LINGUIST List 9.227

Sat Feb 14 1998

Sum: Syntax and Semantics of "Photograph"

Editor for this issue: James German <>


  1. Graeme Forbes, Re: Syntax and Semantics of "Photograph"

Message 1: Re: Syntax and Semantics of "Photograph"

Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 16:02:06 -0600
From: Graeme Forbes <>
Subject: Re: Syntax and Semantics of "Photograph"

Thanks to the many people who responded to my query about why you can
say (1) but can't say (2):

(1) I saw John leave.
(2) I photographed John leave.

Other sensory verbs like "smelled", "heard", "sense", pattern with
"saw" (maybe you-know-who could smell Monica arrive in the outer
office, because of her perfume), while the likes of "taped", "filmed"
etc. pattern with "photograph". Only 1 person disputed the data (I'm
assured that (2) is ok in Australia).

The explanations I liked most were from Brian Ulicny and Michael Swan.
Ulicny points out that on Hale/Keyser theories of incorporation,
"photograph" derives from "took a photograph of" and carries its
syntax, and you can't have "photograph of John leave". Swan points
out, in effect, that (1) implies John left, while you can photograph
John leaving even if he then gets stopped and doesn't leave, so the
difference between an event-in-progress and a culminated event may be

Graeme Forbes
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