LINGUIST List 12.2710

Tue Oct 30 2001

Books: Syntax/Semantics/Construction Grammar

Editor for this issue: Richard John Harvey <>

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  1. Christine Sosa, Syntax/Semantics/Construction Grammar: Beyond Alternations

Message 1: Syntax/Semantics/Construction Grammar: Beyond Alternations

Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 08:52:47 -0800
From: Christine Sosa <>
Subject: Syntax/Semantics/Construction Grammar: Beyond Alternations

CSLI Publications is pleased to announce the availability of:

Laura A. Michaelis (University of Colorado at Boulder) and 
Josef Ruppenhofer (University of California, Berkeley and 
International Computer Science Institute);
paper ISBN: 1-57586-330-8, $22.50,
cloth ISBN: 1-57586-329-4, $63.00,
149 pages.
CSLI Publications 2001. ,

To order this book, contact The University of Chicago Press. Call
their toll free order number 1-800-621-2736 (U.S. & Canada only) or
order online at (use the search feature
to locate the book, then order).

Book description:

Alternations play a central role in most current theories of verbal
argument structure, which are devised primarily to model the syntactic
flexibility of verbs. Accordingly, these frameworks take verbs, and
their projection properties, to be the sole contributors of thematic
content to the clause. Approached from this perspective, the German
applicative (or be-prefix) construction has puzzling
properties. First, while many applicative verbs have transparent base
forms, many, including those coined from nouns, do not. Second,
applicative verbs are bound by interpretive and argument-realization
conditions which cannot be traced to their base forms, if any. These
facts suggest that applicative formation is not appropriately modeled
as a lexical rule. Using corpus data from a diverse array of genres,
Michaelis and Ruppenhofer propose a unified solution to these two
puzzles within the frame-work of Construction Grammar. Central to this
account is the concept of valence augmentation: argument-structure
constructions denote event types, and therefore license valence sets
which may properly include those of their lexical fillers. As per
Panini's Law, resolution of valence mismatch favors the construction
over the verb. Like verbs of transfer and lo-cation, the applicative
construction has a prototype-based event-structure representation:
diverse implications of applicative predications - including
iteration, transfer, affectedness, intensity and saturation - are
shown to derive via regular patterns of semantic extension from the
topological concept of coverage.
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Monday, July 23, 2001