Just a Matter of ‘Manner’? Modeling Action Verb Semantics in an Inter-Linguistic Perspective
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Action vebs are important testing ground for the study of lexical encoding of the ‘manner’ feature. In this respect, the opposition between ‘manner’ and ‘result’ verbs has definitely become one of the central nodes to describe different ways to lexicalize the meaning components. Nonetheless, a more integrated way to conceive cognitive and semantic conceptualization of actions can lead to highlighting a wider range of lexicalization strategies. The inter-linguistic comparison of these strategies can make a major contribution to this end. In this paper, we will mostly focus on Chinese, English and Italian, and we will analyze the meaning components of different seriees of verbs from the semantic fields of ‘breaking’, ‘cutting’, ‘cooking’, ‘killing’, and ‘motion’. In order to perform such an analysis, we assumed the framework adopted by the IMAGACT Ontology, a multilingual database linking visually represented action concepts and lexical entries. The results lead to reconsidering the weight of some of the traditional categories used to describe action verb sematics. More specifically, we will see that ‘manner’ and ‘result’ features can interact in different and complex ways, and that other components, such as the ‘goal’ of the action, can be useful to descibe the meaning of verbs encoding neither ‘manner’ nor ‘result’.