Liane Ströbel

Sensorimotor-based Concepts & Polyfunctionality

It is interesting that one morpheme out of the basic level group can be the source for many different grammaticalization processes in only one language (‘have’ as a perfect and future marker in French, e.g. j’ ai chanté vs. chanterai) and in different languages, e.g. ‘go’ as a future marker in English (I am going to sing), French (Je vais chanter), Spanish (voy a cantar), and past marker in Catalan (vaig cantar), or ‘come’ as a future marker in Swedish (komma att), Hausa (), and near past in French (venir de) or Sesotho (-tsoa).

These examples all have in common that no matter what basic level concept is chosen in order to fulfill a certain function in a given language, the figurative concept behind the choice of this basic level concept is fairly transparent, e.g. ‘hold’ or ‘stay’ in order to express continuity in Imonda (ula) or Italian (stare a).

Nevertheless, the development of basic level concepts rests unpredictable given the fact that not all languages use for example ‘go’ to express near future, but make different choices:

Paul takes a walk.

~ ‘make’: German: Paul macht einen Spaziergang.

French: Paul fait une promenade.

~’make’/ ‘give’: Italian: Paul fa (da) un passaggio.

~ ‘give’: Portuguese:  Paul da um passeio.

Spanish: Paul da un paseo.