Motion events in Hindi

Term Paper, 2002

6 Pages, Grade: A-


A Introduction

This squib provides a short introduction into Hindi syntax, as far as it seems to be relevant for the grammaticalization of motion events in Hindi, and a summary of the most striking facts about the way Hindi grammaticalizes motion events. Within Talmy's (1985) terminology, Hindi probably is one of the clearer cases of a PATH language. Except for some (supposedly frequently used) MANNER encoding verbs like e.g. 'run', the notion of PATH can only be evoked by PATH-verbs. The set of MANNER-verbs that are compatible with the notion of PATH seems to only contain MANNER-verbs that can be observed to be compatible with a PATH interpretation in other (PATH)-languages (cf. Eve Clark, p.c.).

B Hindi Syntax - some facts*

Hindi has case marking (e.g. nee - 'ERG', koo - 'ACC', kee - 'GEN', mee - 'LOC') and postpositions (e.g. niichee - 'under', andar - 'inside'). Concerning the case system, Hindi is a split ergative language (i.e. both NOM + ACC and ERG + ABS are used to mark arguments depending on the verb's semantics). The basic word order in Hindi is SOV.

In the following examples, I use Narasimhan's (1998) terminology but there are some (controversial) facts to keep in mind: -mee - LOC, -see - ABL, etc. are postpositions or case markers (it seems to be controversial if it is a morphemic case marker or an independent word) meaning LOC - 'in', 'into', ABL - 'from', ... The genitive marker kee - GEN can be treated similarly. It can inflect a noun if the resulting NP is a complement of a (complex) postposition (e.g. niichee - 'under') or it can take a case-marked NP as complement itself. There are however relatively clear cases of case markers in Hindi, namely for example a null-morpheme for the nominative or -koo for the accusative (all above-mentioned forms are cited in the MASC.SG).

C First comparison with English

Narasimhan (1998:4 ff.; forth N98)1 claims that Hindi patterns with French and Spanish (and not like Enlish):


1. Dibbaa-0 guuhee-mee ghusaa/ gayaa/ *bahaa.

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2. Dibbaa-0 guuhee-mee bahakar ghusaa/ gayaa.

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The box entered/went in(to) the cave floating.

Caused Motion:

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*Dahlia pulled the box under the table.

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Dahlia-NOM box-ACC pull-BY table-GEN under pull-SG.FEM.PST

Dahlia brought the box under the table by pulling [it].

However, there are some verbs (e.g. Dhakeelanaa - 'shove/dislodge', lu.Dhakaanaa - 'roll'; N98:5) that are more acceptable in constructions that encode change-of-location (as in (5)). Generally, a MANNER-verb combined with a locative PP or a NP marked with the LOC-case (forth NP-LOC) cannot describe [directed] motion (6) and (7) or caused motion (9) (N98:6, corrected for typos):

5. The boy went/ran/hobbled/riggled under the brigde.

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The boy went/?ran/*hobbled/*wriggled under the bridge.

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*The boy hobbled into the room.

8. Agatha dragged/kicked/slid the box inside the room.

9. Agatha-nee Dibbee-koo kamree-kee andar ?ghasiitaa/*laTh maaraa/??sarakaayaa Agatha-ERG box-ACC room-GEN inside ?dragged/*foot hit/??slid

Agatha ?dragged/*kicked/??slid the box inside the room.

Note, that examples (7) and (9) are OK with a locative reading2 (i.e. the kicking/etc. takes place inside the room). These examples seem to suggest that PATH is (primarily) encoded in the verb (i.e. by verbs like ghusnaa - 'enter', jaanaa - 'go'). Unlike LOCATION, PATH cannot be evoked by a locative PP or a NP-LOC.

D Stanford Hindi

To check the data and to clarify how PATH and MANNER can be encoded in Hindi, I consulted an additional informant, a.k.a. Ashwini Deo (some credits also go to Veronica Gerassimova who provided useful examples, too). Unless otherwise mentioned, the following examples are not taken from N98.

Whereas (10) and (11) unambiguously describe a directed motion event with a GOAL (by NP- case or PP), (12) unambiguously describes a non-directed motion. In (12), the LOC-phrase denotes the location where the activity takes place. The analysis of (13) is more complicated. Hindi seems to have a (small) set of MANNER-verbs that can also be used with DIRECTED- MOTION-verbs (in the construction in (13)). The DIRECTED-MOTION-use is compatible with a PP that specifies the GOAL of the motion. Thus (13), unlike most MANNER-verbs, has two readings. First, (13) can be interpreted as directed motion. In that case, the PP 'shop-GEN inside' denotes the GOAL. Secondly, (13) can be understood as non-directed motion. In that case, the PP 'shop-GEN inside' denotes the LOCATION of the 'running'.

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He ran into the shop.

However, most Hindi MANNER-verbs cannot have the directed motion reading in a construction like (13). Each of the examples in (14) can only be understood as non-directed motion that takes place 'inside of the house':

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In the above-mentioned examples, I used the LOC-case marker or the postposition andar - 'in(side)' to denote the GOAL or the LOCATION of the motion event. English can use prepositions (e.g. into, out of, to, under, from, through, onto, etc.) and NPs (e.g. in Maria will leave the city) to encode parts of a motion's PATH. Similarly, Hindi speakers make use of case- marked NPs (as in (15)) and postpositions (as in (16) - (17)). The status of the LOC- and ABL- case markers seems to be controversial. LOC probably is best translated as a postposition meaning 'in' and ABL as a postposition meaning 'from'. Though N98 treats ABL and LOC as case markers (without discussing it), the status of the NOM-marked NP in (15) is different from the status of the ABL-marked NP in (16). Whereas the former clearly is a complement of the verb, the latter is more like an adjunct.

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* For their support I am indebted to Ashwini Deo and Veronica Gerassimova (all examples in section C were elicited from Ashwini and all other examples were checked and corrected by Ashwini and Veronica).

1 Most of N98's data has been collected from three native speakers. All examples have been either produced by one of those speakers or checked for acceptability by them. The interviews that were used to create the corpus for her research contain elicited statements (description of an action, state or event that was shown to the native speaker) and translations for English sentences. Examples are marked ungrammatical (*) if all informants agreed on the unacceptability, questionable (?, ??) if one or more of the informants thought that the sentence was odd (N98:14).

2 This is N98's terminology for a non-directional reading of a motion verb (pure MANNER reading).

Excerpt out of 6 pages


Motion events in Hindi
Stanford University  (Linguistics Department)
Lexical semantics LIN233
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ISBN (eBook)
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374 KB
Motion, Hindi, Lexical, LIN233
Quote paper
Tim Florian Jaeger (Author), 2002, Motion events in Hindi, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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