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The Semantics of Object Control Verbs. Sublexical Modality and Situational Core

Publication: Analele Universității din București. Limba și literatura română, LVII
Publisher:Editura Universității din Bucureşti
Abstract:The paper proposes an HPSG semantic analysis of object control verbs (OCVs). The aim is to build an analysis able to incorporate the idea that OCVs form a semantic natural class, without appeal to ad-hoc semantic concepts. In section 1 I describe the main properties of OCVs. In section 2 I present Pollard and Sag’s (1994) analysis of OCVs, which is the starting point of my analysis. I show that Pollard and Sag’s account contains the important idea that subcategorization regularities of these verbs are the consequence of the fact that they have a common semantic structure. This amounts to say that in fact OCVs form a (semantic) natural class. In subsection 2.2 I show, however, that one of the concepts used in Pollard and Sag’s analysis, the semantic role INFLUENCED, is problematic in that it resists attempts of being characterized in terms of Dowty’s role entailments (Dowty 1991), as long as it does not exhibit properties of undergoer (patient). As a consequence, in section 3 I prospect the chances of an alternative account, inspired by Davis (2001). I prove that this possible new approach has another drawback, namely it misses Pollard and Sag’s hypothesis that OCVs form a semantic natural class. In section 4 I propose an analysis which recovers the hypothesis of OCVs as a semantic natural class and makes no appeal to ad-hoc semantic concepts. The analysis is based on Koenig and Davis’ (2001) lexical semantics distinction between situational core and modal base.
Key words:object control verbs, semantic role entailments, situational core, modal base
Language: English

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