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Antonopoulou, Eleni (1987) Prototype theory and the meaning of verbs, with special reference to modern Greek verbs of motion. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London.

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Abstract

The present study tests the applicability of Prototype theory, selected among competing theoretical frameworks, to a lexical semantic analysis of verbs, with particular reference to the previously uncharted domain of Modern Greek verbs of motion. A number of the characteristics which Prototype theory established in connection with certain types of nouns are demonstrated to pertain to verbs: their meaning is not a matter of necessary and sufficient conditions, but rather a matter of gradation; their attributes combine in non-arbitrary ways to form categories with fuzzy boundaries the members of which are non-equivalent. Two categorizations of motion verbs according to 'major classificatory properties' are discussed at length. First, 'states', 'processes' and 'events' are shown to constitute a continuum, the focal points of which are identifiable on the basis of the interaction of factors such as spatio-temporal specifications, aspect, inherent semantic properties of individual verbs and the nature of the 'theme' (moving object). Second, 'causativity' and 'agentivity' are understood as distinct, to some extent, clusters of scalar properties and different Modern Greek motion verbs are shown to exhibit these properties to a greater or lesser degree. In seeking to determine which factors may be responsible for the formation of verb categories, it is recalled that the validity of the principle of 'family resemblance' and the method for identifying the 'basic' level of abstraction cannot be tested in the case of verbs. It is suggested that other factors may be operative, such as the relative 'salience' of certain combinations of properties, 'linguistic markedness', familiarity and frequency. This tentative conclusion is reinforced with respect to Modern Greek verbs of motion by the results of specific tests.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:11
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/29355

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