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Why a folder lies in the basket although it is not lying: the semantics and use of German positional verbs with inanimate Figures

  • In this paper we will investigate the meaning and use of positional verbs in colloquial Standard German. Positional verbs are defined as those verbs which may appear in the basic construction that functions as an answer to a “where”-question, the so-called Basic Locative Construction (BLC). Within this class of verbs, we focus on those positionals which are used to describe the configuration of inanimate movable objects. We will demonstrate that German exhibits the characteristics of a positional (or “multiverb”) language, i.e., a language that uses a comparatively large set of verbs in the BLC. The ten positionals used most frequently in our data are stehen ‘stand’, liegen ‘lie’, hängen ‘hang’, lehnen ‘lean’, stecken ‘be in tight fit, be stuck’, klemmen ‘be stuck, be jammed’, kleben ‘stick by means of glue’, haften ‘adhere’, schwimmen ‘be afloat in liquid’, and schweben ‘be afloat’. We will identify the conditions under which the positional verbs are used and provide a semantic characterization for each of them, paying particular attention to alternative categorizations, fuzzy boundaries and prototype effects.

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Author:Silvia Kutscher, Eva Schultze-Berndt
Parent Title (English):Linguistics. Special Issue: The Typology and Semantics of Locative Predicates: Posturals, Positionals, and Other Beasts
Editor:Felix Ameka, Stephen Levinson
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2007
Date of Publication (online):2015/01/21
GND Keyword:Bewegungsverb; Deutsch; Lokativ; Positionsverb
First Page:983
Last Page:1028
Dieser Beitrag ist mit Zustimmung des Rechteinhabers aufgrund einer (DFG geförderten) Allianz- bzw. Nationallizenz frei zugänglich.
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Sprache / 430 Deutsch / 435 Deutsche Grammatik
Open Access?:Ja
Licence (German):Es gilt das UrhG