Publication Date

Fall 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Linguistics and Language Development


Roula Svorou

Subject Areas



The semantic domain of separation events has been studied for a number of languages. In this thesis, a study on how Modern Greek expresses separation events and how semantically distinct they are from other languages is presented. This is the first study on the semantic features of separation events for Modern Greek. Furthermore, it is the only study so far on separation events for which data have been gathered from a large number of native speakers. Thus, this thesis not only offers a great insight on the language’s semantic structures, but it also presents more concrete observations and conclusions compared to previous studies on separation events. Four types of major separation events are examined for Modern Greek: breaking, cutting, tearing, and opening. Using the data from a study in which 35 Greek speakers describe 61 videos showing actions of separation, I examine the semantic structures of the verbs found in their responses. Furthermore, I take a brief look into other events of separation such as peeling and pulling apart. In addition, I study spontaneous actions of separation and how their semantic structures are affected by word order. I conclude that Modern Greek is one of the few languages that does not distinguish between actions of snapping and smashing, since they are described with the same verb. Moreover, the generic verbs for actions of cutting and tearing are used interchangeably by Greek native speakers.