On (im)possible verb meanings: the role of intentionality
Josep Ausensi
March 2020

An important question in lexical semantics relates to (im)possible verb meanings, i.e. whether there are constraints in the lexical entailments of verbs. In this respect, Rappaport Hovav and Levin (2010) argue that verbs are constrained in terms of truth-conditional content insofar as a single verb encodes a manner of action or a result state, but never both. In the present paper, I defend the view put forth in Beavers and Koontz-Garboden (2012) regarding the claim that verbs are actually not constrained in terms of lexical entailments, insofar as the truth-conditional content of verbs can indeed make reference to both a manner and a result. To this end, I focus on what I call murder(i.e. murder, slay, assassinate, massacre and slaughter) and manner-of-stealing verbs (i.e. rob, mug, seize and snatch) and argue that these verbal classes encode a manner of action that brings about a result state. Regarding the manner of action, I argue that such verbal classes encode an intentional-type action that is performed in order to bring about a specific result state. Thus, I contend that agent entailments, in this case, intentionality, are sufficient to induce manner properties. Last, by making use of sublexical modification, I show that the manner and result entailments of murder and manner-of-stealing verbs are encoded in a single root and therefore showing that root meanings can be more complex than previously assumed.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005008
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Manuscript under review -- Comments/Feedback welcome!
keywords: lexical semantics; verb meaning; roots; manner; result; intentionality; sublexical modification, semantics, syntax
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