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Auteur: Rahul BALUSU

Transitivizing light verbs in Telugu

Abstract/Résumé: This paper examines in detail the variety of complex predicates in Telugu revealing the syntactic process of their composition and the constraints on their formation. The framework used is First Phase Syntax (Ramchand 2008). It also examines the kind of meanings that are uniformly present in constructions involving a certain variety of light verbs in Telugu - transitivizer light verbs. The meanings which are inalienably constant, in both the verbal complex predicates and the nominal complex predicates that these light verbs form, are the inceptual meanings- which emphasize inception or beginning, continuation or progression, and completion or end-point. I propose that these meanings can be directly linked, and are further evidence for the structural decomposition of the verbal domain into 3 subparts or projections (First Phase Syntax, Ramchand 2008) - initP (that introduces causation), procP (that specifies the process), and resP (that gives the result state). The semantics of this structure is what I claim gives rise to the inceptual meanings. Ramchand (2008) proposes the Light Verb Constraint: A verb can be used as a light verb only when all of its category features Agree with some other verbal element in its complement domain. This constraint is at best a stipulation in the system. The Telugu data examined shows that the stipulation is unnecessary and the possible combination that the compositional system allows is actually attested. In Telugu, light verbs also function as transitivizers. According to the light verb constraint, the transitivizer light verbs should not compose with unaccusative main verbs, which do not have an [init] feature to license the [init] feature of the transitivizer light verbs. But they do. What we see here are instances of direct lexicalization of the Spec of InitP, thus licensing the [init] feature of the light verbs. When the transitivizer light verbs compose with nominal elements to form nominal complex predicates, they again bring their inceptual meanings into the formations. The causative suffix in Telugu is –inc. An unaccusative verb can be transitivized using either the causative suffix or a transitivizer light verb. The two combinations however differ in their semantics. The transitivizer light verb brings its inceptual meaning along with it. The causative and the transitivizer morphemes can co-occur, but the causative cannot co-occur with the unaccusative (-less) light verb. This is because the [init] feature of –inc cannot underassociate with the -less light verb, whereas it can underassociate with light verbs, as predicted by the constraints on underassociation. The rest of the paper examines the effect of complex predicate formation on the argument structure of the complex predicate, in both verbal and nominal complex predicates.