Talking about motion in Danish, French and Russian. Some implications for LSP in theory and practice.

  • Viktor Smith Copenhagen Business School


The article addresses the lexicalization of motion and space in the verb lexicons of Danish, French, and Russian and the impact that cross-linguistic differences in this regard have for LSP communication and translation. Several authors have suggested a sharp typological distinction between so-called MANNER languages (e.g. Danish) and PATH languages (e.g. French). This article further develops the semantic classification underlying such a typology by introducing the notion of location-based action verbs, or in short, relocation verbs. Using this framework, it will be argued that Russian presents an interesting special case in being a MANNER language which is in the process of switching over to a PATH oriented approach, allowing more room for manoeuvring to its speakers than is the case for both Danish and French. This hypothesis is tested in a pilot study based on Danish and Russian step-by-step process descriptions relating to the sugar industry. In the introductory part of the article, the relevance and place of typological data of the present sort in a broader LSP context are discussed at some length.