The Linguistic Categorization of Deictic Direction in Chinese — with Reference to Japanese —

  • Christine Lamarre

This paper discusses the linguistic categorization of deictic direction in Mandarin Chinese, with reference to Japanese. It focuses on the following question: to what extent should the prevalent bimorphemic (nondeictic + deictic) structure of Chinese directionals be linked to its typological features as a satellite-framed language. We know from other satellite-framed languages such as English, Hungarian, and Russian, that this feature is not necessarily directly connected to satellite-framed patterns. Furthermore, verb-framed languages like Korean or Japanese also frequently combine deictic and non deictic paths in the same verb complex. Our conclusion is that the typological behavior of a language from the viewpoint of Talmy's typology (Verb-framed vs. Satellite-framed) has no direct bearing on its choice of bipartite encoding of paths (deictic together with nondeictic). However, these typological features likely exert an indirect influence on the strategies used by a language to combine deictic paths, nondeictic paths, and the manner or cause of motion in a same verb complex, and ultimately also on the frequency of using deictic paths. We conclude that in order to understand why the overt linguistic expression of deictic direction is prevalent in some languages and not in others, we must take into account at least two different levels of linguistic organization, one pertaining to the syntactic devices expressing causativity and change of state, the other pertaining to the semantic devices through which languages express subjectivity.


spatial deixis subjectivity motion events directionals 


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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Lamarre
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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