Directed motion entailments in the semantics of roots: A root-sensitive approach

  • Josep Ausensi
  • Ryan Smith
  • Jianrong Yu

Abstract

Syntactic, decompositional theories of verb meaning hold that verbs are created in the syntax by merging roots, which provide idiosyncratic information, with functional heads, which introduce structural components of meaning such as change or causation. In this paper, we examine the consequences of such a view for verbs of inherently directed motion like arrive, enter, ascend, descend, depart, leave, etc. (Levin, 1993; Rappaport Hovav, 2014). We show that this class of verbs does not show uniform behavior with respect to sub-lexical modification with modifiers like again and durative temporal modifiers, which are well-established diagnostics for decompositional theories of verb meaning (e.g., Dowty, 1979; von Stechow, 1996; Beck and Johnson, 2004). This suggests that a syntactic, decompositional view may be appropriate only for some of these verbs, while others must contain all directed motion entailments within their verb roots. We argue that a root-sensitive approach to lexical decomposition of this verb class is necessary in order to account for their distinct grammatical properties.
Published
2021-09-16
How to Cite
Ausensi, J., Smith, R., & Yu, J. (2021). Directed motion entailments in the semantics of roots: A root-sensitive approach. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 25, 112-129. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2021.v25i0.927