Directed motion entailments in the semantics of roots: A root-sensitive approach
Josep Ausensi, RyanWalter Smith, Jianrong Yu
September 2021

Syntactic, decompositional theories of verb meaning hold that verbs are created in the syntax by merging roots, which provide idiosyncratic information, with functional heads, which introduce structural components of meaning such as change or causation. In this paper, we examine the consequences of such a view for verbs of inherently directed motion like arrive, enter, ascend, descend, depart, leave, etc. (Levin, 1993; Rappaport Hovav, 2014). We show that this class of verbs does not show uniform behavior with respect to sub-lexical modification with modifiers like again and durative temporal modifiers, which are well-established diagnostics for decompositional theories of verb meaning (e.g., Dowty, 1979; von Stechow, 1996; Beck and Johnson, 2004). This suggests that a syntactic, decompositional view may be appropriate only for some of these verbs, while others must contain all directed motion entailments within their verb roots. We argue that a root-sensitive approach to lexical decomposition of this verb class is necessary in order to account for their distinct grammatical properties.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005738
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 25
keywords: lexical semantics, verbs of inherently directed motion, roots, event structure, sub-lexical modification, semantics, syntax
previous versions: v2 [February 2021]
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