The Path to Neutralization: Image Schemas and Prefixed Motion Verbs
One of the major difficulties for students of Russian as a foreign language is to understand the use of unidirectional and non-directional motion verbs like идти and ходить. But when they have finally mastered the directionality distinction it comes as a surprise that it only occurs in unprefixed motion verbs. Why is there no distinction between unidirectional and non-directional prefixed verbs of motion? In this article, I propose a principled answer to this question in terms of the image schema path. I argue that the stem of unidirectional motion verbs like идти provides an abstract path which is further fleshed out by the addition of a prefix. It is suggested that the semantic overlap between stem and prefix leads to the neutralization of the directionality contrast in prefixed motion verbs. After a brief presentation of the Russian motion verbs in section 1, I discuss the path and manner image schemas in section 2 and the unidirectional-non-directional contrast in section 3. Section 4 shows how image schemas provide a principled account of neutralization in section 4. The implications of an image schematic approach for aspect are analyzed in section 4, before the contribution of the article is summarized in section 5.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø