Liane Ströbel

Sensorimotor-Based Concepts & Processes IN PRAESENTIA

In the case of empty verb-constructions the choice of the prototype and its extension is not random, but grounded in the perception that the speaker uses something always present in any given discourse situation in order to refer to something not “visible” in a concrete face-to-face communication: his/her arm/ hand.

It is the speaker who uses parts of his/her body (in this case the arm/hand- string) in order to turn an invisible action or concept such as doubts ‘visible’ by presenting it as if it was in his/her possession or hand at the moment of speaking (I have [possess, hold in my hand] doubts).

The advantages of this strategy are obvious: the body of the speaker is not only always visible and present in the discourse situation, but also already established as a communicative support (through facial expression and gesture).

The processes whereby the speaker uses something always present and therefore visible in any given discourse situation can be called processes in praesentia in comparison to processes in absentia, whereby the speaker uses material from outside the discourse situation (e.g. door in the example I have a foot in the door).

Processes in praesentia are used in order to either background a temporal discrepancy (e.g. ‘have’ + verb constructions) or to focus on the here and now (e.g. ‘have’ + abstract noun construction).