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Review of  Secondary Predication and Adverbial Modification

Reviewer: Martin Schäfer
Book Title: Secondary Predication and Adverbial Modification
Book Author: Nikolaus P. Himmelmann Eva Schultze-Berndt
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
Issue Number: 17.114

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Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2006 13:42:20 +0100 (MET)
From: Martin Schaefer
Subject: Secondary Predication and Adverbial Modification: The
Typology of Depictives

EDITORS: Himmelmann, Nikolaus P.; Schultze-Berndt, Eva
TITLE: Secondary Predication and Adverbial Modification
SUBTITLE: The Typology of Depictives
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
YEAR: 2005

Martin Schäfer, Institute of Linguistics, University of Leipzig


The book is a collection of 13 papers on the syntax and semantics of
depictives and related constructions in a variety of languages. All but
the introduction and the contribution by Valenzuela go back to
contributions to a workshop on 'Depictives in Crosslinguistic
Perspective', organized in 2001 by the editors (The editors' position
paper for that workshop has since appeared as Schultze-Berndt &
Himmelmann (2004)). The investigation of depictives has a very
peripheral status in linguistics. Stock examples for this type of
secondary predication are adjectives like 'angry' in (1a), a subject
depictive, and 'raw' in (1b), an object depictive.

(1a) Peter came home angry.
(1b) John ate the meat raw.

Little is known about the exact semantics of depictives or about the
ways depictives like those in (1) are expressed in other languages.
The collection significantly enlarges the data available for the study of
depictives and presents many new ideas with regard to their syntax
and semantics. It is of interest to all linguists working on secondary
predication or adverbial modification.


The book starts out with the excellent introduction ''Issues in the
syntax and semantics of participant-oriented adjuncts'' by the editors,
N. P. Himmelmann and Eva Schultze-Berndt, pp. 1-67. In the first part,
the authors introduce the basic terminology used throughout the
volume. The following differentiations are made:
a) 'participant-oriented adjuncts' denote a state or condition which
temporally overlaps with the state of affairs designated by the main
predicate. Examples for participant-oriented adjuncts are depictives,
participant-oriented manner adverbials (e.g. 'angrily' in 'Peter left
angrily'), and circumstantials.
b) 'depictives proper' are participant-oriented adjuncts that are part of
the focus domain of a sentence (cf. e.g. the adjectives in (1)).
c) 'circumstantials' are participant-oriented adjuncts that are not part
of the focus domain of a sentence (e.g. 'as a young girl' in H & SB's
(24) 'As a young girl Sarah did not travel to Paris alone').
d) 'depictives (in the broad sense)' compromise depictives proper and
circumstantials. In addition, the term 'depictives' is restricted to those
expressions that can be distinguished from event-oriented adjuncts
(e.g. manner adverbials like 'slowly' in 'Peter read the review
slowly') on morphosyntactic grounds.
e) 'general adjunct constructions' can receive event-oriented or
participant-oriented interpretations.

In the second part, they present the range of semantic functions
participant-oriented expressions can serve. This is illustrated with a
semantic map for participant-oriented expressions. The third part lists
five parameters that play a major role in a morphosyntactic typology of
participant-oriented adjuncts: the combinatorics of oriented adjuncts
and main predicates, the syntactic function/semantic role of the
controller of the oriented adjunct, the syntactic position of the adjunct,
the word class/internal structure of the adjunct, and the morphological
marking of the adjunct.

''Depictives in English and Warlpiri'' by Jane Simpson, pp. 69-106,
argues that in Warlpiri depictives have clearly adjunct status, showing
great flexibility with respect to word order and interpretation. In
addition, there are only few constraints on what can serve as a
depictive and of what the depictive predicates. In contrast, English
depictives have more in common with resultative complements,
exhibiting different properties depending on what they are predicated
of and showing restrictions with respect to the lexicosemantic class of
the main verb.

Thomas Müller-Bardey, in ''Adverbials and depictives as restrictors'',
pp. 107-140, attempts to characterize depictives and adverbials with
respect to their ability to be part of the restrictor in quantificational
relations. He proposes to analyze depictives as two-place predicates
of the form DEPICTIVE(x,e).

In ''Depictive agreement and the development of a depictive marker in
Swiss German dialects'', pp. 141-171, Claudia Bucheli Berger
describes predicative and depictive marking in Swiss German dialects.
Of the three types of dialects she discusses, one behaves like
standard German (i.e., exhibiting attributive agreement but not
depictive or predicative agreement). In contrast, in the Wallis dialects,
depictive and predicative agreement exist. Finally, the dialects of the
Appenzellerland use a genuine depictive marker, apart from having
attributive agreement.

''Quantifying depictive secondary predicates in Australian languages''
by William B. McGregor, pp. 173-200, discusses participant-oriented
quantifiers in Australian languages, e.g. the usage of numerals
like 'one' in the sense of 'alone'. The author argues that a
dependency relation of attribution is essential to secondary predicate

Winfried Boeder's ''Depictives in Kartvelian'', pp. 201-236, gives a
survey of depictives in the Kartvelian or South Caucasian language
family, focussing especially on Georgian and Svan. It is shown that
depictives expressing condition, state or concomitance and manner
expressions, that is, adverbials, are used in similar contexts.

In ''On depictive secondary predicates in Laz'', pp. 237-258, Silvia
Kutscher and N. Sevim Genc discuss the morphosyntactic, semantic
and prosodic characteristics of depictive secondary predication in Laz,
another Kartvelian language. They show that Laz does not have a
unique segmental or distributional means to mark depictives, with the
possible exception of reduplicated numerals functioning as distributive
quantifiers. Prosody allows to distinguish depictives and manner
expressions in pre-predicate position.

''Participant agreement in Panoan'' by Pilar M. Valenzuela, pp. 259-
298, examines participant agreement (PA) in Shipibo-Konibo, a
Panoan language spoken along the Ucayali river in Peru. With respect
to their PA morphology, the author distinguishes 5 adjunct types and
correlates these with the degree of participant vs event orientation.

In ''Secondary predicates and adverbials in Nilotic and Omotic: a
typological comparison'', pp. 299-321, Azeb Amha and Gerrit J.
Dimmendaal investigate secondary predicates in Nilotic languages
(spoken in Ethiopia) and Omotic languages (spoken in the north and
east of lake Victoria). They discuss possible relations between the
expression types used to encode participant-oriented adjuncts and
other typological parameters of the respective languages.

Tom Güldemann's ''Asyndetic subordination and deverbal depictive
expressions in Shona'', pp. 323-353, investigates deverbal secondary
predicates in Shona, the major Bantu language of Zimbabwe. 'Free-
subject dependent predicates' constitute a general adjunct
construction, allowing depictive and several adverbial usages.
Güldemann also argues for the importance of assertive focus in the
determination of depictives.

In ''Forms of secondary predication in serializing languages: on
depictives in Ewe'', pp. 355-378, Felix. K. Ameka argues that Ewe, a
Kwa language of West Africa, has nominal depictive secondary
predicates. In addition, he discusses whether serial verb constructions
can serve as depictives.

''Depictive and other secondary predication in Lao'' by Nicholas J.
Enfield, pp. 379-391, gives a concise overview of expressions
functioning as depictives and other secondary predicates in Lao, an
isolating language. The structures discussed all can have various
functions; Lao lacks a dedicated depictive construction.

The collection ends with ''A semantic map for depictive adjectivals'' by
Johan van der Auwera and Andrej Malchukov, pp. 393-421. After a
short introduction to semantic maps, the authors develop a semantic
map for adjectival constructions.


The book makes a very compact impression in that all authors,
although covering very different aspects of depictives and participant-
oriented adjuncts, discuss their findings in view of the positions held
by the editors in the introduction or in Schultze-Berndt & Himmelmann
(2004). Probably the most intriguing outcome of the book is that
the 'traditional' view on depictives has been far too simplistic. As the
editors argue in the introduction, it appears that many semantic
adjunct types are both participant- and event-oriented, albeit to very
different degrees. As a consequence, there exists competition as to
whether the participant-orientation or the event-orientation is
morphosyntactically encoded, that is, whether a depictive or an
adverbial construction is used. An English example for this sort of
competition is (2), where (2a) has the adverbial 'angrily', and (2b) the
depictive 'angry'.
(2a) John angrily read the review.
(2b) John left the party angry.
= (11b-c), p.8

This kind of opposition between 'angry' and 'angrily' is one of the
many cases which leave the non-native speaker of the respective
language wondering about what kind of semantic contrast this
possibly could encode (though at least (2) is amply discussed in the
introduction and in Geuder (2000)). That the English data do not
represent an isolated case is shown in many examples throughout the
volume, cf. (3) for another example revolving around 'angriness', this
time from Shona.

ndaka-mu-tuka zvaka-shata
1SG:SBJ:REM:PST-10BJ-scold 8MAN.RS.STAT-become.bad
'I scolded him angrily.'
aka-taura zv-ose izvi aka-shatirwa
1.REM.PST-speak 8INAN-all 8DEM 1.FS.STAT-become.angry
'He said all these things in a state of anger.'
= (42), p. 341

That several possibilities of encoding are not restricted to these kinds
of 'psychological predicates' is shown in (4), an example from the
Omotic language Turkana.

e-pes-e-te nesi e-rono
3-kick-ASP-PL 3SG.ABS 3-be.bad:SG
'They kick him/her/it badly.'
e-pes-e-te nesi ni-aronon(i)
3-kick-ASP-PL 3SG.ABS REL-badly
'They kick him/her/it in a bad way.'
= (3), p. 303

Even 'raw' can in some languages be encoded as either depictive or
adverbial, cf. (5) from Georgian.

xorc-i um-i / um-ad miqvars
meat-NOM raw-NOM / raw-ADV
'I like meat raw.'
= (116), p. 229

Boeder's comment on (5), ''Subtle differences in meaning remain to be
investigated.'' can in fact be applied to many more examples in the

Another very interesting point raised in the introduction concerns the
role of focus in defining depictives. Thus the introduction argues that
depictives proper are always part of the focus domain whereas
circumstantials are not, although both ''are participant-oriented
adjuncts which convey a state of affairs which temporally overlaps with
the state of affairs conveyed by the main predicate.'' (p. 19). It is not
quite clear to me to what extent this differentiation makes sense,
especially when the so-differentiated circumstantials and depictives
proper show no further semantic difference. I would rather subscribe
to the more cautious conclusion of the discussion of the role of
assertive focus in T. Güldemann's contribution, namely that ''the
inherent focal status of depictives [...] has heuristic potential for
distinguishing such expressions from formally related ones.''

All in all, this book provides an excellent resource for anyone
interested in depictives, adverbials and related constructions.


Geuder, Wilhelm (2000). Oriented Adverbs: Issues in the Lexical
Semantics of Event Adverbs. Ph.D. dissertation, Universität Konstanz

Schultze-Berndt, Eva & Nikolaus P. Himmelmann (2004). 'Depictive
secondary predicates in crosslinguistic perspective', Linguistic
Typology 8(1): 59-131 (Revised manuscript received in 2001!)

Martin Schäfer works at the Institute of Linguistics at the University of
Leipzig. He recently completed his PhD thesis on "German adverbial
adjectives: syntactic position and semantic interpretation".

Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0199272263
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 474
Prices: U.K. £ 65.00