“Romanes eunt domus”: where you can go with Latin morphology. Variation in motion expression between system and usage

Claudio Iacobini, Luisa Corona


In this paper, based on a corpus analysis of Classical Latin texts, we show that, although Latin displays at the system level a wide array of linguistic resources characterizing Satellite-Framed languages, the actual usage of the strategies employed in motion encoding significantly differs from what is expected in a typical Satellite-Framed language.
Our results claim in favour of a neat distinction between system and usage in the typological classification of motion events, since a rich set of linguistic means available for motion encoding at the system level is not a sufficient condition for assessing the actual strategies being used in a language.
The findings about the preferred strategies of motion encoding in Latin can contribute to a better understanding of typological change in motion expression. We believe that the limited use of manner verbs, the lack of complexity of Path, together with the semantic congruence of Path (expressed in the prefixed verb) and prepositional phrase, may constitute conditions paving the way for the typical expression of dislocation motion in Verb-Framed languages, in which the function of indicating the Path is carried out by the verb, whereas prepositional phrases tend to express neutral meanings with respect to the static / dynamic distinction.


motion events; typological change; Latin linguistics; sytem; usage

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26220/mmm.2726

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