Open access


The goal of this paper is to provide a unified account of word order and constituency of serial verb constructions (SVCs) in the framework of generative grammar. It is argued that both SVO-type and SOV-type SVCs follow the Temporal Iconicity, which is associated with the asymmetric nature of syntactic structure, i.e. V1 or VP1 c-commands V2 or VP2 asymmetrically. Based on this argument, an analysis for the derivation of SVCs - Inter-VP Asymmetrical C-command Analysis - is proposed to account for the derivation of SVCs in various languages. It is argued that in the SVC there exists a null predicate and a null argument, the occurrence or non-occurrence of which gives rise to different types of SVCs. Furthermore, left peripheral deletion (LPD) triggers the movement of VP1’s Spec to [Spec IP] and the occurrence of VP2’s Spec as pro, as a result of which VP1 asymmetrically c-commands VP2. Object gapping triggers the ATB movement of VP2 to generate various types of SVCs. The differences between coordinative constructions, pivotal constructions and SVCs lie in their internal structure but not in the verb position.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Aboh Enoch. 2009. “Clause Structure and Verb Series.” Linguistic Inquiry 40(1) 1-33.

  • Abraham Werner Epstein Samuel David Thrainsson Höskuldur Zwart Jan-Wouter (eds.). 1996. Minimalist Ideas: Syntactic Studies in the Minimalist Framework. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Aikhenvald Alexandra. 2005. “Serial Verb Construction in Typological Perspective.” In: Aikhenvald & Dixon 2005.

  • Aikhenvald Alexandra Dixon Robert Malcolm Ward (eds.). 2005. Serial Verb Constructions: A Cross-Linguis­tic Typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • An Duk-Ho. 2006. “Asymmetric T-to-C Movement in ATB Constructions: A PF Deletion Analysis.” Proceedings of ConSOLE XIV 1-19 .

  • Anagnostopoulou Elena. 2003. The Syntax ofDitransitives: Evidence from Clitics. Berlin: Mounton de Gruyter.

  • Arends Jacques Muysken Pieter Smith Norval (eds.) 1995. Pidgins and Creoles: An Introduction. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Baker Mark. 1989. “Object Sharing and Projection in Serial Verb Constructions.” Linguistic Inquiry 20 513-554.

  • Baker Mark. 2002. On Zero Agreement and Polysynthesis. Ms. Rutgers University.

  • Baker Mark Stewart Osamuyimen. 2002. A Serial Verb Construction Without Constructions. Ms. Rutgers University.

  • Barss Andrew Lasnik Howard. 1986. “A Note on Anaphora and Double Objects.” Linguistic Inquiry 17 347­354.

  • Beck Sigrid Johnson Kyle. 2004. “Double Objects Again.” Linguistic Inquiry 35 97-124.

  • Beermann Dorothee Hellan Lars (eds.). 2003. Proceedings of the Workshop on Multi-Verb Constructions Trondheim. Trondheim: Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

  • Belletti Adriana (ed.). 2004. Structures and Beyond: The Cartography of Syntactic Structures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Bierwisch Manfred Heidolph Karl Erich (eds.). 1970. Progress in Linguistics. The Hague: Mouton.

  • Bošković Željko. 1997. “Coordination Object Shift and V-movement.” Linguistic Inquiry 28 357-364.

  • Bruening Benjamin. 2010. “Double Object Constructions Disguised as Prepositional Datives.” Linguistic In­quiry 41 287-305.

  • Campbell Richard. 1989. The Grammatical Structure of Verbal Predicates. Ph.D. dissertation UCLA.

  • Carstens Vicki. 2002. “Antisymmetry and Word Order in Serial Constructions.” Language 70(1) 3-50.

  • Chafe Wallace. 1979. “The Flow of Thought and the Flow of Language.” In: Givón 1979: 159-181.

  • Chang Claire Hsun-huei. 1990. “On Serial Verbs in Mandarin Chinese: VV Compounds and Co-verbial Phrases.” Ohio State University Working Papers in Linguistics 39 288-315.

  • Cheng Gong. 1999. Linguistic Universalism. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

  • Choi Seongsook. 2003. “Serial Verbs and the Empty Category.” In: Beermann & Hellan 2003: 39-48.

  • Chomsky Noam. 1995. The Minimalist Program. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

  • Chomsky Noam. 1999. “Derivation by Phase.” MIT Occasional Papers in Linguistics 18. [Revised version ap­peared as Chomsky 2001].

  • Chomsky Noam. 2000. “Minimalist Inquiries: the Framework.” In: Martin et al. 2000: 89-155.

  • Chomsky Noam. 2001. “Derivation by Phase.” In: Kenstowicz 2001: 1-52.

  • Chomsky Noam. 2004. “Beyond Explanatory Adequacy.” In: Belletti 2004: 104-131.

  • Chomsky Noam. 2005. “Three Factors in Language Design.” Linguistic Inquiry 36 1-22.

  • Chomsky Noam. 2007. “Approaching UG from Below.” In: Sauerland & Gärtner 2007: 1-29.

  • Collins Chris. 1997. “Argument Sharing in Serial Verb Constructions.” Linguistic Inquiry 28(3) 461-497.

  • Comrie Bernard. 1985. Tense. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Dai John Xiang-ling. 1990. “Syntactic Constructions in Serial Verb Expressions in Chinese.” In: Joseph & Zwicky 1990: 316-339.

  • Dai Manchun. 2003. “Generalized Derivations in Syntactic Computations.” Foreign Language Teaching and Research 3 170-178.

  • Dai Qingxia Qiu Yue. 2008. “On the Typological Characteristics of the Serial Verb Constructions in OV Type Tibeto-Burman Languages.” Chinese Teaching in the World2 72-82.

  • Dechaine Rose-Marie. 1988. “Towards a Typology of Serial Constructions in Haitian.” Niger Congo Syntax and Semantics 1 49-64. den Dikken Marcel Sybesma Rint. 1998. Take Serials Light up the Middle. Paper Presented at the 20th GLOW Colloquim Tilburg. de Vega Manuel Robertson David Glenberg Arthur Kaschak Michael Rinck Mike. 2004. “On Doing Two Things at Once: Temporal Constraints on Actions in Language Comprehension.” Memory & Cognition 32(7) 1033-1043.

  • Dixon Robert Malcolm Ward. 1997. The Rise and Fall of Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Dowty David. 1986. “The Effects of Aspectual Class on the Temporal Structure of Discourse: Semantics or Pragmatics?” Linguistics & Philosophy 9 37-61.

  • Emonds Joseph Embley Ostler Rosemarie Whitney. 2005. “Double Object Constructions.” In: Everaert & van Riemsdijk 2005: 73-144.

  • Everaert Martin van Riemsdijk Henk (eds.). 2005. The Blackwell Companion to Syntax. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Ferguson Scott. 1996. “Shortest Move and Object Case Checking.” In: Abraham et al. 1996: 97-111.

  • Gazdar Gerald Pullum Geoffrey Sag Ivan Wasow Thomas. 1982. “Coordination and Transformational Gram­mar.” Linguistic Inquiry 13 663-677.

  • Givón Talmy (ed.). 1979. Syntax and Semantics. Vol. 12. Discourse and Syntax. New York: Academic Press.

  • Givón Talmy. 1992. “The Grammar of Referential Coherence as Mental Processing Instructions.” Linguistics 30 5-55.

  • Goodall Grant. 1987. Parallel Structures in Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Haegeman Liliane (ed.). 1997. Elements of Grammar: Handbook of Generative Syntax. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  • Hale Ken. 1991. “Misumalpan Verb Sequencing Constructions.” In: Lefebvre (ed.) 1991: 1-35.

  • Hankamer Jorge Sag Ivan. 1976. “Deep and Surface Anaphora.” Linguistic Inquiry 7 391-428.

  • He Xiaowei. 2009. “Some Reflections on Generative Studies of the Double Object Construction.” Contemporary Linguistics 3 216-223.

  • Hopper Paul. 1979. “Aspect and Foregrounding in Discourse.” In: Givón 1979: 213-241.

  • Hornstein Norbert Nunes Jairo Grohmann Kleanthes. 2005. Understanding Minimalism. Cambridge: Cam­bridge University Press.

  • Jackendoef Ray. 1977. X-Bar Syntax: A Study of Phrase Structure. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

  • Jackendoef Ray. 1990. Semantic Structures. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

  • Jansen Bert Koopman Hilda Muysken Pieter. 1978. “Serial Verbs in the Creole Languages.” Amsterdam Creole Studies 2 125-159.

  • Joseph Brian Zwicky Arnold (eds.). 1990. When Verbs Collide: Papers from the Ohio State Mini-Conference on Serial Verbs. Ohio State University.

  • Kari Ethelbert. 2003. “Serial Verb Constructions in Degema Nigeria.” African Study Monographs 24(4) 271­289.

  • Kayne Richard. 1994. The Antisymmetry of Syntax. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

  • Kenstowicz Michael (ed.). 2001. Ken Hale: A Life in Language. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

  • Koopman Hilda. 1984. The Syntax of Verbs: From Verb Movement in the Kru Languages to Universal Grammar. Dordrecht: Foris.

  • Koopman Hilda Sportiche Dominique. 1991. “The Position of Subjects.” Lingua 85 211-258.

  • Kratzer Angelika. 1996. “Severing the External Argument from Its Verb.” In: Rooryck & Zaring 1996: 109­137.

  • Kuroda Sige-Yuki. 1988. “Whether We Agree or Not: the Comparative Syntax of English and Japanese.” In: Poser 1988: 315-357.

  • Lappin Shalom Benmamoun Elabbas (eds.). 1999. Fragments: Studies in Ellipsis and Gapping. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Larson Richard. 1988. “On the Double Object Construction.” Linguistic Inquiry 19 335-392.

  • Larson Richard. 1990. “Double Object Revisited: A Reply to Jackendoff.” Linguistic Inquiry 21 589-632.

  • Lefebvre Claire. 1991. “Take Serial Verb Constructions in Fon.” In: Lefebvre (ed.) 1991: 103-136.

  • Lefebvre Claire (ed.). 1991. Serial Verbs: Grammatical Comparative and Cognitive Approaches. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Li Charles Thompson Sandra. 1981. Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Li Yafei. 1990. “On V-V Compounds in Chinese.” Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 8 177-207.

  • Li Yafei. 1991. “On Deriving Serial Verb Constructions.” In: Lefebvre (ed.) 1991: 103-136.

  • Li Yafei. 2007. “On Temporal Iconicity in the Serial Verb Construction.” Linguistic Sciences 6 3-10.

  • Li Yen-hui Audrey. 1985. Abstract Case in Chinese. Ph.D. dissertation University of Southern California Los Angeles CA.

  • Li Yen-hui Audrey. 2005. “Ellipsis and Missing Objects.” Linguistic Sciences 2 3-10.

  • Liu Gang. 1997. Eine unifikations-basierte Grammatik für das moderne Chinesisch - dargestellt in derHPSG. Ph.D. dissertation Universität Konstanz Germany.

  • Lobeck Anne. 1995. Ellipsis: Functional Heads Licensing and Identification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Lobeck Anne. 1999. “VP Ellipsis and the Minimalist Program: Some Speculations and Proposals.” In: Lappin & Benmamoun 1999: 98-123.

  • Lord Carol. 1974. “Causative Constructions in Yoruba.” Studies in African Linguistics 5 195-204.

  • Manfredi Victor (ed.). 1988. Niger-Congo Syntax and Semantics 1. Boston: Boston University African Studies Center.

  • Martin Roger Michaels David Uriagereka Juan (eds.). 2000. Step by Step: Essays on Minimalism in Honor of Howard Lasnik. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

  • Matthews Peter Hugoe. 2000. Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Educa­tion Press.

  • McCloskey Jim. 1997. “Subjecthood and Subject Positions.” In: Haegeman 1997: 197-232.

  • Müller Stefan (ed.). 2009. Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

  • Müller Stefan Lipenkova Janna. 2009. “Serial Verb Constructions in Chinese: An HPSG Account.” In: Müller 2009: 234-254.

  • Munn Alan. 1993. Topics in the Syntax and Semantics of Coordinate Structures. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Maryland at College Park.

  • Muysken Pieter. 1988. “Parameters for Serial Verbs.” In: Manfredi 1988: 65-75.

  • Muysken Pieter Veenstra Tonjes. 1995. “Serial Verbs.” In: Arends et al. 1995: 289-301.

  • Nunes Jairo. 1995. The Copy Theory of Movement and the Linearization of Chains in the Minimalist Program. Ph.D. dissertation University of Maryland College Park.

  • Paul Waltraud. 2005. “The ‘Serial Verb Construction’ in Chinese: A Gordian Knot.” The Linguistic Review 25 367-411.

  • Poser William (ed.). 1988. Papers from the Second International Workshop on Japanese Syntax. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

  • Rooryck Johan Zaring Laurie (eds.). 1996. Phrase Structure and the Lexicon. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  • Ross John Robert. 1967. Constraints on Variables in Syntax. Ph.D. dissertation MIT.

  • Ross John Robert. 1970. “Gapping and the Order of Constituents.” In: Bierwisch & Heidolph 1970: 249-259.

  • Sag Ivan Gerald Gazdar Wasow Thomas Weisler Steven. 1985. “Coordination and How to Distinguish Cat­egories.” Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 3 117-171.

  • Saito Mamoru. 1985. Some Asymmetries in Japanese and Their Theoretical Implications. PhD dissertation MIT.

  • Sauerland Uli Gärtner Hans Martin (eds.). 2007. Interfaces + Recursion = Language?. Berlin-New York: Mounton de Gruyter.

  • Schächter Paul. 1974. “A Non-transformational Account of Serial Verbs.” Studies in African Linguistics Supple­ment 5 153-271.

  • Schiller Eric. 1991. An Autolexical Account of Subordinating Serial Verb Constructions. Ph.D. dissertation University of Chicago.

  • Sebba Mark. 1987. The Syntax of Serial Verbs: An Investigation into Serialisation in Sranan and Other Lan­guages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Sportiche Dominique. 1988. “A Theory of Floating Quantifiers and Its Corollaries for Constituent Structure.” Linguistic Inquiry 19 425-449.

  • Stahlke Herbert. 1970. “Serial Verbs.” Studies in African Linguistics 1 60-99.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.22

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.124
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.828

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 535 170 9
PDF Downloads 150 76 1