11 Aug 2023
I presented this week at the 16th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference, held in Düsseldorf, Germany. This was my first time visiting Germany, so it was a real adventure! My presentation was on a new project of mine exploring the history of words like French allez ‘go’, motion verbs that have come to be used as discourse markers. Across Romance, there’s some interesting variety in the number of words like this. Spanish and (especially European) Portuguese use several motion verbs as discourse markers, while French only uses one and Romanian doesn’t use any (other Romance languages generally lie somewhere in the middle). In this presentation, I focused on medieval French, where venir ‘come’ was also used as a discourse marker alongside aller ‘go’. My analysis is that over time, the number of verbs used in this way tends to decrease as the metaphor linking motion to discourse becomes bleached, and that French has undergone this change faster than other Romance languages. This would align with some other areas where we see French having undergone more rapid change than its relatives.