Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-8lphq Total loading time: 0.317 Render date: 2022-07-05T07:46:20.107Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

2 - Verbs as licensers of subjects

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 January 2010

Mark C. Baker
Affiliation:
Rutgers University, New Jersey
Get access

Summary

Introduction

What is the essential property that makes verbs behave differently from nouns and adjectives in morphology and syntax? This question is perhaps the easiest place to begin, because there is an obvious starting-point in the widespread recognition that verbs are the quintessential predicates. They are inherently unsaturated expressions that hold of something else, and thus the nucleus around which sentences are typically built. Many linguists of different schools have recognized the significance of this. Among the formalists, Jackendoff (1977) partially defines verbs with the feature “+subject” (although this does not distinguish them from nouns, in his view). Among the functionalists, Croft (1991) identifies predication as the pragmatic function that provides the external motivation for the category verb. I argue for the precise version of this intuition stated in (1).

  1. (1) X is a verb if and only if X is a lexical category and X has a specifier.

The discussion will unfold as follows. I begin by explaining why (1) is a plausible way of distinguishing verbs from other categories, and why it is more promising than some of the obvious alternatives (section 2.2). Next I explore (1)'s implication that predicate nouns and adjectives, unlike verbs, must be supported by a functional head I call Pred in order for the clause to have a subject (section 2.3), showing that this functional head is seen overtly in some languages (section 2.4). Even in languages where Pred is not realized phonologically – perhaps the majority – its presence can be detected by morphological tests; Pred frequently prevents categories other than verbs from combining with tense/aspect morphology (section 2.5) or causative morphemes (section 2.6), for example.

Type
Chapter
Information
Lexical Categories
Verbs, Nouns and Adjectives
, pp. 23 - 94
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×