Linguistic typology of motion events in visual narratives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Languages use different strategies to encode motion. Some use particles or "satellites"to describe a path of motion (Satellite-framed or S-languages like English), while others typically use the main verb to convey the path information (Verb-framed or V-languages like French). We here ask: might this linguistic variation lead to differences in the way paths are depicted in visual narratives like comics? We analyzed a corpus of 85 comics originally created by speakers of S-languages (comics from the United States, China, Germany) and V-languages (France, Japan, Korea) for both their depictions of path segments (source, route, and goal) and the visual cues signaling these paths and manner information (e.g., motion lines and postures). Panels from S-languages depicted more path segments overall, especially routes, than those from V-languages, but panels from V-languages more often isolated path segments into their own panels. Additionally, comics from S-languages depicted more motion cues than those from V-languages, and this linguistic typology also interacted with panel framing. Despite these differences across typological groups, analysis of individual countries' comics showed more nuanced variation than a simple S-V dichotomy. These findings suggest a possible influence of spoken language structure on depicting motion events in visual narratives and their sequencing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-222
Number of pages26
JournalCognitive Semiotics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022


  • visual language
  • linguistic typology
  • motion events
  • comics
  • corpus linguistics


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