Cognitive Schemata and Discourse Perspective in Use of Motion Verbs Prefixes

Valentina Zaitseva, New York University

In this paper I intend to undertake the analysis of Langacker's concept of PROFILING and investigate its function at discourse level. Specifically, I would address contextual polysemy and variations in use of some prefixes ( za–, v–, pro–) which not only depict the images or schemata of motion, but also convey information about the speech participants.

I will use the material from Russian films (both video–images and texts) which point to a peculiar correlation between the meaning of a prefix and discourse identity of the speaker. Thus, in Sluzhebnyj Roman a secretary, Vera, following the order of the director, ask A. E. Novosel'cev to come see the director via intercom:

(1) Vera: Anatalij Efremovich! Zajdite, pozhalujsta, k Kaluginoj.

It is unthinkable to translate zajdite k Kaluginoj in (1) as "drop by Kalugina." I will describe the function of za– in this and other contexts as well as interaction of the meaning of the prefix with the verbal aspect and speech act conventions.

In the next episode, Novosel'cev timidly stands near the door in the secretary's room afraid to enter the director's office. Vera encourages him, saying:

(2 a) Vera: Vxodite. Vxodite , ne bojtes'!

(2b) *Zaxodite. Zaxodite, ne bojtes'!

The striking feature of the unacceptable (2b) is in the immediate change of the speaker's role: if Vera used "zaxodite," she would step out of her secretary's role and assume that of the director.

"Profiling" of the same event in a different way is illustrated in (3), an episode from Rebro Adama, in which a deceived wife is talking to her husband's deceived lover:

(3) Oni uleteli na jug s vashej podrugoj, Marinoj. Ona vyletela vchera za nim sledom. Oni v Jalte.

How much of "profiling" (e.g., uleteli vs. vyletela) depends on the participants' knowledge of the discourse situation (including the speaker's social/discourse identities)? How does the meaning (or semantic invariant, as defined in Zaitseva 1995) interacts with that knowledge?

In this study, I will present an overview of visual and textual data showing contextual features contributing to the speaker's conceptualization both of the event and of the discourse situation.