of space) to explore key semantic and usage differences between the locative prepositions in front of and behind on the one hand, and before and after on the other. The analysis shows that the former locative prepositions encode a finer degree of locative semantic detail than do the spatial–temporal ones, and that the latter are more restricted in terms of the scales of space at which they are used. Before and after require constancy in the Figure / Ground locative relationship, thereby favoring non-manipulable entities which occupy fixed locations in space. In contrast, in front of and behind are used to lexicalize locative relationships at both large and small scales of space, without the same requirement of Figure and Ground locative stability.

Keywords: granularity; space; motion; static location; prepositions

Chapter.  7906 words. 

Subjects: Psycholinguistics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.