Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 135–182

Arguments for pseudo-resultative predicates


DOI: 10.1007/s11049-010-9089-x

Cite this article as:
Levinson, L. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2010) 28: 135. doi:10.1007/s11049-010-9089-x


This paper addresses the compositionality puzzle presented by a class of ‘pseudo-resultative’ predicates, such as tight in the sentence She braided her hair tight. The analysis proposed reveals that the modification involved also provides insight into the nature of the lexical roots of verbs and their role in compositional semantics. Pseudo-resultative predicates superficially resemble resultative secondary predicates and resultative adverbs. However, it is shown that they do not modify any ‘word’ in the syntax. Rather, these predicates modify the root of the verb in a configuration which is licensed by the semantic type of the root and the structure of root creation verbs. The modification of such roots provides evidence that they are syntactically active, as proposed in the framework of Distributed Morphology (Halle and Marantz 1993; Marantz 1997; Arad 2003). It is shown that the roots are syntactically well-behaved and can be modified just like other ‘larger’ constituents. Syntactic parallels between the root creation verbs which license pseudo-resultative predicates and other structures further provide evidence for a syntactic decomposition of these verbs whereby the object is related to the root in a prepositional structure in a manner reminiscent of proposals for other classes of verbs in Hale and Keyser (1993, 2002).


Pseudo-resultativesRootsSecondary predicationLexical semanticsDistributed Morphology

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsOakland UniversityRochesterUSA