Non-Actual Motion Expressions in Language and Gesture


Summary, in English

This thesis studies the phenomenon of non-actual motion (NAM) (Blomberg, 2014; Blomberg & Zlatev 2014), and its expression in language and gestures. It has been documented that many languages employ expressions of motion in descriptions of static scenarios (Amagawa, 1997; Blomberg, 2014; Matsumoto, 1996; Rojo & Valenzuela, 2003, 2009; Stosic & Sarda, 2009), here called NAM-expressions (NAM-Es). It has been proposed that NAM-Es have different experiential motivations (Blomberg 2014; Blomberg & Zlatev, 2014; Langacker, 1987; Matsumoto, 1996; Talmy, 2000a), which may, collectively, be called NAM-motivations.
This thesis discusses four possible NAM-motivations: visual scanning, imagination, affordance of motion, and enactive self-motion, the latter for the first time. An empirical study was conducted to distinguish between the influence of three of these NAM-motivations, visual scanning, affordance of motion, and enactive self-motion, on expressions of non-actual motion in speech and gesture.
Thirty-nine native speakers of Swedish described 20 drawings depicting spatially extended objects, which were varied systematically to favor the different NAM-motivations. It was tested how frequently NAM-Es occurred in description of different stimuli-types, and a semantic framework for the analysis of motion expressions in gestures was developed to test whether different NAM-motivations were reflected in gestural NAM-Es.
It was found that all the NAM-motivations that were investigated appear to function as motivations for NAM-expressions, but to varying extents. It was found that affordance of motion was relevant for both narrow and (what is here called) extended linguistic NAM-Es, but not for gestures. Enactive self-motion was relevant for extended linguistic NAM-Es, and visual scanning for narrow linguistic NAM-Es. The influence of visual scanning and enactive self-motion on gestural expression of NAM is complex, and needs further research.


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Cognitive semiotics Fictive motion Gesture Grounding Non-actual motion Phenomenology Subjective motion.


  • Jordan Zlatev (Docent)