The special properties that psych(ological) verbs manifest cross-linguistically have given rise to on-going debates in syntactic and semantic theorizing. Regarding their lexical aspect classification, while verbal psych predicates with the Experiencer argument mapped onto the subject (SE psych predicates) have generally been analyzed as stative, there is little agreement on what kinds of eventualities object Experiencer (OE) psych predicates describe. On the stative reading, OE psych predicates have been classified as atelic causative states. On the (non-agentive) eventive reading, they have been widely analyzed as telic change of state predicates and classified as achievements or as accomplishments. Based on Polish, Rozwadowska (2003, 2012) argues that nonagentive eventive OE psych predicates in the perfective aspect denote an onset of a state and that they are atelic rather than telic. This paper offers further support for the view that Polish perfective psych verbs do not denote a change of state, i.e., a transition from α to ¬α. The evidence is drawn from verbal comparison and the distribution of the comparative degree quantifier jeszcze bardziej ‘even more’ in perfective psych predicates. It is argued here that in contexts including jeszcze bardziej ‘even more’, the perfective predication denotes an onset of a state whose degree of intensity exceeds the comparative standard. While a degree quantifier attached to the VP in the syntax contributes a differential measure function that returns a (vague) value representing the degree to which the intensity of the Experiencer’s state exceeds the comparative standard in the event, it does not affect the event structure of the perfective verb and it does not provide the VP denotation it modifies with a final endpoint. As the perfective picks the onset of an upper open state, perfective psych predicates typically give rise to an atelic interpretation.
The PERFECT constitutes a puzzling category for typologists, historical linguists and formal semanticists alike. Is it a tense? Is it an aspect? Which grammatical forms qualify as PERFECTS? What is the core of the PERFECT meaning? This short paper suggests that progress can be made if we start using the wealth of digitized language data that has become available to uncover the semantics of the PERFECT through its contextual usages across languages.
This paper is a contribution to a long-standing debate between constructionist, lexicalist, and emergentist schools of thought related to the question of what determines the category of lexically ambiguous words whose meanings belong to different syntactic categories (e.g., duck, walk). In the lexicalist view part-of-speech information is stored in the mental lexicon. According to the syntax-first (or constructionist) view, the ambiguous word is assigned to the syntactic category NOUN or VERB solely on the basis of the morphosyntactic frame in which it occurs irrespective of its meaning. In contrast, the emergentist view assumes an interaction of many constraints (semantic and syntactic) whereby semantic constraints are weaker than syntactic constraints in the resolution of word class ambiguities because while semantic context only favors one of the meanings of ambiguous words but does not exclude the competitors, syntactic context supports one meaning of an ambiguous word by ruling out its alternative interpretation. We intend to provide an overview of recent psycholinguistic studies focusing on the processing of word-class ambiguities in order to show that the syntax-first approach is too restrictive while the emergentist view is too permissive. What seems to be at issue is that when grammatical category-ambiguous words are processed, it is not that all constraints are available at the same time and they compete but rather different sources of information can be predicted to affect the process of lexical disambiguation at different stages during processing.
The goal of this paper is two-fold. In the first part, I will offer a closer look into the nature of the instrumental case in Polish. In the literature, the instrumental case has been identified as a lexical, predicational, and a default case. In this paper, I will review the arguments for these distinctions, and argue that a default usage of instrumental is empirically not tenable. In the second part, an analysis of obligatory control constructions with the instrumental and agreeing case on predicates is discussed. It will be proposed that predicates that agree with their subjects are bare adjectives, whereas instrumental adjectives are situated within a DP with its head noun being optionally elided. As a last point, I will show how control mechanisms forbid bare adjectives in object control.
The purpose of the present paper is to analyze L2 and L3 production and comprehension from a cognitive-pragmatic point of view, taking into account Relevance Theory (Sperber and Wilson, 1986; Wilson and Sperber, 2006), Mental Models Theory (Johnson-Laird, 1983) and the Graded Salience Hypothesis (Giora, 1997). Special attention is paid to error analysis and to the detection of error sources, especially in the case of errors not attributable to transfer, interference or overgeneralization. The paper is based on three studies involving, first, L2 and L3 production (Study 1), both production and comprehension (Study 2) and L3 comprehension (Study 3). In general, the phenomena observed can be explained by a combination of Relevance Theory, Mental Models Theory and the Graded Salience Hypothesis. In fact, even when transfer is used as a strategy, its use is relevant to the learner, who assumes that it will be relevant to the recipient as well. The results also shed some light on the multilingual mental lexicon and multiple language processing.
This short piece addresses the confusion over terminology that has reigned, and partly still reigns, when it comes to the concept of Universal Grammar (UG). It is argued that whilst there might be changes in terminology and theory, conceptually UG cannot be eliminated. From a biolinguistic perspective, UG is not a hypothesis by any rational epistemological standard, but an axiom. Along these lines, the contemporary evolutionary perspective on the language faculty (FL) is briefly discussed to then argue that UG is necessarily part of FL in both a narrow and broad sense. Ultimately, regardless of terminology, UG is inevitably one of the factors determining the growth of FL.
This article investigates diminutive affixes in four unrelated languages: Maale, Walman, Kolyma Yukaghir, and Itelmen, with additional discussion of German, Breton, and Yiddish. The data show variation in the syntax of diminutives. Diminutives differ cross-linguistically in the manner and place of attachment in a syntactic tree. In terms of the manner of attachment, some diminutive affixes are shown to behave as syntactic heads, while others show a behaviour characteristic of syntactic modifiers. In terms of the place of attachment, some affixes attach in the number position, while others attach above it. This article contributes to a discussion of form-function correspondence between syntactic categories (Wiltschko, in press). It shows that although diminutives across languages have the same meaning (or function), they significantly differ in their syntactic structures (or form). Thus, there is no 1:1 correspondence between form and function of diminutives in terms of the attachment and ordering of morphemes.
Syntactic approaches to the positioning of adjuncts (e.g., Frey and Pittner (1998), Maienborn (2001), Frey (2003), Pittner (2004), Steube (2006)) postulate base positions for frame as well as for sentence adverbials above the entire proposition. The question arises how these two adverbial types are positioned in relation to each other. Syntactic accounts respond differently to this question. Furthermore, the role of semantic and pragmatic factors for the positioning of adverbials is disputable. The current paper presents the results of two psycholinguistic experiments that provide evidence for a base position account of frame and sentence adverbials. Furthermore, a non-syntactic factor - namely the referentiality of frame adverbials - is shown to influence position preferences.