Interpreting verb clusters
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- Keine, S. & Bhatt, R. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2016) 34: 1445. doi:10.1007/s11049-015-9326-4
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We argue for syntactic verb cluster formation in certain restructuring configurations, the result of which is interpreted via function composition. This cluster formation can be diagnosed by its semantic consequences. In particular, we observe that in these configurations all embedded elements must receive a matrix interpretation even if there is no evidence that these elements leave the embedded VP at any stage of the derivation. We show that verb cluster formation and function composition provide a solution to this puzzle. We propose that the process of cluster formation takes place whenever two lexical verbs are part of the same phasal Spell-Out domain, which we relate to Richards’ (2010) distinctness proposal. Our analysis entails that (i) some instances of head movement have semantic effects and hence cannot take place at PF; (ii) the set of rules of semantic composition must include function composition; and (iii) it provides additional support for the notion of distinctness and extends its application to head movement.