The unique vector constraint: The impact of direction changes on the linguistic segmentation of motion events.
This paper draws on ongoing research of the Event Representation group within the Argument Structure project at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. The Event Representation group is dedicated to investigating universals and cross-linguistic variation in the linguistic representation of complex events. Motion is one of three domains in which members of the group have been studying the coding of complex events. The results of a pilot study conducted in 1999 on thirteen mostly unrelated languages from six continents show a striking amount of variation in the coding of locomotion events. Section 2 introduces the stimuli that have been used in this investigation and illustrates variation in the representation of motion paths (in the sense of Jackendoff 1983 and Talmy 1972, 1985, 1991) with examples from Yukatek Maya. In this language, path is exclusively lexicalized in a set of verbs of ‘inherently directed motion’ (Levin 1993); there is no differentiation whatsoever of source, goal, or location outside these verb roots. Therefore, a movement from source to goal has to be distributed across a minimum of two mutually independent clauses in Yukatek, one referring to a departure event and one referring to an arrival event.