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Drawing Inferences about Novel Raising and Control Verbs
Misha Becker and Bruno Estigarribia
12-26 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Raising verbs (seem/tend) and control verbs (try/claim) overlap in their distribution (John seems/claims to be smart). Although they are distinguished in other contexts (raising verbs occur in a there-construction; control verbs occur in a pseudocleft), the fact that both verb types can occur in the same sentence frame means that a novel verb encountered in this frame cannot be categorized unequivocally. Previous research showed there are semantic cues relating to animacy in the ambiguous construction which lead adult speakers to make assumptions about the category of the verb that occurs there. The goal of this novel verb study is to determine which factors lead adults to guess if a novel verb is a raising or control verb, simulating children's categorization process. Adults generally had a strong bias to choose the pseudocleft. This bias was overridden to a significant extent only when the novel verb was presented with inanimate subjects (regardless of whether a definition was provided), suggesting that subject animacy is a powerful cue to verb type in this construction. A logistic regression analysis confirmed this pattern of interaction.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2010)
edited by Mihaela Pirvulescu, María Cristina Cuervo, Ana T. Pérez-Leroux, Jeffrey Steele, and Nelleke Strik
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00