The Lexicon of Transitive Verbs of Motion and the Asymmetry Between Goal and Source PPs

Simonetta Vietri


The aim of this research is to verify the hypotheses on the asymmetry between source and goal PPs from both a syntactic and a cognitive point of view.

Nam’s (2004) syntactic analysis shows that Goal PPs behave like adjuncts while Source PPs are internal arguments. Lakusta and Landau’s (2005) cognitive experimental research reveals the tendency in speakers to express Goal paths over Source paths. Landau (2010) suggests that one of the causes of this asymmetry might be related to the lexicon: are there more attachment verbs than detachment verbs? If so, the more frequent exposure to goal paths would explain the goal bias.

For this purpose I have classified approximately 500 Italian transitive verbs of motion, the analysis of which revealed that verbs showing a goal pattern account for the vast majority in the lexicon, but also that goal verbs and source verbs behave differently with respect to such properties as transitive-intransitive pronominal alternation and subject alternation. The former is much more frequent with goal verbs, while the latter is applicable only to goal verbs.

Furthermore, the application of diagnostics like topicalization and pro-form confirms the syntactic asymmetry between source and goal PPs.

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2020 Simonetta Vietri

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

Copyright © Macrothink Institute ISSN 1948-5425

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.