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Auteur: Isabella PEDERNEIRA

Learning about the syntax-semantics interface

Abstract/Résumé: According to the projectionist hypothesis, each verb in a given language possesses a set of thematic roles to be attributed to its arguments in specified syntactic positions. These syntactic positions are created by each verb according to the thematic roles that have to be discharged on its arguments in order to produce the desired meaning. When lexical insertion happens the role for each syntactic argument is discharged as predicted by the internal semantic potentialities of the verb in the context of insertion. Constructionist hypotheses (BORER, 2005a,b) invert the direction of the operation: the root by itself consists merely of a phonological form which, depending on the construction into which it is inserted, becomes a verb and a particular meaning emerges. An essential component is the syntactic functor that turns a pure root into a verb. In this work we are comparing patterns and meanings in light verbs in Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese and Italian. This comparison will give a useful set of data to to advance in the understanding of the difference between what comes from the first syntactic association of root and pattern, a necessarily arbitrary meaning, and what modifies it. The basic grounding idea that guides our working method is a small number of syntactic patterns relevant for basic types of pairing between structural and encyclopedic meaning. What we are going to show is a classification of each verb’s meanings in each language by decomposing it in terms of the hypothetical underlying syntactic patterns. We will present a sample of our analyses, consisting of light verbs like: run, kill, call, take, get, give etc in these three languages. The modularity of constructionist theory predicts the independence between syntactic patterns and vocabulary pieces. The predictable situation is that roots inherently poor in meaning can fit in any possible syntactic pattern, and get a skeletal meaning from the pattern and an additional cognitive content, negotiated at each syntactic phase with a dose of not well understood renewed arbitrariness. References BORER, H. 2005a. In Name Only. Structuring Sense, Volume I. Oxford: Oxford University Press. BORER, H. 2005b. The Normal Course of Events. Structuring Sense, Volume II. Oxford: Oxford University Press. BUTT, M. 2010. The light verb jungle: still hacking away. In Complex predicates: Cross-linguistic perspectives on event structure, eds. Mengistu Amberber, Brett Baker & Mark Harvey, 48-78. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. GRIMSHAW, J and MESTER, A. 1988. Light Verbs and θ-Marking, Linguistics Inquiry 19.2: 205-232.