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Review of  La estructura léxica de la resultatividad y su expresión en las lenguas germánicas y románicas

Reviewer: Blanca Balaciu
Book Title: La estructura léxica de la resultatividad y su expresión en las lenguas germánicas y románicas
Book Author: Gretel De Cuyper
Publisher: Lincom GmbH
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Subject Language(s): Catalan-Valencian-Balear
Language Family(ies): Germanic
Book Announcement: 17.2790

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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
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

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


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

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,

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

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