Direction and associated motion in Tibeto-Burman

Carol Genetti, Kristine Hildebrandt, Nathaniel A. Sims, Alexia Z. Fawcett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study analyzes systems of direction and associated motion in 23 languages of the Tibeto-Burman family. Both direction and associated motion can be encoded by a range of grammatical strategies, including affixes, clitics, particles, serial-verb constructions, and auxiliary verbs. While some languages have only associated motion or direction, others have both, either via distinct subsystems, syntactic ambiguity, or context-dependent interpretation. While directional encodings can be interpreted as associated motion in some contexts, the reverse can also be true. Verbal semantics is key to the pragmatic interpretation of examples in context; some types of motion verbs are more compatible with directional interpretations and others with associated motion. In addition, certain types of motion verbs were found to be compatible with different temporal relationships that hold between the activity of the primary verb and the motional component. Finally, the grammatical role of the figure in such constructions depends on both the temporal relationship and the semantics of the verb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-388
Number of pages44
JournalLinguistic Typology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • Tibeto-Burman
  • associated motion
  • direction
  • grammar
  • pragmatics
  • semantics
  • typology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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