Motion into and out of in English, French and Norwegian

Thomas Egan, Anne-Line Graedler


This paper presents a contrastive study of Norwegian predications of motion events with the compound prepositions ut av (‘out of’) and inn i (‘into’) and their translations into English and French. The motivation for choosing these two types of predication is that French, unlike English, is said to avoid the use of manner verbs with boundary-crossing events. The paper examines all occurrences in the Oslo Multilingual Corpus (OMC) of self-motion predications containing the two Norwegian prepositions, in all of which path is coded in the prepositional phrase. The verb may also code path, it may code manner, or it may be a neutral verb of movement. We first analyse the Norwegian originals with respect to their coding of path and manner and then turn to the two sets of translations and investigate the extent to which they retain the manner/path coding choices of the source predications and, if not, what sort of alterations they make. If the contention that French avoids manner verbs with boundary-crossing actions is correct, the French translations should exhibit a much greater degree of path or neutral motion coding in the verb than either the Norwegian originals or the English translations. The data show that this is indeed the case. There are also, however, more occurrences of manner verbs in French with boundary-crossing actions than one would expect given the language’s reputation in the literature for avoiding this construction.

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