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Bookmark and Share Paper 3329

Change of State Verbs and the Semantics of Roots
Andrew Koontz-Garboden and John Beavers
347-354 (complete paper or proceedings contents)

Abstract

All theories of event structure, whether lexicalist (e.g., Levin and Rappaport Hovav 1995), constructionalist (e.g., Goldberg 1995), or syntactic (e.g., Borer 2005), share the assumption that verb meanings decompose into an event template defining the event's broad temporal and causal structure and an idiosyncratic root filling in real world details about the event. While it is a common assumption that these two classes of meanings are "bifurcated" (Arad 2005, Embick 2009, Dunbar and Wellwood 2016), so that templatic meaning is only introduced by the template and never by the root, this question has never been put to empirical test. This paper examines the semantic and morphological predictions of this hypothesis focusing on the roots of change of state verbs and derivatives of them. It shows that there are two distinct classes of roots: roots from which descriptively deadjectival verbs are derived (the flat class) and roots from which descriptively monomorphemic verbs are derived (the crack class). Contradiction tests, sublexical modification, and circumstantial evidence from morphological typology show that while the former class behaves consistent with bifurcation, the latter does not; instead the roots themselves seem to carry an entailment of change of state, otherwise a templatic entailment. A formal analysis assuming this is provided that explains the different behavior of the two root classes. Thus the conclusion is that contrary to bifurcation, some roots do introduce templatic meaning, consistent with independent findings that there are entailments of possession in the roots of some ditransitives (Beavers and Koontz-Garboden 2016) and causation in the roots of manner of killing verbs (Beavers and Koontz-Garboden 2012). This is ultimately argued to be a consequence of the nature of certain kinds of idiosyncratic root meanings, which may entail some templatic meanings as inescapable parts of their definitions.

Published in

Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
Table of contents
Printed edition: $410.00