Neste artigo, investigamos a expressão da “contradirecionalidade”, contrastando dados do português brasileiro com o holandês. Num primeiro momento, definimos contradirecionalidade usando dados do inglês, e apresentamos algumas de suas subdivisões que serão então investigadas no português brasileiro e no holandês.


In the semantics of verbs and verbal modification, there is a domain that we might characterize, following Fabricius-Hansen (2001) as counterdirectional. It involves the description of processes that are in some sense opposite in direction to what is common or presupposed. We find in this domain such expressions in English as the adverbs back, backward(s), and again and the prefixes re- and counter-. A detailed study of back is offered in Allan (1995) from a cognitive linguistic perspective. There are some typological studies of this domain (Lichtenberk 1991, Wälchli 2006, Moise-Faurie 2012); the concept BACK also plays a role in grammaticalization theory (Heine &Kuteva 2002). The most intensive study is made at the interface of semantics and syntax, with a focus on the so-called repetitive and restitutive meanings of again and its German counterpart wieder (e.g., Dowty 1979, Von Stechow 1996, Beck 2005, Pedersen 2014).

In this paper we want to contribute to the understanding of this domain on the basis of a comparison of Brazilian Portuguese (BP) and Dutch. Based on a rough inventory and map of counterdirectional senses that we identify for English (section 2), we want to determine what type of markers these languages use to express counterdirectionality and how these markers distribute over the map of senses (section 3). Our goal is to show how these two languages divide up the same set of meanings in sometimes different ways, exhibiting opposite diachronic developments for some of the markers (section 4). Since the concept of counterdirectionality has not been extensively discussed and defined in the literature and is still somewhat vague, another goal of this paper is to make the domain of counterdirectional meaning more precise by replacing it with a family of well-defined semantic categories that are then applied to the two languages in focus.

1. Counterdirectional senses in English

There is not a systematic semantic study of the different senses in the counterdirectional domain. What senses need to be distinguished and how do these senses hang together? All studies distinguish the restitutive and repetitive sense, but apart from that, there is less consensus, which makes the notion of counterdirectionalitystill somewhat vague. It is important to realize that counterdirectionality is not one single concept, but a family of closely related semantic categories. What we offer in this section is an overview of six senses from this family, inspired by the existing literature. English will be our object language in this section and we focus, more specifically, on the adverbs back, backward(s), and again when used in combination with verbs or verb phrases. We identify six senses: rearward, retrograde, returnative, responsive, restitutive, and repetitive.

The rearward sense obtains most clearly when a person moves or leans in the direction of his or her back, that is, with the back leading. This is where English has back or backward(s) (Allan 1995).


a. Dunworthy stepped backward and crashed into a six- year-old holding a plush Santa. (Connie Willis – The Doomsday Book)

b. In the hunting lodge at Dachigam, Max Ophuls reclining on carpets and cushions leaned backward, away from the Indian foreign minister, to whisper to Edgar Wood. (Salman Rushdie – Shalimar The Clown)

c. Gravity dragged at her and she fell backward on the bed, gasping for air. (Salman Rushdie – Shalimar The Clown)

d. I sat back in my chair.


It seems that backward(s) is the productive adverb for this sense and that back is the more lexicalized form, restricted to certain verbs.

Note that these expressions can be used to describe a situation in which a person goes to places where he or she has not been before. This makes the rearward sense different from the returnative sense that we will discuss below. In order to clarify what we should understand by rearward (and also the other senses that we’ll see shortly), consider the following figures. In these figures we have a sketch of a path, with a source and a goal, an arrow above the figure indicating direction of movement, and finally the direction which the figure is facing. For the rearward sense, we have two possibilities, as shown by figures 1 and 2:

Figure 1.

The rearward situation 1

Figure 2.

The rearward situation 2

As we can see, the rearward sense is independent of the source or of the goal of a path, but it has to do with moving in the direction of one’s back (i.e. contrary to the direction one is facing).

Then there is a sense that we would like to call retrograde. This is a movement or process that happens in the opposite direction to what is usual for the verb or context.1


a. I counted backwards from 5.

b. The movie is told backwards.

c. If the scientist was also versed in theology, he or she might see how this cosmogonic event could be construed as a backward-in-time emanation from a future “Omega point” that has some of the properties traditionally ascribed to the Judeo-Christian deity.(Jim Holt – Why does the world exist?)


We count numbers, watch movies, and move through time in a particular ‘direction’, in the general sense of an ordering of elements in a particular domain, be it space, time, or numbers. If we follow the opposite direction in those domains, then we are dealing with the variety of counterdirectionality that we call retrograde. For human beings, going backward (with the back leading) is opposite to the usual direction (forward, with the face leading), hence every rearward motion is also a retrograde movement. In this way, rearward and retrograde are closely linked logically.

The most frequent sense of back is a sense that we call returnative (others call it reditive, Moyse-Faurie 2012). It helps to describe a movement to a former location or counterdirectionally along an earlier path.


a. She showered and went back to Elysian Park, to Santa Monica and Vine, to 29 Palms. (Salman Rushdie – Shalimar The Clown)

b. The soldiers relaxed. Later that afternoon all three Nomans were on a bus back home. (Salman Rushdie – Shalimar The Clown)

c. I went back a few steps.


Suppose a path p is presupposed which the theme has traversed in a salient earlier event and that p0 is the source of this path. One prototypical possibility is that the theme follows this presupposed path in the opposite direction, all the way to the source p0. Two returnative senses are possible as weaker versions of this prototype: (i) the theme goes to the source p0 via a different path, (ii) the theme follows the path p in opposite direction only partially. We will not further explore these subsenses here. There is a close relation between the returnative and the rearward sense: stereotypically, returning to a former location or along a former path means moving in a direction that one’s back was oriented towards (Allan 1995).This explains how the use of the word back has been extended from the rearward sense (closely related to the nominal back sense) to the returnative sense.

The following figures aim at clarifying the returnative sense. Figure 3 illustrates what is probably the most prototypical exemplification of the returnative sense, in which one returns to the source of the earlier path taken after turning his/her body and now facing the source. Figure 4 shows another possibility of the returnative sense, closely related to the rearward sense, in which one is moving back to the source but without turning his/her body, i.e. facing the goal but moving towards the source with the back leading. For this sense, what matters is the direction of the path more than the direction in which one is facing.

Figure 3.

Closely related to the returnative sense is the responsive sense, indicating that an action from A to B is the response to an earlier action of B to A.


a. Her mother was calling to her from the far side of the globe. Her mother who didn’t die. Kashmira, her mother called, come home. I’m coming, she called back. I’ll be there as fast as I can. (Salman Rushdie – Shalimar The Clown)

b. A boy kicked Quentin in the shins, but he didn’t kick back.


It is Kashmira’s call in (4a) that is ‘going back’ to her mother (not Kashmira herself) and it is a kick of Quentin in (4b) that is denied to have ‘gone back’ (not Quentin himself). We can understand the responsive sense as involving abstract paths from agent to patient along which the action goes. The counterdirectionality of the responsive sense is no longer defined spatially, but a previous path of action from B to A is followed by a path of action from A to B. In other words, there is an abstract notion of directionality that is shared between motion (from source to goal) and action (from agent to patient) and hence between the concepts of returning and responding, which closely relates the returnative and responsive senses.2

It is a relatively small step from the spatial domain to the domain of change. This is where we find the so-called restitutive senses of again and back.


a. “Alas, there are many who do not love God in these days,” Lady Yvolde said, “but we must pray to God that He will set the world right and bring men again to virtue.” (Connie Willis – The Doomsday Book)

b. The noise jarred him back awake. (McIntyre 2012)

The change can be along a continuous scale or in a domain of discrete values (e.g. ‘asleep’ and ‘awake’). In both cases the change can be seen as unfolding directionally along a path, in a non-spatial domain. As a result, motion and change share general properties of directionality and therefore also the returnative and restitutive concepts.3 Again is typically used in English here, but back is also possible (Beck et al. 2009, McIntyre 2012).

Finally, we arrive at the repetitive sense, expressed with again in English, or with once more, once again, or anew:


a. He stopped in midsentence. “Without what?” she teased him, guessing the unspoken words, but he blushed again and concentrated on the road ahead. Without a woman’s touch. (Salman Rushdie – Shalimar The Clown)

b. “The trial is once more delayed,” Kivrin heard Gawyn say. “The judge who was to hear it is taken ill.” (Connie Willis – The Doomsday Book)

c. The nurse led him out. “If he wakes and calls for you again, where can you be reached?” she asked. (Connie Willis – The Doomsday Book)

d. The door opened again.


In this case the existence of a previous event of the same type as the described event is presupposed. Since again can be used both for the restitutive and the repetitive sense, a well-known ambiguity can be seen in (6d): in the repetitive sense the door had opened before and that change of state is repeated, and in the restitutive sense the door was open before and that state is restituted. There is obviously a close relationship between these two senses, because the restitution of a state implies the repetition of a state. This has fact led people to an analysis with one repetitive again, that depending on the position in a syntactic structure, can lead to repetitive or restitutive interpretations (e.g. Von Stechow 1996). For our purposes it is sufficient to recognize that in a restitution there is always a repetition. If the door had been open before and later on there is a change from shut to open (a restitution), then also the state of being open is being repeated. This motivates a link between the restitutive and repetitive senses. See Pedersen (2014) for more discussion about the inferential relation between repetition and restitution.

We can summarize the senses we have discussed in this section as a network or map in the sense of Haspelmath (2003) and Zwarts (2010):

Figure 4.

The network of counterdirectional senses

In this network the lines represent different ways in which the senses are related, but always in such a way that the senses that are most closely related are connected by a line. Because of this, we see something of a coherent domain appearing. Different languages express these senses in different ways. We have seen how English uses backward(s) for the rearward/retrograde corner, back for the returnive/responsive/ restitutive part, and again for the restitutive/repetitive side.

Figure 5.

Lexicalization of counterdirectional senses in English

The map allows us to hypothesize that the set of senses covered by back has developed from the etymologically primary rearward sense, closely related to the notion of the human back (Allan 1995), to a range of more abstract senses.

Much more discussion about and refinement of these senses is necessary and possible, but we think that this map offers a good basis to turn now to a detailed exploration of the data in Brazilian Portuguese and Dutch.

2. Counterdirectionality in Brazilian Portuguese and Dutch

2.1 The rearward sense

We are dealing with the rearward sense when a person, animal or object is moving in the direction of its back.

In BP the rearward sense is usually expressed with the verb recuar or the adverbials para trás44 and de costas when combined with verbs of movement. It is important to notice that although recuar55 begins with re-, one can argue that we don’t have a ‘re-’ prefix in this case because there is no verb cuar in BP.6 Recuar can be translated into English as ‘retreat’ or ‘recede’, and it always implies rearward movement, but not necessarily a movement towards some source.

De costas indicates backwards (or contrary to the usual) direction, for instance, when somebody swims de costas her back is in the water but not her belly, and when somebody sleeps de costas her belly is on the bed but not her back. Finally, when somebody walks de costas it means the she is moving in the direction of her back but facing front, as in the following example:


Indiano anda de costas por 25 anos e esquece como é andar para frente.7

Indian person walks backwards for 25 years and forgets how to walk forwards.


The adverbial para trás can also be used to indicate the rearward sense, as in the following examples:


a. Cair para trás

‘to fall in the direction of one’s back (backward fall)’

b. Andar para trás

‘to walk in the direction of one’s back without turning’


The expressions de costas and para trás have a wide range of uses and here we’re considering only their so to say spatial-movement interpretations. It’s important to note that para trás has also a retrograde sense, as we’ll see in section 3.2.


a. João recuou.

João went back (leant back)

b. João andou de costas, mantendo contato visual com seu irmão.

João walked back (in a backward manner) keeping eye contact with his brother.


In Dutch we find two adverbs: terug lit. to-back ‘back’ and achteruit lit. behind-out ‘backwards’.


a. Jan deinsde terug.

Jan shrank terug

‘John shrank back’

b. Jan reed achteruit.

Jan drove achteruit

‘John drove backwards’

Achteruit is the productive adverb, possible with an open ended range of verbs, while terug is restricted to a small number of verbs, often with special meanings (e.g. terugslaan lit. back hit ‘backfire’ of a gun). The verb root deinzen is a ‘cranberry morpheme’, it does not occur apart from one of the rearward adverbs terug and achteruit.

As a summary, what we have here for the expression of the rearward sense is two adverbs for Dutch (achteruit and terug), and for BP some verbal forms (such as recuar), and adverbials such as de costas and para trás – the first one of them more specialized for the rearward sense.

2.2 The retrograde sense

Another area where we see counter directionality is when a movement or process happens opposite to the usual direction. This could be seen as a generalization of the rearward sense, as we said earlier.

First BP. In this language, we find the expressions de trás para frente, para trás, ao contrário and also re- forms.


a. Você consegue contar de 0 a 100 de trás para frente/ao contrário?

Can you count from 0 to 100 backwards (i.e., from back to front)/on the contrary?

b. pedalar para trás / pedalar ao contrário

to backpedal (i.e., to pedal to the back) / to pedalon the contrary

c. virar para trás / virar ao contrário/ reverter8

to turn back / to turn on the contrary / to reverse

The expression de trás para frente, which literally means ‘from back/ behind to front/face’, implies some sort of pre-ordering and it indicates that this ordering is being followed backwards, such that the end is now the beginning. This is particularly clear in the example (11a) in which the natural endpoint (100) is now the beginning, and also when someone follows a recipe de trás para frente, beginning with what is supposed to be the final step.

BP also has the expression ao contrário (‘on the contrary’, ‘contrariwise’) which has a wider range of uses and it simply indicates that something is being performed in the opposite of the natural way; that’s why one can backpedal (pedalar ao contrário, i.e. pedal contrariwise). It’s possible also to find para trás for the expression of the retrograde sense, which confirms that the rearward and the retrograde senses are connected.

In Dutch we find here achteruit and terug again, but also a more complex expression like van achternaarvoren ‘from back to front’.


a. Kun jij van honderd tot één terug tellen?

can you from hundred to one terug count

‘Can you count backwards from 100?’

b. Een palindroom kan van achter naar voren gelezen worden

A palindrome can van achternaarvoren read be

‘A palindrome can be read backwards.’

c. De klok gaat morgen achteruit

The clock goes tomorrow achteruit

‘The clock goes back tomorrow.’

We can conclude that a lot is still unclear about the precise conditions under which one expression or the other is chosen for the meaning that we call retrograde. Collocation and lexicalization might play a role here. Terug only seems to be possible with certain verbs (like tellen ‘count’), while van achternaarvoren and achteruit are more productive. The choice between van achternaarvoren and achteruit might be determined by additional features, such as the dimensionality and directionality of the underlying domain. A word is a one-dimensional object, in a sense, with a front and back; a clock has a more complex dimensionality, and although there is a clear directionality in the way the hands move (‘clockwise’), there are no front and back sides to it.

The specialized expression for the retrograde sense in BP is de trás para frente, alongside with expressions such as ao contrário and para trás which have a wider range of uses. For Dutch what we find are again the items achteruit and terug, and the more complex and specialized expression van achternaarvoren.

2.3 The returnative sense

The returnative sense involves a presupposition that the theme has been at an earlier position or has made an earlier movement; the theme is going to the position where it has been before or it follows a path that it has gone before in the opposite direction.

For the returnative sense, in BP we find the adverbial expression de volta, and the verbs voltar and tornar, and also constructions with the prefix re-, which are usually more lexically specialized.


a. Os convidados voltaram / retornaram para casa.

The guests went back/returned home.

b. pôr de volta / recolocar

to put back / re-place (put something back in its original place)

c. devolver / retornar / dar de volta

return (devolve) / return / give something back


In BP, the verb voltar and movement verbs prefixed with re-, such as retornar, are the common choice to express the returnative sense, which can also be expressed via constructions with the noun volta, in expressions such as de volta.

The form voltar is directly related to the Latin form *voltare99, which basically means ‘to roll’, ‘to spin’, ‘to revolve’, and nowadays in BP its basic meaning involves something or someone going back to its source or initial position. There are also some options with the prefix re-: re- colocar (which is transparent for re-put ‘put back’or ‘put again (in the original place)’), and re-tornar (which is not transparent, since the verb tornar means ‘to turn’). As we saw with the other senses, usually the re- forms are more formal, probably because they are lexically specialized.

In Dutch we only find terug here (although older Dutch still had weder here or its contraction weer, the cognate of German wieder).


a. De feestgangers liepen naar huis terug.

the party-goers walked to home terug

‘The party-goers walked back home.’

b. Jan is terug.

Jan is terug

‘John is back.’

c. Je moet het boek terug leggen

you must the book teruglay

‘You have to put the book back.’

d. Ik wil de auto terug geven

I want the car terug give

‘I want to give back the car.’


In both languages, the options for the returnative sense seem to be restricted – terug for Dutch and constructions based on the verb voltar in BP. It is interesting to note that Dutch and BP have different etymological sources for the returnative sense. While the Dutch returnative expression derives from the word for the posterior body part (rug ‘back)’, the BP returnative expressions derive from roots describing a rotation (of the human body). This might be a more general difference between Germanic and Romance languages, witness the English word back and French retour. As we’ll see in the next section, the returnative sense is closely connected to the responsive sense.

2.4 The responsive sense

This sense can be seen as a thematic extension of the returnative sense, as we saw in section 2.

Again, for BP what we find is de volta and some re- compounds:


a. Ela escreveu de volta, dizendo que estava vindo.

She wrote back, saying that she was coming.

b. Ela respondeu / retornou [more formal], dizendo que estava vindo.

She answered / returned, saying that she was coming.

c. chutar de volta / devolver a bola

to kick back / to return the ball

d. responder

to answer (back)


In Dutch we find terug:


a. Zij schreef terug dat ze kwam.

she wrote terug that she came

‘She wrote back to say that she was coming.’

b. Hij schopte de bal terug.

he kicked the ball terug

‘He kicked the ball back.’

c. We moeten de buren terug vragen na onze visite.

We must the neighbours terug ask after our visit

‘We must return the invitation of the neighbours after our visit.’


In each case terug triggers a presupposition that there was an earlier event in which the subject received a letter (16a), the ball (16b), or an invitation (16c) and that the sentence describes a response directed towards the agent/source of that earlier event.

Basically, what we see in both languages is that the verbs or adverbs that are used for the returnative sense can also receive a responsive interpretation. This might suggest that the responsive sense is a special case of the more general returnative sense, rather than a special historical development.

2.5 The restitutive sense

In the restitutive sense an earlier state is restored or an earlier process is reversed. Consider the following sentence in BP which expresses the restitutive sense:


João dormiu e acordou de novo /novamente/ mais uma vez / outra vez às 2 a.m.

João slept and woke up again / one more time / another time at 2 a.m.


In BP we find the expressions de novo, novamente, outra vez, and mais uma vez here, where similar expressions in English, German, Dutch are only used for the repetitive sense.

In standard Dutch mostly weer is used here, but terug is possible with certain verbs and in non-standard Belgian Dutch terug is used much more productively for the restitutive sense. In addition we find the prefix her- ‘re-’.


a. Hij werd terug/weer wakker.

he became terug/weerawake

‘He woke up again (after having fallen asleep).’

b. De stad moet terug/weer worden opgebouwd.

the town must terug/weerbe build-up

‘The town must be build up again.’

c. Het deksel kan eenvoudig geopend en terug/weer gesloten worden.

the lid can simply opened and terug/weer closed be

‘The lid can be opened and closed again in a simply way.’

d. De stad werd heroverd.

The town was her-captured

‘The town must be recaptured.’


Concluding, BP has a number of expressions to mark restitutive change: de novo, novamente, outra vez, mais uma vez. Dutch has three forms: weer and her- in standard Dutch, and terug in non-Belgian Dutch. None of the three Dutch forms are specific for the restitutive sense, but they are (terug) or were (weer) also used for the returnative sense and as we will see in the next section, the BP expressions that we discussed here are also used for the repetitive sense.

2.6 Repetitive sense

At the border of the counterdirectional domain we find the repetitive sense.

For BP, we find the exact same expressions as we saw in the last section, about the restitituve sense, namely de novo, novamente, outra vez, mais uma vez, and also some re- forms lexically specialized.


Não devemos nunca mais nos ver de novo / novamente / outra vez.

We should never see each other again / another time.


As a first approximation, we can say that the difference between repetitive and restitutive sense in BP is not dependent on the adverbial chosen, but on the form of the verb. Consider again the verb abrir (‘to open’), and the two sentences below:

(19) A porta abriu.

The door opened.

(20) A porta está aberta.

The door is opened


Sentence (20) means basically the same thing as sentence (19), but the difference is that (19) emphasizes the opening event and (20) the state of being open (aberta is the feminine past participle form of the verb abrir). Both sentences can be combined with de novo/novamente ‘again’, outra vez ‘another time’ and mais uma vez ‘once more’/‘one more time’:

(19’) A porta abriu de novo / outra vez / mais uma vez.

(20’) A porta está aberta de novo / outra vez / mais uma vez.

Although both sentences are ambiguous between a restitutive and a repetitive sense, sentence (19’) is interpreted more often with the repetitive sense, and sentence in (20’) with the restitutive sense.

In standard Dutch we find weer, but in non-standard Belgian Dutch terug is possible too. In addition, we also find in standard Dutch the possibility of using opnieuw ‘anew’ or nogeenkeer ‘yet another time (lit. turn)’, specifically for the repetitive sense, as well. The latter adverbs are always stressed while weer and terug can remain unstressed. This also affects the syntactic positions of these items, which we will not discuss here. Finally, the prefix her- also figures here.


a. Het voorstel is terug/weer/opnieuw/nog een keer afgewezen.

the proposal is terug/weer/opnieuw/nog een keer rejected

‘The proposals has been rejected again.’

b. Volgend jaar vindt het congres terug/weer/opnieuw/nog een keer in Gent plaats.

next year finds the congress terug/weer/opnieuw/nog een keer in Gent place

‘Next year the congress will take place in Ghent again.’

c. Ik heb het boek herlezen.

I have the book her-read

‘I reread the book.’


In standard Dutch, terug is only possible in the repetitive sense with the verbs bellen ‘phone’ and zien ‘see’ (and so are weer, opnieuw, nogeenkeer):



a. Wij zullen elkaar nooit terug zien. we shall each-other never terugsee ‘We shall never see each other again.’

b. Hij nam niet op dus ik zal hem terug bellen.

hetook not up so I will him terugcall

‘He did not answer, so I will call him again’


With the repetitive sense, the number of different terms used is relatively rich. We find five different forms in the Dutch language area and four different expressions in BP. The different terms might not be fully equivalent. In addition to differences in register or region, there might be differences in syntactic and prosodic behavior, and items might also have a collocational connection with particular verbs.


Some of our conclusions are shown in the table and figures below; first, a simple tabular comparison between Dutch and Brazilian Portuguese, and then a schematic depicture of the distribution of the expressions over the map of senses in both languages. In Table 1 we summarize the expressions that we have found for the six senses. Parentheses enclose items that are archaic or regional.


Counterdirectional expressions in Brazilian Portuguese and Dutch

REAWARD re-, de costas, para trás achteruit, terug
RETROGRADE re-, de trás para frente, ao contrário, para trás achteruit, terug
RETURNATIVE re-, de volta, voltar, tornar terug, (weer)
RESPONSIVE re-, de volta, devolver, voltar terug
RESTITUTIVE re-, de novo, novamente, outra vez, mais uma vez weer, her-, (terug)
REPETITIVE re-, de novo, novamente, outra vez, mais uma vez weer, her-, opnieuw, nog een keer, (terug)

The (standard, modern) Dutch situation is represented in Figure 7. In Belgian Dutch terug covers the whole map and in more archaic Dutch, weer also covers the returnative sense.

Figure 6.

Counterdirectionality in Dutch

The Brazilian Portuguese situation is found in Figure 8. We do not represent the distribution of the prefix re-, that covers the whole map.

Figure 7.

Counterdirectionality in Brazilian Portuguese

As we can see, these two languages divide up the space of meanings in quite different ways. While BP has kept the senses we explored in this paper in three clearly separated categories (namely, (i) rearward and retrograde, (ii) returnative and responsive, and (iii) restitutive and repetitive), Dutch is a bit more complicated, because it shows overlapping categories. Nevertheless, each of the lexical regions in both languages is constrained by covering a contiguous set of senses, an important property for semantic maps (Haspelmath 2003).

Interestingly, Brazilian Portuguese and Dutch have partially followed different trajectories in how they express meanings in the domain of counterdirectionality. There is not one unique path of historical development leading from the most concrete ‘back’ notion to more abstract notions, but counterdirectional expressions are recruited from different semantic sources. In BP the idea of rotation is very important, as attested by the forms based on voltar, and this is the base for the returnative and responsive senses.10 In Dutch, however, ‘back’ is the source for these senses, while the role of ‘back’ is more limited in BP. There are also strong similarities in the way ‘new’ (novo, nieuw is used for the repetitive sense. An important finding is that BP has extended this use also to the restitutive sense.

It would be interesting to find out what types of expressions other languages recruit to express different senses in the counterdirectional domain, in addition to English, BP, and Dutch. There is some typological literature that shows how a verb for ‘return’ can develop into a returnative or repetitive marker in many languages (Lichtenberk 1991, Moyse-Faurie 2012). As far as we know, the reverse direction of inquiry has not been explored: start with the different senses within the counterdirectional domain, to find out how they are expressed in different languages (although Wälchli’s 2006 exploration of parallel corpora based on the gospel of Mark could be a good starting point here).

Although our theoretical basis in this paper is informal and the our treatment of the data restricted in certain ways, we believe to have shown that there is a coherent (sub)domain of senses that can be studied across languages with interesting results for typology and lexical semantics, and potentially also for grammaticalization theory and morphosyntax. More work is needed to understand the way counterdirectional elements are specialized for particular verbs or senses in ways that go beyond the six senses identified here. Also, the differences between BP and Dutch need to be put in a broader historical and typological context, taking into account other Germanic and Romance languages.


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