Liane Ströbel

Sensorimotor-based Concepts as Transitive Copulas

I will concentrate here on the ‘arm/hand-string’ and use grammaticalization processes taking place on the ‘leg/foot-string’ just for illustration.

Verbs that denote ‘have’, ‘hold’, ‘make’, ‘do’, ‘take’, and ‘give’ etc. belong to the arm/hand-string.

These verbs can be divided into three groups: static verbs (‘have’/ ‘hold’), verbs implying a more or less visible movement with the hands (‘make’/‘do’) and directed movement verbs (‘give’/‘take’).

‘Have’ can be regarded as a prototype for the arm/hand-string. ‘Have’ can best be characterized by its two predominant features: conceptual simplicity and semantic complexity.

Its conceptual simplicity is due to the fact that it belongs to the verbal group of basic level concepts.

Basic level concepts are very frequent morphemes of elementary human action such as the English verbs have, take, give, go, come etc. (Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991:32; Di Meola 2000:20).

These morphemes show signs of semantic ambiguity, due to their high frequency of use in everyday communication.

Semantic ambiguity represents a fertile ground for different interpretations and can be accounted for by the rise of more complex and metaphorically or metonymically motivated structures.

In other words, it is the conceptual simplicity of basic level concepts that can be regarded as the source for the semantic complexity of most (if not all) basic level verbs:

a. have
to have… (dis)advantages, a choice, concerns consequences, courage, a discussion, fear, feelings for, a ght with, goal, hope, an idea, in uence, the intension to, the impression, the possibility of, the opportunity to, patience, power, privileges, problems, respect for, success, suspicions, sympathies for, talent, time, worries, etc.

b. make
to make… a comment, an effort, an excuse, an experience, an observation, a wish, etc.

c. give
to give… advice, my opinion, orders, information, my word to someone or somebody; a concert, a performance, a lesson, a lecture, an address, a smile, a call, etc.

d. take
to take… a walk, your time, care, etc