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Review of  Lexical Semantics, Syntax, and Event Structure

Reviewer: Berit Gehrke
Book Title: Lexical Semantics, Syntax, and Event Structure
Book Author: Malka Rappaport Hovav Edit Doron Ivy Sichel
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
Book Announcement: 22.4450

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EDITORS: Rappaport Hovav, Malka; Doron, Edit; Sichel, Ivy
TITLE: Lexical Semantics, Syntax, and Event Structure
SERIES: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
YEAR: 2010

Berit Gehrke, Department of Translation and Language Sciences, Universitat
Pompeu Fabra


The volume brings together papers related to the work of Anita Mittwoch, most of
which were presented at the workshop ‘Syntax, Lexicon, and Event Structure’,
held in her honour at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2006. It contains 15
contributions distributed over three parts (I: Lexical Representation, II:
Argument Structure and the Compositional Construction of Predicates, and III:
Syntactic and Semantic Composition of Event Structure), preceded by material
including an introductory chapter by the editors. The volume is completed by
references and three indices of names, topics, and languages. Data from various
languages are discussed, such as English, Hebrew, Hungarian, Greek, Japanese,
Blackfoot, Dutch, as well as two different sign languages employed in Israel.

In the introduction, the editors state that despite the wide range of topics
covered by the papers in this volume, they all share the same research question,
namely to determine the division of labour between lexical semantics,
compositional semantics, and morphosyntax in the representation of events, as
well as the nature of cross-linguistic variation in this area. After providing a
short review of the main ingredients of event descriptions, such as lexical
aspect, telicity, incrementality, argument structure, voice, viewpoint aspect,
tense, mood, and habituality, they summarise the chapters and establish
connections between them as well as their relation to Mittwoch’s research. The
concluding section gives an overview of Mittwoch’s contribution to linguistics,
starting from her 1971 dissertation, which anticipated many topics in the
literature on events, such as the correlation between incremental themes and the
possibility of object omission or parallels between incremental theme verbs,
change-of-state verbs and motion verbs in combination with goal phrases.
Particular papers by Mittwoch are discussed, which address topics that are
directly picked up by some of the authors in this volume, such as optional
intransitivity (Landman & Rothstein), homogeneity (Landman & Rothstein,
Mittwoch), the interaction of aspectual class and temporal when-clauses
(Mittwoch), habituality (Boneh & Doron), the different effect of bare plural and
mass arguments on accomplishments and achievements (Borer), and cognate object
constructions (Horrocks & Stavrou).


In ‘Reflections on Manner/Result Complementarity’, Malka Rappaport Hovav and
Beth Levin develop their hypothesis from previous works that (non-stative) verbs
either lexicalise manner or result, but not both, mainly discussing data from
English. They assume canonical realisation rules for the association of a root’s
ontological categorisation with an event schema (made up of combinations of the
predicates ACT, CAUSE, BECOME). They propose that each root has an ontological
categorisation, chosen from a fixed set of types, including manner and result,
and that roots are integrated into event schemas either as arguments or as
modifiers of the event predicates involved. In particular, manner roots are
argued to modify ACT, whereas result roots are arguments of BECOME. They
furthermore posit a constraint on lexicalisation, according to which a root can
only be associated with one primitive predicate in an event schema, either by
modifying or adjoining to it, from which it follows that a root cannot
lexicalise both manner and result. They argue that the notion of result should
not be equated with the notion of telicity, but rather with the notion of scalar
change. In contrast, manner verbs are argued to specify non-scalar change, i.e.
change that cannot be characterised in terms of an ordered set of values of a
single attribute. They suggest that the notion of scalar vs. non-scalar change
and thus of result vs. manner, has a direct parallel in the motion domain, where
we find complementarity between manner and path (i.e. scalar change) verb roots.

In ‘Verbs, Constructions, and Semantic Frames’, Adele E. Goldberg postulates
that meanings are relativised to frames, combinations of a word sense’s profile
(what is asserted) and the background frame of a word (what is presupposed). She
reviews two recent proposals for constraints on verbal meanings and argues that
they are both too strong and should merely be seen as tendencies. To argue
against Croft’s (1991) constraint, according to which verbs can only describe
simple events or complex events in which two subevents are causally linked, she
discusses verbs that profile two subevents that are not causally related (e.g.
‘blanch’ asserts the two events of immersing food in hot water and then in cold
water). As counterexamples to Rappaport Hovav & Levin’s manner/result
complementarity, she addresses verbs that apparently specify both, such as
‘scale’ or ‘climb’ (but see Levin & Rappaport Hovav, to appear, for a way to
integrate the latter into their system), or verbs of cooking and verbs of
creation, e.g. ‘scribble’. Instead she proposes the Conventional Frame
constraint, according to which a verb’s meaning can involve two or more
subevents, only if these are related by a semantic frame. In addition, she
posits that argument structure constellations (‘constructions’), can also be
associated with semantic frames, and that the meanings associated with verbs and
with constructions can combine into one meaning to evoke novel events which do
not have to comply with the Conventional Frame constraint. Goldberg’s careful
discussion of particular counterexamples to the two constraints under discussion
raises the important issue that particular notions, such as cause, manner, or
result, have to be defined precisely in order for the constraints to work.
However, it is not clear that they warrant rejecting the constraints altogether.
For example, the two distinct subevents in ‘blanch’ might not be causally
related, but they are in a much tighter relation than she wants us to believe,
since they have to involve the same theme, be temporally adjacent, and cannot
appear in the reverse order. ‘Scribble’, in turn, is actually not a
counterexample under Rappaport Hovav & Levin’s definition of result as scalar
change, since the change involved is not necessarily scalar. Finally, the
Conventional Frame constraint proposed instead might shift the problem to
another unclear question, namely what are possible semantic frames?

In ‘Contact and Other Results’, Nomi Erteschik-Shir and Tova Rapoport extend
their previous account of argument structure alternations with two types of
contact verbs (e.g. ‘hit’ vs. ‘smear’), to include a third type (e.g. ‘splash’).
Starting from the assumption that a single verb can project various structures
and that, given a universal inventory of atoms, M(anner), S(tate), and
L(ocation), verbs can at most specify two atoms, M and two kinds of result (S or
L), they argue for different make-ups of lexical atoms in the otherwise uniform
lexical representations of contact verbs. The projection possibilities
themselves are taken to be constrained only by the principle of Full
Interpretation, according to which the interpretation of each atom has to take
place within its local V projection, and projected structure requires the
availability of an uninterpreted atom. Hit-verbs are analysed as involving M
(forceful means) and L (point of contact). Such verbs can project a
change-of-location structure, with M an adverbial modifier and L projecting as a
(null) preposition (‘The car hit the wall’), as well as an agentive causative
structure with an overt goal predicate, with M an adverbial modifier and L
modifying the theme DP (‘Jane hit the ball to the other side of the field’).
Smear-verbs are argued to involve M (smear manner) and L (surface contact). A
complex cause structure is derived when L modifies an overt preposition ‘on’
(‘We smeared mud on the wall’), whereas a simple change structure (*‘Mud smeared
on the wall’) is argued not to be acceptable because the M atom would remain
uninterpreted, as it requires an agent (a cause). In a second causative
structure (‘We smeared the wall with mud’) L modifies the theme subject of the
central coincidence predicate ‘with’. Finally, splash-verbs are taken to specify
the dispersal of a plurality of particles, and to involve only one atom,
L-pl(ural) (splash-shaped surface contact). The fact that single-component
splash-verbs can project a change structure (‘Mud splashed on the wall’) follows
naturally; however the complex cause+change structure (‘We splashed the wall
with mud’) is more surprising. The authors claim that this structure is possible
because of L’s plurality.

In ‘The Lexical Encoding of Idioms’, Martin Everaert defines an idiom as a
“conventionalized linguistic expression which can be decomposed into potentially
meaningful components and exhibit co-occurrence restrictions that cannot be
explained in terms of rule-governed morphosyntactic or semantic restrictions”
(p. 81). Being concerned with the nature of a lexicon in the I-language sense,
he investigates the question whether idioms, whose conventional nature makes
them an object of E-language, could be part of this lexicon. He extends the
generative theory of lexical representation by proposing that lexical items can
be specified not just for C(ategorial)- and S(emantic)-selection, but also for
L(exical)-selection, which imposes co-occurrence restrictions between lexical
heads. For example, to account for the meaning of ‘kick the bucket’, Everaert
proposes among the literal subsense(s) of ‘kick’ another subsense, say meaning
(4) (abbreviated in the following as kick4), which in combination with a
particular subsense of ‘bucket’, say meaning (8) (bucket8) and with a definite
determiner, means ‘die’, as L-selectionally specified for kick4. Similarly, the
lexical semantics for ‘bucket’ specifies several subsenses, including bucket8,
which is L-selectionally specified as meaningless in the context of kick4.
However, all subsenses of ‘kick’ or ‘bucket’ share the same C- and S-selectional
specifications, which captures the generally acknowledged fact that in idioms,
the morphosyntactic properties of their constituting parts are the same as under
the non-idiomatic readings (e.g. irregular past tense or plural morphology, the
lexical aspect of the verb), or that idioms allow for modification or
replacement of parts of them.


In ‘The Emergence of Argument Structure in Two New Sign Languages’, Irit Meir
investigates the argument structure mechanisms of two sign languages that
started developing in the 1930s, namely Israeli Sign Language (ISL) and
Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL). She compares three different age groups
for each language in the way (context-free) single actions depicted in video
clips are signed to another person, who in turn had to identify the action in a
picture-verification task. Meir observes that the older generations pursue
communicative avoidance strategies, for example by employing one-argument
clauses, which obliterate the need to mark argument structure (e.g. WOMAN SIT;
GIRL FEED for an event involving a girl feeding a woman), or the (less common)
“body as subject” strategy, in which the subject (even if it is not first
person) is identified with the signer. Both strategies are assumed to be costly:
the inflation of verb forms makes the discourse loaded and redundant, whereas
the second strategy confounds grammatical person with syntactic role.
Grammatical strategies to encode argument structure are argued to gradually
develop in younger generations, with ISL showing preference for verb agreement,
which is fully developed in the third group, and ABSL for word order (SOV order
is predominant by the third generation), without verb agreement. Verb agreement
in sign languages takes place when the arguments’ R-loci, i.e. the points of
space which their referents are associated to, are incorporated into the verb
form by pointing or eye gaze. Meir also identifies intermediate steps to mark
verb agreement in first- and second-generation ISL signers. For example, some
signers localise referents in space, without integrating these R-loci into the
verb form, other signers use ‘auxiliary’ signs that move between the R-loci
without this movement being part of the verb form, or they mark agreement only
with the object, but not with the subject.

In ‘Animacy in Blackfoot: Implications for Event Structure and Clause
Structure’, Elizabeth Ritter and Sara Thomas Rosen investigate a particular type
of verbal morphology, so-called finals, in the Algonquian language Blackfoot.
Different finals result in four verb stem classes: intransitive (in)animate (II
& IA; the subject is (in)animate), and transitive (in)animate (TI & TA; the
object is (in)animate). They propose that, rather than marking an aspectual or a
lexical argument structure distinction, these finals are overt exponents of v,
since they have both syntactic and semantic properties generally attributed to
v. In particular, all and only transitive finals are shown to license a DP
object, including unselected objects, such as benefactives, or so-called
cross-clausal agreement. Semantically, TI, TA and IA finals are argued to impose
an animacy restriction on the external argument and thus to theta-assign this
argument, whereas II finals do not, and the respective verbs are unaccusative.
They conclude that these properties make Blackfoot finals a mixed category with
functional (object licensing, Case-checking) as well as lexical properties
(theta-marking). Ritter & Rosen refute the alternative hypothesis that finals
mark (a)telicity by showing that verbs that can appear with both transitive and
intransitive finals, e.g. ‘eat’, behave alike with respect to standard telicity
tests, no matter whether they appear with a transitive or an intransitive final.

In ‘Lexicon versus Syntax: Evidence from Morphological Causatives’, Julia
Horvath and Tal Siloni compare morphologically derived causatives in Japanese
and Hungarian. Based on evidence from Binding, negation, VP-ellipsis, and the
interpretation of agent-oriented adverbs, data discussed in previous literature
reveal that Japanese morphological causatives formed by the productive causative
morpheme ‘-(s)ase’ are biclausal. Horvath and Siloni show, based on the same
diagnostics, that Hungarian morphological causatives, which are derived by means
of the productive suffix –‘(t)at/-(t)et’, are monoclausal. They argue that
previous, uniformly syntactic analyses do not capture the facts because they
either make the wrong prediction that productive morphological causatives are
necessarily biclausal, or because they have to implement additional stipulations
to account for the fact that the input can also be transitive and unergative
verbs. Instead, Horvath and Siloni propose that languages like Japanese derive
morphological causatives in the syntax, whereas languages like Hungarian derive
them in the lexicon. They define a lexical causativisation rule that adds an
agent argument to the theta grid of the input verb, and, if necessary,
revaluates the lexically specified causative component of the Agent of the input
predicate, [+c(ausative)], to [-c(ausative)]. From this account it follows that
the former are biclausal, whereas the latter are monoclausal. To further support
this account, they discuss Japanese data involving the causativisation of
syntactically derived structures involving coordination or raising verbs, which
is not possible in Hungarian.

Causatives are also addressed in ‘On the Morphosyntax of (Anti)Causative Verbs’
by Artemis Alexiadou, who posits four classes of verbal meanings represented by
a root or core component: agentive (e.g. ‘murder’), internally caused (e.g.
‘blossom’), externally caused (e.g. ‘destroy’), and cause unspecified (e.g.
‘break’). She claims that in principle all but agentive roots allow the
(anti)causative alternation, but languages fall into two groups whether they
actually do so. In the first group, represented by English, only cause
unspecified roots are shown to alternate, whereas in languages of the second
type, e.g. Hindi and Greek, all but agentive roots do. Alexiadou proposes two
anticausative/intransitive structures to be available, one without Voice and one
with a non-agentive Voice, which lacks an external argument. Morphologically
marked anticausatives are argued to always appear in the latter structure. She
brings forward data from various languages (Greek, Hindi, Korean, Turkish,
Japanese, Armenian) to support these two structures, which share the same
pattern: with internally caused and cause unspecified verbs, the intransitive is
basic and the anticausative is morphologically less complex, leading to the
structure without Voice; with externally caused verbs, the transitive is basic
and anticausativisation involves anticausative morphology (e.g. non-active
morphology in Greek), leading to the structure with Voice. In the latter case,
the morphology is often identical to passive morphology in the relevant
languages, but the ungrammaticality of agentive ‘by’-phrases or modifiers shows
that they are not passive. Alexiadou analyses anticausative morphology as a
syncretism marking a valency reduction of some sort. It is furthermore argued
that English only has the first structure, the one lacking Voice, but not the
second structure, the one that is similar to a passive. This is proposed to
follow from the fact that English lacks valency reduction morphology, and from
an analysis of the English passive as structurally more complex (the passive
morpheme sits in an additional aspectual projection, hence no valency reduction)
than the passive in languages that possess valency reduction morphology (which
sits directly in Voice).

In ‘Saturated Adjectives, Reified Properties’, Idan Landau addresses argument
structure alternations with evaluative adjectives, for which a basic adjectival
construction (BasA, e.g. ‘John was very generous (to Mary)’) alternates with a
derived adjectival construction (DerA, e.g. ‘That tribute was very generous (of
John) (*to Mary)’). The external argument of BasA is shown to appear as an
optional PP in DerA, whereas the internal goal argument of BasA cannot appear in
DerA (or only as an adjunct ‘towards’-phrase). DerAs are argued to necessarily
involve a stage level interpretation, whereas BasAs also allow an individual
level interpretation. Landau proposes two possible structures for BasAs, namely
one that involves an event argument (for the stage level interpretation,
deriving an event predicate) and one that does not (individual level
interpretation, deriving a proposition). He argues that DerAs are derived from
BasAs by two operations, the lexical operation Saturation (SAT), which
unselectively saturates all the individual arguments of BasA, and the syntactic
operation Reification (R), which introduces a new external argument that is
construed as a realisation of the predicate. This analysis is argued to capture
the fact that DerAs can only be derived from stage level BasAs, since R needs an
event and cannot relate a proposition to an individual. He furthermore states
that as a result of SAT, the arguments of BasA can only be expressed by (or
doubled as) adjuncts (‘of’- or ‘towards’-phrases); a proper goal argument
(projected by a more deeply embedded goal phrase) is assumed not to be possible
because its projection would depend on an external argument, introduced by the
adjectivalising head a; this would lead to ungrammaticality when leaving the
external argument unsaturated, or such an external argument would clash with the
adjectivalising head a-R, necessary to introduce R. Both operations are argued
to be independently available, with SAT being involved in the derivation of
verbal passives, passive event nominals, as well as alternations found with
subject and object experiencer adjectives, and R introducing the external
argument in nominals.


In ‘Incremental Homogeneity and the Semantics of Aspectual ‘for’-Phrases’, Fred
Landman and Susan Rothstein make precise the notion of homogeneity that is
required to pick out the predicates that can be modified by ‘for’-phrases.
Homogeneity is commonly defined as a temporal notion: states are homogeneous
down to instants, activities are homogeneous only down to (sufficiently large)
subintervals, whereas accomplishments and achievements are not homogeneous.
Landman & Rothstein argue that homogeneity down to subintervals cannot account
for the fact that activities allow for pauses and gaps. Instead, they propose to
define homogeneity with respect to events, as incremental homogeneity, which is
the “incremental preservation of cross-temporal identity of an event, and of its
event type, between the running time of the onset of that event and the running
time of that event itself” (p. 236). It follows, they argue, that
‘for’-adverbials are allowed with states, since these are lexically constrained
as being homogeneous down to instants, which is a stronger notion than
incremental homogeneity. They note that activities might allow for gaps
segmentally but not incrementally and analyse them as lexically constrained to
be incrementally homogeneous. Accomplishments and achievements are argued not to
meet the definition of incremental homogeneity, because their onsets are not
events of the same type. Landman & Rothstein show that accomplishments and
achievements in combination with bare plural and mass objects, but not in
combination with determiner-noun phrase combinations, are acceptable with
‘for’-adverbials, and propose that this is so because bare plural and mass nouns
are kind-denoting.

In ‘Event Measurement and Containment’, Anita Mittwoch addresses the semantics
of ‘for’- and ‘in’-adverbials, which serve as common diagnostics for the
distinction between atelic and telic predicates. She follows the common analysis
of ‘for’-adverbials as extensive measure functions, with the presupposition that
they apply only to homogeneous predicates. Such adverbials carry a scalar
implicature, in the sense that ‘for an hour’ implies ‘not for more than an
hour’, and they cannot apply to predicates that are already measured (in another
domain) or quantised. Given that ‘in’-adverbials apply to predicates that are
already quantised, Mittwoch argues that they cannot be measure phrases but only
indirectly measure the event, by measuring the interval that contains the event.
Furthermore, they involve a reversal of the scalar implicatures found with
‘for’-adverbials, in the sense that ‘in an hour’ implies ‘not in less than an
hour’. She addresses particular restrictions on ‘in’-adverbials that do not hold
for ‘for’-adverbials and argues that they follow from the assumption that
‘in’-adverbials are container measures and thus operate on a descending scale.
For example, whereas ‘for’-adverbials are compatible with both upper and lower
bounds (‘for at least / at most an hour’), ‘in’-adverbials require an upper
bound (‘#in at least an hour’), and additionally involve relative shortness (‘in
as little as an hour’ is more felicitous than ‘in as much as an hour’). The
paper concludes with a comparison between ‘in’-adverbials and the
‘take’-construction (e.g. ‘It took her an hour to complete the essay’), as an
alternative way of indirectly measuring the length of telic eventualities.
Mittwoch shows that this construction is not subject to the aforementioned
constraints that apply to ‘in’-adverbials and proposes that the
‘take’-construction is the unmarked means to (indirectly) measure telic events.

In ‘Draw’, Christopher Piñón argues that the verb ‘draw’ behaves differently
from regular verbs of creation, such as ‘build’, and he provides a semantic
analysis of three readings he observes with this verb, which are shown to be
morphologically distinguished in Hungarian. Under the first reading, for which
Hungarian uses the non-prefixed verb ‘rajzol’, a kind of drawing is produced but
no particular object is involved. This reading (under neutral intonation) is
only compatible with non-specific indefinites, and Piñón analyses this as a
proper verb of creation. Under the second reading, expressed by the Hungarian
prefixed verb ‘le-rajzol’ - ‘on-draw’, the drawing of some object is produced,
which involves the copying of an image. According to Piñón, this is the meaning
of a verb of depiction, and it requires a definite or a specific indefinite
object NP. Finally, the third ‘draw’, for which Hungarian employs the perfective
prefix ‘meg’ (‘megrajzol’), expresses that a drawing is made of an object based
on a certain description of that object, which does not involve copying. Thus,
the article provides a more fine-grained lexical semantics of verbs that have
previously been classified under one label such as ‘verbs of creation’. An open
question is whether it is necessary to postulate three distinct meanings for
‘draw’, rather than maintaining a single lexical entry and deriving the
different readings from the composition of the verb with particular NPs
((in)definite, (non)specific) as well as particular aspectual information
implicit in English but explicitly provided by the morphology in Hungarian, with
particles like 'le' or 'meg' displaying systematic effects on various verb

In ‘Morphological Aspect and the Function and Distribution of Cognate Objects
Across Languages’, Geoffrey Horrocks and Melita Stavrou investigate cognate
object constructions (COCs) in Greek, Hebrew and English. They argue that Greek
has transitivising COCs (TCOCs), which occur with verbs of all classes
(unergative, unaccusative, (di)transitive), do not change the aspectual nature
of the underlying verb, and in which the COs are fully referential arguments.
They argue that Hebrew COCs similarly appear with all kinds of verbs and do not
change the aspectual nature, but involve not arguments but rather activity and
event nouns, commonly adjectivally modified. The status of the object as
(non-)referential in a given language is diagnosed by its (in)ability to be
questioned, to undergo passivisation, and to appear with all kinds of
determiners, among others. In contrast, the core of English COCs are argued to
only occur with unergatives and furthermore to have the potential to change the
aspectual nature of the underlying verb (from non-terminative to terminative and
thus to a telic VP). English COs are non-referential and non-argumental, and
this construction is viewed as a telic alternative to the otherwise atelic VPs
based on non-terminative unergative verbs. They propose that the aspectual
change is mediated by a lexical rule, which is similar in nature to the lexical
rule responsible for combining activity verbs or manner of motion verbs with
secondary resultative predicates or goal phrases into a complex accomplishment
predicate (e.g. ‘dance onto the stage’). In a cross-linguistic perspective it
has been shown (e.g. Beck & Snyder 2001) that languages that have strong
resultatives can also combine manner of motion verbs with goal PPs to derive an
accomplishment. Horrocks & Stavrou propose that the ‘aspectual’ COCs of the
English type pattern with these constructions, given that English, unlike Greek
and Hebrew, has all three constructions to derive complex accomplishment
predicates with activity verbs. They tie this to the fact that languages like
Greek and Hebrew express grammatical aspect on verb stems, with every verb form
being specified for grammatical aspect, so that these pairs of verbs have to be
listed separately in the lexicon. It is argued that as a result the lexical
aspect of an event description, which grammatical aspect operates on to derive
the overall aspectual interpretation, has to be fixed at the lexical level, once
and for all, and that it cannot be changed in the syntax by adding resultatives
or similar phrases. A potential problem for their overall cross-linguistic
generalisation is (most) Romance languages, which do not have strong
resultatives or the complex motion predicates mentioned above (cf. Beck & Snyder
2001), but which have grammatical aspect only in past tense forms.

In ‘Locales’, Hagit Borer addresses post-verbal subjects in Hebrew, Italian and
Catalan. Besides the well-known restrictions on the availability of post-verbal
subjects (they cannot be external arguments or strong NPs), she makes the new
observation that common post-verbal subject cases are rather limited and only
occur with (a subset of the) achievement predicates. Furthermore, the events
involved in these cases are interpreted as telic, despite their lacking a
‘quantity expression’ (they can only occur with weak nouns), which, by
assumption, is otherwise necessary for a telic interpretation to arise. She
proposes that post-verbal subject order is licensed in these cases by a covert
‘locale’ provided by such predicates, which is a locative associated with the
location of the event. The locale existentially binds the event argument, which
in turn binds its argument forcing it to be weak, yielding the post-verbal
order. Borer proposes that a similar mechanism leads to the telic interpretation
of achievements in the absence of a quantity expression in that the covert
locale also licenses ASP-Q, which, by assumption, is necessary for a telic
interpretation to arise. Her account correctly predicts that overt locales, such
as ‘here’, ‘there’ (or Catalan ‘hi’), have a similar effect as the covert ones,
in that they can license a postverbal position of the subject with other event
and clause types, which usually do not occur with this word order. Also in these
cases the subject must be weak; the overt locale has to be weak as well and is
necessarily adjacent to the verb, unstressed, and may not be coordinated.

In ‘Modal and Temporal Aspects of Habituality’, Nora Boneh and Edit Doron
discuss two different strategies to express habituality in English, Hebrew, and
Polish, a simple form (e.g. ‘Yael worked in the garden’) and a periphrastic form
(e.g. ‘Yael used to work in the garden’). Both are argued to express a state
since habituals, by assumption, are stative, but to differ in the sense that the
periphrastic form expresses a retrospective view on the state, to the effect
that it is felt as disjoint from the speech time S, whereas the simple form
allows the state holding at S. They propose that the disjointness effect with
the periphrastic form arises from a scalar implicature, due to stronger forms to
express that a habit continues until S, namely the English present perfect and
the Hebrew simple present. They analyse the periphrastic form as a complex
aspect, with the reference time R preceding the perspective time P. Even though
habituality strongly correlates with imperfectivity, especially in the Romance
languages, they show that habituality is independent of imperfectivity, which,
by definition, involves the inclusion of R in the event time E, since perfective
verb forms also allow for habitual readings (where E, the time of the habitual
state, is included in R). Furthermore they argue that habituality has a modal
character and that the modal operator in habituals is distinct from that in
imperfectives, since it includes dispositionality. They define a modal operator
Hab, which involves an initiation event and iteration in possible worlds and
which adjoins to the VP, with this modified VP being the input to aspectual
operators. With the simple form, Hab is taken to be the input to a perfective or
imperfective operator, whereas with the periphrastic form they postulate a
higher aspectual operator -Hab, realised as, e.g., ‘used to’, which predicates
actualisation and ‘distancing’ from P. A main contribution of this paper lies in
the dissociation of habituality from imperfectivity. Its shortcoming, however,
is that it starts out with the promise to analyse habituality in English,
Hebrew, and Polish, but in the end discusses data mainly from English and
Hebrew, and it is not clear whether Polish works the same way. In addition, some
claims about Polish are rather vague and questionable (e.g. that Polish does not
have grammatical aspect but only lexical aspect, or that states cannot be


The papers in this volume address important and current issues in the semantics
and morphosyntax of event predicates, employing different frameworks and
covering a broad empirical basis. It will be of great service to scholars
interested in the domain of events and could easily constitute the basis for a
graduate course on this topic. The coherence of the volume is strengthened by
the fact that similar topics are addressed from different points of view (e.g.
lexicalisation constraints in a lexical, syntactic, or cognitive-cultural
perspective; causativisation as a lexical or syntactic operation; the semantic
basis for diagnostics to distinguish between different classes of event
predicates; the verb-framed vs. satellite-framed typology and its extension to
other empirical domains), which is acknowledged by cross-references in a number
of papers. Finally, it achieves its goal to honour and recognise the work of
Anita Mittwoch, which, as the editors note, ‘has stood the test of time’, with
Mittwoch’s deep understanding of linguistic phenomena in the domain of
aspectuality and temporality leading to the profound impact her work has had on
the research in this area.

The volume is carefully edited, but what could have been improved is the
uniformity of the single list of references, for example, by instructing authors
to check whether a manuscript has been published in the meantime, by specifying
if a particular paper or book has been reprinted, or by adding missing page
numbers and other information. Instead, several references are repeated as
manuscripts or just because they were not cited exactly the same, or because
they were more or less reprinted in identical form.


Beck, Sigrid, and William Snyder (2001). Complex predicates and goal PPs:
Evidence for a semantic parameter. In Proceedings of the 25th Annual Boston
University Conference on Language Development, Vol. 1, ed. H.-J. Do, L.
Domingez, and A. Johansen. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, 114-122.

Croft, William (1991). Syntactic Categories and Grammatical Relations. Chicago:
Chicago University Press.

Levin, Beth, and Malka Rappaport Hovav (to appear). Lexicalized meaning and
manner/result complementarity. In The Subatomic Semantics of Event Predicates,
ed. B. Arsenijević, B. Gehrke, and R. Marín. Dordrecht: Springer.

Berit Gehrke is a postdoctoral researcher in formal semantics at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, currently investigating issues related to the ontological foundation of events in verbal and non-verbal predicates, as well as the semantics of participles and constructions employing these. Her dissertation ‘Ps in Motion’ (2008, Utrecht) investigates the semantic and syntactic role that P elements (adpositions, prefixes, particles) with a spatial semantics play in the structure of motion events.

Format: Hardback
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ISBN-13: 9780199544325
Pages: 424
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ISBN: 0199544336
ISBN-13: 9780199544332
Pages: 424
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