Analysis English Language

Intro to Lexical Typology

Aidan Aannestad is one more name on the long list of people who discovered linguistics through Tolkien, and he’s been conlanging ever since that seventh grade discovery. He’s learned a lot about linguistics since then, though, and now holds a BA in it from the University of Texas and is partway through a graduate degree. He holds himself (and sometimes others) to a very high standard of realism in his work, and he’s always striving to get a more complete perspective on the enormous variety found in the world’s natlangs. His creative output is so far mostly limited to the minimally-documented, though fairly well fleshed-out Emihtazuu language and its ancestors, but he hopes to someday increase his productivity and make a full linguistic area with multiple interacting families. He also speaks Japanese, and will happily discuss its history and mechanics for hours with anyone interested. He’s been on-and-off a member of a number of conlanging communities, and these days is most likely to be found on one of the relevant Facebook groups or lurking in the conlang mailing list.


This article is a reprocessing and rewriting of an article by Leonard Talmy on the field of lexical typology, with a focus on its relevance for conlanging. Lexical typology is the study of how languages pattern their lexemes, and how those patterns can vary across languages. This article specifically focuses on verbs, especially motion verbs, and presents a variety of ways that languages can handle motion and other kinds of state changes, with some notes on wider applications of the principles involved.

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