Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
The LINGUIST List is dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world. LINGUIST is a free resource, run by linguistics students and faculty, and supported primarily by your donations. Please support LINGUIST List during the 2016 Fund Drive.
Review of La estructura léxica de la resultatividad y su expresión en las lenguas germánicas y románicas
AUTHOR: De Cuyper, Gretel TITLE: La estructura léxica de la resultatividad y su expresión en las lenguas germánicas y románicas SERIES: Lincom Studies in Language Typology PUBLISHER: Lincom GmbH YEAR: 2006
Blanca Croitor Balaciu, Institute of Linguistics, University of Bucharest, Romania, University of Paris 7.
This book is a comparative study of the aspect and argument structure of resultative constructions in Germanic and Romance languages, within the frame of Lexical Syntax. The examples are taken from four languages: Dutch, English, Catalan and Spanish (Castilian). The author refines the four basic structural types of lexical argument structure advanced by Hale and Keyser (1998) and points out that these structure types are also relevant for an aspectual analysis (thus following suggestions made by Hale and Keyser themselves). The author revises the traditional class of telic events and introduces a distinction between events in which the final state is actually achieved (named 'resultative' events) and events in which the final state is potentially present, as a goal (named 'telic' events). Evidence for this distinction comes from structural differences in the lower part of the lexical argument structure. The rest of the book is dedicated to analytical resultative constructions. The author rejects Talmy's affirmation that analytical resultative constructions are found in Germanic languages, but not in Romance languages (Talmy 1985, 2000). The reflexive pronoun SE is analysed as a resultative predicate, leading to the conclusion that Romance languages also have analytical resultative constructions; the difference between the two families of languages lies in the frequency of this type of constructions, as there are restrictions due to the fact that SE is an anaphor. In the last chapter, the author focuses on the upper part of the structure of the analytical resultative construction. She defends the view that the verb does not have a primitive status, but a complex one; its complexity comes from the conflation of the light verb with a root without category which brings in the lexical content.
In the first chapter, De Cuyper briefly introduces the reader to the notions of argument structure and aspect and to the principles of Lexical Syntax (Hale and Keyser, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2002, among other works). She presents the four basic structural types of lexical argument structure, using the notions of head, specifier and complement, laid down in Hale and Keyser (1997 and following) in order to explain the differences between unaccusative, unergative and transitive verbs.
Then, the author discusses four problems that Hale and Keyser's analysis raises, especially when it comes to the structure suggested for deadjectival verbs. One of them is related to the fact that the capacity to select the specifier and the complement is said to be due to certain properties specific to each lexical category, but at the same time the authors assume that the structural configurations they design are independent of grammatical category. Another problem relates to the relation between the categorical origin of the verb and its participation in the causative-inchoative alternation, as the examples contradict the supposition that only deadjectival verbs participate in this alternation. The third problem concerns the predicative status of the adjective. The author adopts Mateu's analysis of the adjective as a prepositional phrase which has incorporated its complement (Mateu 2002). Therefore, the adjective is no longer a defective predicate which needs a verb in order to project a specifier (as proposed by Hale and Keyser), but a complex head which can directly project a specifier. The need for an internal verb is thus eliminated. The fourth problem relates to structural position of the subject of unaccusative deadjectival verbs. De Cuyper assumes that the subject of all unaccusative verbs is postverbal, regardless of its categorical origin.
Next, De Cuyper suggests new structural configurations for the unergative, unaccusative and transitive constructions. The complement of the verb is a mere lexical nucleus which can be associated to a particle, an adjective, a prepositional phrase or a clitic (this part is subject to parametric variation). The transitive and the inchoative constructions are no longer in a structural derivative relation. The fact that a verb can(not) participate in the causative-inchoative alternation is due to certain conceptual or semantic factors that are outside the frame of lexical syntax. In the remaining part of this chapter, the author turns her attention to conflation and the relation between the lexical argument structure and aspect. She presents the various analyses of the technical aspects of conflation and leaves open the question whether it involves only morphological features or morphological and phonological features as well.
De Cuyper then investigates the relation between lexical argument structure and aspect. She follows Hale and Keyser's analysis (2002), involving the semantic of prepositions and its relation to structural representation: prepositions may express a relation of central coincidence (stative situations) or terminal coincidence (denoting the progression of an entity, which occupies the specifier position, to a final point, which occupies the complement position). Telic events involve a complex preposition, consisting in a preposition of terminal coincidence whose p-signature conflates with the p-signature of the preposition of central coincidence. Thus, semantic differences are associated with structural differences.
In the second chapter, De Cuyper revises the traditional aspectual classes laid down since Vendler (1967) and she focuses on the class of telic events. She considers that the classical distinction between achievement and accomplishments, based on the temporal extension and the presence of a causative subevent, is aspectually irrelevant. Instead, the relevant distinction is considered to be that between 'real' final states (those final states which have been obtained) and 'potential' final states (which are merely a goal); 'resultative' events involve real final states and 'telic' events involve potential final states. Thus, the author gives a new meaning to the notion 'telic'. Evidence for this distinction comes from certain contextual inferences. For resultative events, the final state is encoded as the 'result' in its aspectual structure. For telic events, the obtaining of the final state is not encoded in its linguistic structure. The author relates this distinction to the semantics of the lexical nucleus: telic events contain a lexical nucleus of terminal coincidence, while resultative events contain a complex nucleus of both terminal and central coincidence (formed by conflation). De Cuyper's analysis involves the fact that the primitive (basic) level of aspect is a question of the verb alone, excluding the arguments. The semantic properties of the arguments (associated with determination or quantification) may have an influence on the aspectual interpretation of the verb, but only at a level that is superior (posterior) to the primitive level and only within the limitations imposed by the aspectual properties of the primitive lexical nucleus.
In the third chapter, De Cuyper focuses on analytical resultative constructions. In the analytical construction, certain semantic components are expressed outside the verb. The author starts from Talmy's typology (1985, 2000), according to which languages differ when it comes to the combinations of semantic components that the verb may express: in Germanic languages, but not in Romance languages, 'movement' can combine with 'manner'. In Spanish, however, 'movement' can combine with 'path', while in Germanic languages the 'path' is expressed by a satellite; hence the distinction between satellite-framed languages (like Germanic languages) and verb-framed languages (like Romance languages). The satellite can be an adjective ('the waiter wiped the dishes dry'), a prepositional phrase ('the bottle floated into the cave') or a particle ('the bottle floated away'). Romance analytical resultative constructions have not been discussed very much because the resultative lexical nuclei of terminal coincidence and terminal + central coincidence express a 'path', therefore, they were considered to be encoded in the verb, not outside it.
The author shows that Talmy's typology has been embraced by many linguists, although is sometimes contradicted by counterexamples. One of these counterexamples is the resultative construction with the reflexive pronoun (SE) found in Catalan, Castilian, Italian, Romanian, and, to a more limited extent, in French (but not in Portuguese and Galician). Due to its regular extension and productivity, these constructions do not represent just a group of counterexamples, but a pattern which constitutes a strong argument against Talmy's typology.
In the literature concerning resultative construction with SE, there have been several hypotheses regarding the role of this reflexive clitic: (a) it has been argued to be related to an argument position of the verb (SE would allegedly make a transitive verb intransitive); (b) some linguists believed that it didn't have a grammatical (syntactic or semantic) function, its function being to emphasize the role of the subject (as it is an anaphor related to the subject); (c) another analysis treats SE as a benefactive adjunct; (d) other linguists have suggested that SE has an aspectual role, as it would either convert a atelic event into a telic one or explicitly mark the telic character of the construction. De Cuyper rejects these analyses and argues that SE has a resultative role: for the construction with SE, the interpretation is that the final state is obtained, while for their counterparts without SE, the interpretation is that the event is oriented towards the final state, but we don't know if it is obtained (these are telic events, according to the author's terminology). Therefore, SE is a resultative marker.
Furthermore, De Cuyper investigates its relation to lexical argument structure and reaches the conclusion that SE is a resultative predicate which has obtained its aspectual value by conflation of the complement of the internal complement with the lexical nuclei of central and terminal coincidence. At the same time, by this conflation, SE obtains its predicative value and acts as the predicate of the internal argument of the construction. Thus, Romance languages also have analytical resultative constructions with a satellite (SE) expressing a 'path' (the question remains why it is the reflexive clitic which undertakes this role). De Cuyper also gives a few examples from other Romance languages – Italian, French and Romanian, although she does not discuss them in detail. Romanian examples given by her are with the so-called ''possessive dative'' (Mi-am băut berea. 'I - DAT POS - have drunk my beer'), but this language also has a resultative construction with an accusative SE which is more relevant for this discussion: Hârtiile s-au îngălbenit. – 'The papers SE yellowed'.
The last chapter of the book focuses on the upper part of the lexical structure of resultatives and the identification of the element that is incorporated in the defective verb of the analytical resultative construction. There are two alternative analyses of analytical resultative verbs, Event Type Shifting and Lexical Subordination, the difference between them lying in the primitive vs. the composed or conflated status of the verb. According to the Event Type Shifting analyses, the analytical resultative construction is derived from a non-resultative construction which contains the same verb. Thus, the verb is considered to have a primitive status and the resultative predicate is added to it. According to Lexical Subordination analyses, the resultative predicate is not an adjunct, but a component of the basic configuration of the resultative construction. In this basic configuration, the light verb obtains its conceptual content by conflation with an adjunct argument structure containing the lexical verb (subordinated to the basic analytical resultative construction). The author agrees that the verb is composed, but argues that it is not a verb that incorporates, as verbs cannot incorporate; instead, the element that is incorporated into the basic structure is merely a root which expresses the 'manner' and which obtains its verbal category by conflation with the light verb.
De Cuyper's analysis eliminates several problems raised by other theories: the Single Delimitation Constraint (Tenny 1994), the fact that some arguments are not subcategorized for or not selected by the verb outside the resultative construction (under this analysis, arguments are subcategorized for and selected by the predicative nucleus of the basic construction, not by the conceptual component which incorporates in the light verb). At the end of the chapter, the author admits that the problem raised by her analysis is the over-generating of constructions. Since there are no specifications of the aspectual and predicative properties in the lexical entry of the verb, impossible (''unacceptable'') constructions are generated. However, until a (convincing) theory concerning the connections between the presupposed ''lexical'' information of a word and the syntactic structure in which in can(not) appear, the author rejects the fact that conceptual limitations may influence the structure.
To conclude, De Cuyper's book, based on her doctoral thesis defended in 2004 at the University of Antwerp, uses the principles of Lexical Syntax for an analysis of the aspectual structure of delimited events (telics and resultatives). This theoretical framework allows her to investigate the connection between argument structure an aspect and to identify the component of the argument structure which is responsible for the primitive aspect. The author attentively discusses the disadvantages of previous analyses from the literature on resultative constructions, in order to reveal the advantages of the lexical-syntactic analysis and to refine its principles.
Hale, Ken & Samuel Jay Keyser, 1992, ''The Syntactic Character of Thematic Structure'', in Roca, Iggy (ed.), 'Thematic Structure. Its Role in Grammar' (Linguistic models 16), Berlin, New York, Foris, 107–143.
Hale, Ken & Samuel Jay Keyser, 1997, ''On the Complex Nature of Simple Predicators'', in Alsina, Àlex, Joan Bresnan & Peter Sells (eds.), 'Complex Predicates', Stanford, CSLI Publications, 29–65.
Hale, Ken & Samuel Jay Keyser, 1998, ''The Basic Elements of Argument Structure'', in Harley, Heidi (ed.), 'Papers from the Upenn/MIT Roundtable on Argument Structure and Aspect', Cambridge, MITWPL, 73–118.
Hale, Ken & Samuel Jay Keyser, 2002, ''A Prolegomenon of Argument Structure'' (Linguistic Inquiry Monograph 39), Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT.
Mateu, Jaume, 2002, ''Argument Structure: Relational Construal at the Syntax-Semantics Interface'', Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, doctoral thesis.
Talmy, Leonard, 1985, ''Lexicalization Patterns: Semantic Structure in Lexical Forms'', in Shopen, Timothy (ed.), 'Language Typology and Syntactic Description 3. Grammatical Categories and the Lexicon', Cambridge, CUP, 57–149.
Talmy, Leonard, 2000, ''Toward a Cognitive Semantics. Volume II: Typology and Process in Concept Structuring'', Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, MIT.
Tenny, Carol, 1994, ''Aspectual Roles and the Syntax-Semantics Interface'' (Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy 52), Dordrecht, Kluwer.
Vendler, Zeno, 1967, ''Verbs and Times'', in Vendler, Zeno (ed.), 'Linguistics in Philosophy', Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 97–121.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Blanca Croitor Balaciu is a researcher at the Institute of Linguistics from Bucharest, and is writing a doctoral thesis about agreement under the supervision of Carmen Dobrovie Sorin from University of Paris 7 and Valeria Gutu Romalo from University of Bucharest. Her domains of interest are syntax, semantics, morphology and spoken language (especially vocatives). She is a co-author of the recent Romanian Grammar published by the Romanian Academy (2005) and is also involved in the project The Essential Grammar of Romanian.