Space and metaphor in verbs prefixed with od-/ot- ‘from’ in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and Bulgarian

  • Ljiljana Šarić
  • Ivelina Tchizmarova


This article analyzes Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) and Bulgarian (Blg.) verbs prefixed with od /ot- ‘(away) from’ from a cognitive linguistics perspective, focusing on spatial meaning extensions into non-spatial domains, as well as similarities and differences between the languages in question. The prototypical sense of these verbs involves a path and can be presented as a trajector (TR) moving away from a landmark (LM), often a LM-boundary. This from schema is illustrated by BCS/Blg. otići/otida ‘go (away)’ and odalečiti se/otdaleča se ‘go/move away’. Most non-spatial meanings of od /ot- verbs are derived by applying the idea of movement through space or a spatial path to a metaphorical or figurative movement/path—for example, BCS/Blg. odustati od/otkaža se ot ‘refuse, give up’ and odskakati od (impf.) /otliča se ot ‘stand out, be different from’—in which the verbs often co-occur with the prepositions od/ot. Our analysis shows that the various meanings of verbs with od /ot- are not random collections of senses, but form semantic networks with systematic and partially predictable associations of abstract ideas and spatial locations.