Change of State Verbs: Implications for Theories of Argument Projection

Malka Rappaport Hovav, Beth Levin


Recent work in argument expression has focused on verbs showing multiple argument projection options, often with concomitant shifts in aspectual classification or assignment of so-called "aspectual roles" (e.g., measure or incremental theme). Theories of argument projection generally adopt one or both of the following hypotheses: (1) argument projection is aspectually determined; (2) argument expression is not lexically determined. Although much recent work incorporates the conjunction of the two hypotheses, they represent two distinct issues: whether argument expression is aspectually driven and whether argument expression is lexically or syntactically determined. It is possible to argue that argument projection is lexically determined and aspectually driven (e.g., Tenny 1987, 1992, 1994) or to argue that projection is not completely lexically determined but not completely aspectually driven either (e.g., Jackenoff 1990). We argue against each individual hypothesis, as well as against their conjunction. We do this through a close examination of the argument expression properties of change of state verbs and a comparison of these properties with those of aspectually-related verbs.

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