Aspect & Metaphor

Principal investigator: Svetlana Sokolova

Project title: Aspect and Metaphor

Summary of the project:

Recent studies have shown that there are frequent formal differences between metaphorical and literal uses of the same words (Deignan 2005, Steen 2007). This project focuses on the relation between metaphor and aspect, by addressing the following questions:

  • Does metaphorical and non-metaphorical content find different expression on the constructional level? The study of the Locative Alternation verbs reveals that metaphorical extensions have a strong relationship with elaborations (interactions between different constructions) and reduction (Locative Alternation constructions with a reduced or omitted participant).
  • Is it true that conventional metaphors are more concerned about the resultative state of the Theme rather than about the process that the Theme undergoes? As a result, are Russian secondary imperfectives used metaphorically more often than primary imperfectives? Cf. sad utopaet (??tonet) v zeleni ‘the garden is buried in verdure’.
  • Do passive participles reinforce the holistic effect associated with a construction and block some metaphorical patterns? For instance, human beings are more likely to serve as metaphorical containers than as metaphorical surfaces. As a result, a person can be filled up with a metaphorical substance like work (On za-gružen rabotoj ‘He is loaded with work’), but is unlikely to be completely covered with a metaphorical substance like jokes (?On za-sypan šutkami ‘He is showered (lit. strewn) with jokes’.

Project duration: 2012 – present

Key publications:

Sokolova, Svetlana (2017). When Three Is Company: The Relation Between Aspect and Metaphor in Russian Aspectual Triplets. International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (ICLC-14), University of Tartu, Estonia, July 10-14, 2017.

Sokolova, Svetlana (2013). Verbal Prefixation and Metaphor: How Does Metaphor Interact with Constructions? Journal of Slavic Linguistics, (Aspect in Slavic: Creating Time, Creating Grammar). Volume 21 (1), pp. 171-204. ISSN 1068-2090:

Sokolova, Svetlana (2012). Asymmetries in Linguistic Construal: Russian Prefixes and the Locative Alternation.D. dissertation. The Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, University of Tromsø. 230 pp. Available at:

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