LINGUIST List 26.4848

Mon Nov 02 2015

Calls: General Ling, Ling Theories, Typology/Italy

Editor for this issue: Ashley Parker <>

Date: 02-Nov-2015
From: Anna Pompei <>
Subject: Light Verb Constructions as Ccomplex verbs
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Full Title: Light Verb Constructions as Ccomplex verbs

Date: 31-Aug-2016 - 03-Sep-2016
Location: Naples, Italy
Contact Person: Anna Pompei
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Typology

Call Deadline: 18-Nov-2015

Meeting Description:

''Light verb constructions as complex verbs. Features, typology and function''

(For the complete description of the workshop and possible topics see the following link:


This workshop aims at addressing the topic of light verb constructions (LVCs) as monoclausal complex predicates. In particular, we encourage submissions discussing different degrees of cohesion, verb lightness, noun predicativeness and referentiality in LVCs.


Complex verbs (CVs) are analytical predicates composed of more than one linguistic item, each of which contributes a non-trivial part of the semantic information associated to a complex predicate (Alsina et al. 1997). Among other possible structures, we will take into account light verbs (LVs) as CVs (Butt 2010).

LVCs are structures composed of a predicative noun and a semantically bleached verb (cf. e.g. to take a walk), traditionally called light verb (Jespersen 1965). They are analytical predicates corresponding to synthetic verbs.
LVs are usually considered as having high generality of meaning, polysemy, and the only function of codifying grammatical features, such as TAM features and person (G. Gross, 2004); for this reason M. Gross (1981) defines them as verbes supports. On the other hand, the noun of LVCs is usually considered as semantically full, as well as the nucleus of the predication (De Miguel, 2006).

However, we can assume that the verb is not always semantically empty. For instance, basic LVs (e.g. to make, in to make a war) have been distinguished from LVs coding either an aspectual feature (e.g. inchoative, as in to take charge) or a diathetic one (e.g. passive, as is the case of to take advice vs. to give advice) (Gross 2004). Moreover, basic LVs can impose selectional restrictions (cf. e.g. Grimshaw & Mester, 1988), and can have a partially unspecified argument structure (cf. Di Sciullo & Rosen, 1990). This means that they can affect both the event and the argument structure.

On the other hand, nouns can have different degrees of predicativeness. For instance, in to have a cold, the predication of a temporary physiological state is due both to the stative verb and the semantics of the noun, which denotes a non-permanent physiological state. In such an instance, there is a high degree of morpho-syntactic cohesion (Simone 2007) between the two members of the LVCs, as is shown by the impossibility of syntactic operations such as passivization and object extraction.

Due to the high degree of morpho-syntactic cohesion in some types of LVCs, syntactic incorporation has sometimes been called upon. For instance, Baños (2012) speaks of syntactic incorporation for the Latin light verb ludos facere ‘to make fun (of somebody)’, and takes into account the differences between the light verb bellum gero ‘to make a war’ and the compound belligero ‘to make a war’, which is a sort of morphological incorporation stored in the lexicon.
Besides LVs occurring with a predicative noun, there are other patterns, which have been less studied, such as [V+PP] (e.g. to take into account, to have in mind), [V+Adv] (e.g. to get well), [V+Adj] (e.g. to get fat, to make available), and [V+V] (e.g. to put to use). Although they occur less frequently than the construction with a noun, they show similar shifts in cohesion, which are bound to change in constituency patterns, argument and event structure.


Raffaele Simone, Lunella Mereu, Anna Pompei, Valentina Piunno (Roma Tre University)

Call for Papers:

We invite short abstracts of 300 words (excluding references), to be sent to The deadline for submissions will be 18 November 2015.

The workshop will be a part of the 49th Annual Meeting of SLE Conference (Naples, 31 August - 3 September). We invite submissions addressing different theoretical and methodological frameworks. In particular, we encourage proposals for presentations on the following topics:

Different degrees of verb lightness
- Implications in terms of both morpho-syntactic cohesion, and event and argument structure
- Efficiency of tests measuring verb lightness in light verb constructions
- Similarities and differences between light verb constructions and corresponding synthetic verbs
- Relationship between light verbs and the so-called ‘extensions’
- Relationship between light verbs and the corresponding full verbs (e.g. to make in to make a war vs. to make a cake)
- Similarities and differences between light verbs and other verbs showing lightness (phase verbs, auxiliaries, copular verbs, etc.)

Different degrees of noun predicativeness and referentiality
- Implications in terms of both morpho-syntactic cohesion, and event and argument structure
- Types of noun occurring in light verb constructions
- Efficiency of tests measuring noun predicativeness and/or referentiality in light verb constructions
- Similarities and differences between light verb constructions with scarcely referential nouns and incorporation

Light verb constructions
- Different patterns of light verb constructions ([V+N]V, [V+PP]V, [V+Adv]V, [V+Adj]V, [V+V]V)
- Applicability of the tests developed for the pattern [V+N]V to other patterns
- Different degrees of both morpho-syntactic cohesion, and event and argument structure in light verb constructions showing patterns different from [V+N]V
- Comparison between the features of light verb constructions in languages where they represent the typical verbal construction (i.e. Persian) and their features in languages where there are both light verb constructions and synthetic verbs
- Relationship between the presence of light verb constructions in a language, and its morphological typology and/or its areal placement

Other possible topics
- Comparison between light verb constructions and other complex predicates
- Computational analysis and representation of light verb constructions
- Sociolinguistic traits of light verb constructions
- Relationship between light verbs and light nouns

Page Updated: 02-Nov-2015