Repetitive presuppositions with again: Un-severing the external argument

Josep Ausensi, Jianrong Yu, Ryan Walter Smith


Since Marantz (1984) and Kratzer (1996), it has been widely accepted in the literature on argument structure that agents are introduced as external arguments via a functional head VOICE through secondary predication, using semantic composition rules like EVENT IDENTIFICATION. The widely cited evidence for such a position is the fact that while internal arguments can condition special semantic interpretations of the surface verb, agents never do. In this paper, we present evidence against such a view, arguing that a well-defined class of verbs can impose intentionality entailments and also require representation of the agent argument internally within their lexical semantics. The crucial empirical evidence we utilize is modification by again, specifically the range of available repetitive presuppositions it can introduce. We show that again behaves differently with respect to how its repetitive presupposition can be satisfied by verbal roots whose agent argument is introduced externally versus verbal roots that must entail intentionality and representation of its agent argument. Together with widely accepted assumptions about the syntax and semantics of again-modification, we argue that not all external arguments can be severed from the verbal root.


lexical semantics; external arguments; repetitive presuppositions; verbal roots

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2020 Josep Ausensi, Jianrong Yu, Ryan Walter Smith

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Donate to the Open-Access Fund of the LSA

Linguistic Society of America

Advancing the Scientific Study of Language since 1924

ISSN (online): 2473-8689

This publication is made available for free to readers and with no charge to authors thanks in part to your continuing LSA membership and your donations to the open access fund.