Revisiting the elasticity of verb meaning and the way-construction in English


  • Josep Ausensi



Rappaport Hovav and Levin (2010) argue that result verbs (e.g. break) are more restricted than manner verbs (e.g. wipe) with regard to argument realization, since result verbs do not permit object deletion (e.g. *John broke) or nonselected objects (e.g. *John broke his fingers bloody). In the present paper, I argue that result verbs can permit nonselected objects, i.e. I show that they are found in the way-construction when the result state they encode is predicated of a patient that despite not being overtly realized is semantically implicit. In a similar vein, Marantz (1992), Levin (1993) and Levin and Rappaport Hovav (1995) argue that unaccusative verbs are never found in the way-construction, as only unergative verbs are permitted. However, as Kuno and Takami (2004) note, there are some unaccusative verbs (e.g. roll) that can appear in this construction. In this respect, I argue that unaccusative verbs permit the way-construction when they do not encode result states. Consequently, I contend that unaccusativity is not the constraint imposed by the way-construction on the verb classes permitted, contra previously assumed. In short, I argue that both result and unaccusative verbs appear to be more elastic with regard to argument realization than previously claimed.




How to Cite

Ausensi, J. (2019). Revisiting the elasticity of verb meaning and the way-construction in English. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 23(1), 75–92.