The Roots of Verbal Meaning

Oxford University Press
  • erschienen am 19. März 2020
  • |
  • 288 Seiten
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978-0-19-259779-3 (ISBN)
This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations. This book explores possible and impossible word meanings, with a specific focus on the meanings of verbs. John Beavers and Andrew Koontz-Garboden adopt the now common view that verb meanings consist at least partly of an event structure, made up of two elements: an event template describing the verb's broad temporal and causal contours, which occurs across lots of verbs and groups them into semantic and grammatical classes; and an idiosyncratic root describing specific, real world states and actions that distinguish between verbs with the same template. While much work has focused on templates, less work has addressed the truth-conditional contributions of roots, despite the importance of a theory of root meaning in fully defining the predictions made by event structural approaches. This book aims to address this gap by exploring two previously proposed constraints on root meaning: The Bifurcation Thesis of Roots, whereby roots never introduce the meanings introduced by templates, and Manner/Result Complementarity, which specifies that roots can describe either a manner or a result state but never both at the same time. Two extended case studies, on change-of-state verbs and ditransitive verbs of caused possession, show that neither hypothesis holds, and that ultimately there may be no constraints on what a root can mean. Nonetheless, the book argues that event structures still have predictive value: it presents a new theory of possible root meanings and their interaction with event templates that produces a new typology of possible verbs, in which systematic semantic and grammatical properties are determined not just by templates, but also by roots.
  • Englisch
978-0-19-259779-3 (9780192597793)
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John Beavers is Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics at The University of Texas at Austin. His current research interests are largely in the area of lexical semantics, where he has explored the ways in which word meanings are decomposed into more basic components, how these components are interpreted truth conditionally, and the principles by which a word's meaning correlates with and ultimately determines its grammatical behaviour. This work has included detailed studies of relevant phenomena in a range of languages, including English, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Colloquial Sinhala, Kinyarwanda, and Romanian, plus cross-linguistic and typological studies. His research has been published in journals such as Lingua, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, and Linguistic Inquiry. Andrew Koontz-Garboden is Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at The University of Manchester, where he has worked since 2007. He is interested in in the morphosyntax/semantics interface and the implications of cross-linguistic variation for the nature of that interface. His work has drawn on data from a range of languages, including Basaa (Bantu; Cameroon), Huave (isolate, Mexico), Spanish, Ulwa (Misumalpan; Nicaragua), and English. He is the co-author, with Itamar Francez, of Semantics and Morphosyntactic Variation: Qualities and the Grammar of Property Concepts (OUP 2017), and author of multiple articles in journals such as Lingua, Natural Language Semantics, and Theoretical Linguistics.

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