Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 135–182 | Cite as

Arguments for pseudo-resultative predicates



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-resultatives Roots Secondary predication Lexical semantics Distributed Morphology 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ameka, Felix K. 1995. The linguistic construction of space in Ewe. Cognitive Linguistics 6: 139–181. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arad, Maya. 2003. Locality constraints on the interpretation of roots: the case of Hebrew denominal verbs. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 21: 737–778. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bittner, Maria. 1999. Concealed causatives. Natural Language Semantics 7: 1–78. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carrier, Jill, and Janet H. Randall. 1992. The argument structure and syntactic structure of resultatives. Linguistic Inquiry 23: 173–234. Google Scholar
  5. Chomsky, Noam. 1995. The minimalist program. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  6. Chomsky, Noam. 2000. Minimalist inquiries: the framework. In Step by step: essays on minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik, eds. Martin Roger, David Michaels, and Juan Uriagereka, 89–156. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  7. Chomsky, Noam. 2001. Beyond explanatory adequacy. In MIT occasional papers in linguistics, Vol. 20. Cambridge: MIT, Working Papers in Linguistics. Google Scholar
  8. Clark, Eve V., and Herbert H. Clark. 1979. When nouns surface as verbs. Language 55: 767–811. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davidson, Donald. 1967. The logical form of action sentences. In The logic of decision and action, ed. Nicholas Rescher. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Google Scholar
  10. Dowty, David. 1979. Word meaning and Montague Grammar: the semantics of verbs and times in generative semantics. Dordrecht: Reidel. Google Scholar
  11. Fong, Vivienne. 2001. ‘Into doing something’: where is the path in event predicates? Paper presented at the ESSLLI 2000 workshop on paths and telicity in event structure, University of Birmingham, 7–11 August, 2000. Google Scholar
  12. Geuder, Wilhelm. 2000. Oriented adverbs: issues in the lexical semantics of event adverbs. Doctoral Dissertation, Universität Tübingen. Google Scholar
  13. Grimshaw, Jane. 2005 [1993]. Semantic structure and semantic content in lexical representation. In Words and structure. Stanford: CSLI Publications. Google Scholar
  14. Hale, Kenneth, and Samuel Jay Keyser. 1993. On argument structure and the lexical expression of syntactic relations. In The view from building 20: essays in honor of Sylvain Bromberger, eds. Kenneth Hale and Samuel Jay Keyser, 53–110. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  15. Hale, Kenneth, and Samuel Jay Keyser. 2002. Prolegomenon to a theory of argument structure. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  16. Halle, Morris, and Alec Marantz. 1993. Distributed morphology and the pieces of inflection. In The view from building 20: essays in honor of Sylvain Bromberger, eds. Kenneth Hale and Samuel Jay Keyser, 111–176. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  17. Harley, Heidi. 2002. Possession and the double object construction. In Vol. 2 of Yearbook of linguistic variation, eds. Pierre Pica and Johan Rooryck. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Google Scholar
  18. Harley, Heidi. 2005. How do verbs get their names? Denominal verbs, manner incorporation, and the ontology of verb roots in English. In The syntax of aspect, eds. Nomi Erteschik-Shir and Tova Rapoport. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  19. Hoekstra, Teun. 1988. Small clause results. Lingua 74: 101–139. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Horrocks, Geoffrey, and Melita Stavrou. 2003. Actions and their results in Greek and English: the complementarity of morphologically encoded (viewpoint) aspect and syntactic resultative predication. Journal of Semantics 20: 297–327. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jackendoff, Ray. 1990. Semantic structures. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  22. Karlsson, Fred. 1999. Finnish: an essential grammar. London: Routledge. Google Scholar
  23. Kayne, Richard S. 1985. Principles of particle constructions. In Grammatical representation, eds. Jacqueline Guéron, Hans-Georg Obenauer, and Jean-Yves Pollock, 101–140. Dordrecht: Foris. Google Scholar
  24. Kester, Ellen-Petra. 1996. The nature of adjectival inflection. Doctoral Dissertation, Utrecht University. Google Scholar
  25. Kiparsky, Paul. 1997. Remarks on denominal verbs. In Argument structure, eds. Alex Alsina, Joan Bresnan, and Peter Sells, Stanford: CSLI. Google Scholar
  26. Kracht, Marcus. 2002. On the semantics of locatives. Linguistics & Philosophy 25: 157–232. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kratzer, Angelika. 1996. Severing the external argument from its verb. In Phrase structure and the lexicon, eds. Johan Rooryck and Laurie Zaring, 109–137. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Google Scholar
  28. Kratzer, Angelika. 2005. Building resultatives. In Event arguments in syntax, semantics, and discourse, eds. Claudia Maienborn and Angelika Wöllenstein-Leisten, 177–212. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Google Scholar
  29. Levin, Beth. 1993. English verb classes and alternations: a preliminary investigation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar
  30. Levin, Beth, and Malka Rappaport-Hovav. 1995. Unaccusativity: at the syntax-lexical semantics interface. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  31. Levinson, Lisa. 2007. The roots of verbs. Doctoral Dissertation, New York University. Google Scholar
  32. Marantz, Alec. 1997. No escape from syntax: don’t try morphological analysis in the privacy of your own lexicon. In Proceedings of the 21st annual Penn linguistics colloquium, eds. Alexis Dimitriadis, Laura Siegel, Clarissa Surek-Clark, and Alexander Williams, 201–225. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Working Papers in Linguistics. Google Scholar
  33. Marantz, Alec. 2005. Objects out of the lexicon! Argument-structure in the syntax. Handout, University of Connecticut Linguistics Colloquium, April 2005. Google Scholar
  34. Mateu, Jaume. 2000. Why can’t we wipe the slate clean? A lexical-syntactic approach to resultative constructions. Catalan Working Papers in Linguistics 8: 71–95. Google Scholar
  35. Napoli, Donna J.. 1992. Secondary resultative predicates in Italian. Journal of Linguistics 28: 53–90. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nunberg, Geoffrey. 1995. Transfers of meaning. Journal of Semantics 12: 109–132. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Parsons, Terence. 1990. Events in the semantics of English. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  38. Pesetsky, David. 1995. Zero syntax: experiencers and cascades. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  39. Pinker, Stephen. 1989. Learnability and cognition: the acquisition of argument structure. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  40. Pylkkänen, Liina. 2002. Introducing arguments. Doctoral Dissertation, MIT. Google Scholar
  41. Rappaport Hovav, Malka, and Beth Levin. 1998. Building verb meaning. In The projection of arguments: lexical and compositional factors, eds. Miriam Butt and Wilhelm Geuder, 97–134. Stanford: CSLI. Google Scholar
  42. Sadler, Louisa, and Douglas J. Arnold. 1994. Prenominal adjectives and the phrasal/lexical distinction. Journal of Linguistics 30: 187–226. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Simpson, Jane. 1983. Resultatives. In Papers in lexical-functional grammar, eds. Lori Levin, Malka Rappaport, and Annie Zaenen, 143–158. Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistics Club. Google Scholar
  44. Talmy, Leonard. 1991. Paths to realization: a typology of event integration. In Vol. 91 of Buffalo working papers in linguistics, 147–187. Buffalo: SUNY Buffalo Linguistics. Google Scholar
  45. Tenny, Carol. 2000. Core events and adverbial modification. In Events as grammatical objects: the converging perspectives of lexical semantics and syntax, eds. Carol Tenny and James Pustejovsky. Stanford: Center for the Study of Language and Information. Google Scholar
  46. Washio, Ryuichi. 1997. Resultatives, compositionality and language variation. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 6: 1–49. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wechsler, Stephen. 2005. Resultatives under the event-argument homomorphism model of telicity. In The syntax of aspect, eds. Nomi Erteschik-Shir and Tova Rapoport. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  48. Wheeler, Max W., Alan Yates, and Nicholas Dols. 1999. Catalan: a comprehensive grammar. London/New York: Routledge. Google Scholar
  49. Zhang, Niina Ning. 2002. Movement within a spatial phrase. In Perspectives on prepositions, eds. Hubert Cuyckens and Günter Radden, 47–63. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

Personalised recommendations