LINGUIST List 11.2514

Tue Nov 21 2000

Sum: Languages Without Resultatives

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. Jose-Luis Mendivil, Languages without resultatives

Message 1: Languages without resultatives

Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 19:45:28 +0100
From: Jose-Luis Mendivil <>
Subject: Languages without resultatives

Dear Linguist List subscribers:

As a complement of a former query about languages with resultative 
constructions such as English 'John hammered the metal flat' (Summary 
11.2416) I posted a query asking for information about languages 
which disallow such constructions.

The persons who responded to my query were (in chronological order):

Karine Megerdoomian
Asya Pereltsvaig
William B. Snyder
Natalia Koltsova
Annabel Cormack
Jesus Fernandez
Rick Mc Callister

Thank you very much to all.

Megerdoomian informed about Eastern Armenian and Persian, which 
disallow these resultative constructions. She remarks that in these 
languages there are causatives, but morphological or with a 'light' 

Her examples are:

ch'ash-e Ara-in hivand-ats-rets
food-Nom Ara-Dat/Acc sick-CAUS-past/3sg
"the food made Ara sick."

qhaza dara-ro mariz kard
food Dara-OBJ sick made-3sg

Both Pereltsvaig and Koltsova let me know that Russian does not allow 
resultative secondary predicates of this kind.

Furhtermore, Snyder, Cormack, and Fernandez gave references to their 
own work (or mailed it to me).

The references (that I consider suitable and outstanding in all cases) are:

Snyder, William (1995) _Language Acquisition and Language Variation: 
The Role of Morphology_. Doctoral dissertation, MIT.

Beck, Sigrid and Snyder, William (in press) "Complex predicates and 
restitutive _again_: Evidence for a semantic parameter." In 
Proceedings of the 25th Annual Boston University Conference on 
Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

Cormack, Annabel & Neil Smith (1996): "Checking Theory: Features, 
Functional Heads and Checking-Parameters". In UCL Working Papers in 
Linguistics, 8: 1-40

Cormack, Annabel & Neil Smith (1999): "Why Are Depictives Different 
from Resultatives?" In UCL Working Papers in Linguistics: 251-286

Papers by Cormack & Smith available at

Fernandez Gonzalez, Jesus (in press): "Reflexiones sobre las 
resultativas". In Actas del IV congreso de Linguistica General. 
Cadiz: Universidad de Cadiz.

To conclude, I think the best way of summing up is to share with all 
LinguistList readers the typology of resultatives provided by Snyder 
(in a collaboration with Sigrid Beck):

	American Sign Language		YES
	Austroasiatic (Khmer)		YES
	Finno-Ugric (Hungarian)		YES
	Germanic (English, German)	YES
	Japanese-Korean (Jpn., Kor.) 	YES
	Sino-Tibetan (Mandarin)		YES
	Tai (Thai)			YES

	Afroasiatic (Egyp. Ar., Hebrew)	 NO
	Austronesian (Javanese)		 NO
	Bantu (Lingala)			 NO
	Basque				 NO
	Eskimo-Aleut (Inuttut)		 NO
	Romance (French, Spanish)	 NO
	Slavic (Russian, Serbo-Croatian) NO

Snyder remarks that this typology concerns the possibility of 
resultatives of the form "Mary beat the metal flat" or "John wiped 
the table clean", and that if at least one of these forms was 
possible, in direct translation, they assigned the language a 'Yes'.

He also observes that they accepted as resultative constructions 
which required an extra word 'become' (ASL, Thai, sometimes Mandarin) 
or constructions whose result adjective required a special 
morphological form (e.g. translative case in Hungarian or a 
tense-less form in Japanese).

Again, thank you very much indeed for all your responses.

Best regards,
Prof. Dr. Jose-Luis Mendivil Giro
Dept. of General and Hispanic Linguistics

Universidad de Zaragoza
C/ Pedro Cerbuna, 12
50009 Zaragoza (Spain)

Phone: (+34) 976 761 000
Fax: (+34) 976 761 541

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