Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

Verbal Prefixation and Metaphor: How Does Metaphor Interact with Constructions?

Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

Verbal Prefixation and Metaphor: How Does Metaphor Interact with Constructions?

Article excerpt

Abstract. This article argues that metaphorical and non-metaphorical content find different expression on the constructional level. The hypothesis is supported by two empirical case studies of the Russian Locative Alternation verbs, based on the data from the Russian National Corpus: the unprefixed verb sypat' 'strew' (which does not have an aspectual partner) and the unprefixed verb gruzit' 'load' and its three perfective partners with the prefixes na-, za-, and po-. It is argued that metaphorical extensions of these Locative Alternation verbs have a strong relationship with elaborations (interactions between different constructions), on the one hand, and reduction (Locative Alternation constructions with a reduced or omitted participant), on the other. The results indicate differences in metaphorical behavior of different prefixes (even when they are used to form perfective partner verbs) and different constructions (some constructions are more often instantiated as metaphorical extensions than the other).

1. Introduction

In the cognitive linguistic view, metaphor is defined in terms of "cross-domain mapping" (Lakoff and Johnson 1980, Lakoff 1993: 203). More recent studies indicate that metaphors involve more than just mappings or bindings between two domains (or mental spaces) and should rather be treated as instances of blending among several domains (Fauconnier and Turner 2008). Another question is how such mapping or blending is expressed on the formal level. As noted in some recent corpus studies, there are frequently formal differences between metaphorical and literal uses of the same words, suggesting that metaphors have well-defined grammatical forms (Deignan 2005).

The issue that I address in this article is whether such differences are also attested at the level of constructions. Corpus research on metaphor usually starts with a metaphorical expression and examines which collocates and grammatical forms it combines with (Deignan 2005). By contrast, I will begin with specific constructions and analyze how they mark metaphorical uses. This approach will enable me to test whether metaphorical uses are marked on the constructional level. The constructions considered here are the Russian Locative Alternation Constructions (corresponding to John loaded the hay onto the truck vs. John loaded the truck with hay). An analysis of the Locative Alternation Constructions in the Russian National Corpus ( indicates that their modifications are related to metaphor. These constructions can be modified in two ways: via elaboration and via reduction. Elaboration is the result of an interaction between the Locative Alternation Constructions and other constructions, as in example (1) below: (1)

(1) ... sypat' citatami v sobesednika.

strew quotations INST in speaker ACC

'... strew quotations at the speaker.'

Reduction involves sentences where one of the participants in the Locative Alternation constructions (the one that is not in the direct object position) is missing, as in example (2) below:

(2) On ... resil zagruzit' svoego predannogo slusatelja.

he NOM decided load INF his devoted listener ACC

'He ... decided to confuse his devoted listener.'

Both examples are metaphorical and will be discussed in section 3. I will show that in order to get a metaphorical extension we do not simply fill the argument roles of a construction with linguistic units describing another domain but often also perform structural changes.

Section 2 gives a brief overview of metaphor theory (2.1) and research done on the formal representations of metaphor (2.2). Section 3 describes my data and methods used. In section 4, I present two case studies of the Locative Alternation verbs: (i) the verb sypat' 'strew', illustrating a case of elaboration (4.1); and (ii) the verb gruzit' 'load' and its perfective partners nagruzit', zagruzit', pogruzit' 'load', discussing reduction (4. …

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