Symmetry and asymmetry in Italian caused-motion constructions: An Embodied Construction Grammar approach

Enrico Torre


The present article introduces Embodied Construction Grammar, a cognitive approach to the study of language which at present is not fully developed and established, but whose adoption has repeatedly proved adequate to provide explicit analyses of several grammatical phenomena observed in English and also some phenomena of other languages, especially German, Hebrew, and Mandarin Chinese. In this paper, after a brief introduction to cognitive approaches to grammar and a brief summary of the main properties of Embodied Construction Grammar (with a special focus on those which distinguish this model from other cognitive approaches), I will provide the reader with an illustration of this model at work. Since at present Romance languages (with the partial exception of Spanish) have been somewhat neglected by scholars who developed this approach, I will proceed to carefully analyze a circumscribed phenomenon of the Italian language, namely caused-motion constructions. The results of this case-study are remarkable for two reasons. First of all, they allow me to assert that Embodied Construction Grammar proves able to supply a detailed explanation of this phenomenon, thus being apt to be adopted in the analysis of Italian data. Second, and perhaps more interesting, the adoption of this particular model to carry out my investigation enables me to argue that Italian caused-motion constructions can be divided into two different categories, and to explain this distinction using the cognitive semantic notion of force-dynamics.

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