Cutting and Breaking the Embodied Self

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper analyzes the Cutting and Breaking (C&B) events affecting the tangible aspects of the personal domain, that is to say the body and its parts. The study of the embodied Self, as the affected theme of C&B events, provides a unique opportunity to contribute to the understanding of the conceptualization of the personal domain, as well as providing an additional distinction between cut-verbs and break-verbs. First, I propose to re-analyze three arguments of the C&B literature under the light of Talmy’s different levels of synthesis (2000). I propose that cut-verbs can be distinguished from break-verbs based on the level of synthesis of the affected theme they encode. I support this argument with a corpus-based analysis of a series of syntactic-semantic tests. Second, while English does not have morphosyntactic strategies to make a distinction between alienable and inalienable possessions, I argue that the participation of C&B events affecting the corporeal Self to specific argument structure alternations (causatives – reflexives – possessor raising) shows that the distinction is syntactically encoded in the English language. Third, I analyze a testimony of a FGC/FGM1 victim and demonstrate the sociocultural relevance of the distinction proposed in this paper.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 27
Publication categoryResearch