Jean-Christophe Verstraete

1University of Leuven

Citation Information. Cognitive Linguistics. Volume 22, Issue 2, Pages 275–302, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: 10.1515/COGL.2011.011, /May/2011
Publication History: Received: 29/12/2009; revised: 26/07/2010; published online: 17/04/2011


This paper is a semantic analysis of ‘experienced action’ constructions in Umpithamu, a Paman language from Cape York Peninsula (Australia). The basic argument is that these constructions are related to the better-attested category of experiencer object constructions (e.g. Evans, Non-nominative subjects 1: 69–192, 2004), which in Umpithamu describe involuntary experience of bodily processes. Experienced action constructions extend the feature of ‘involuntary experience’ from processes within the body to actions originating outside the body, and thus provide a semantically marked alternative for standard transitive clauses. The constructions are typologically interesting because they show the need to identify different loci of experiential semantics in a construction, and they help to clarify the status of control for human Undergoers within semantic typologies of reduced transitivity.