Grammatically relevant aspects of meaning and verbal polysemy
Louise McNally, Alexandra Spalek
September 2021

The debate over the relation between grammatically relevant (specifically, what we term event referential) and idiosyncratic aspects of verb meaning has produced a considerable literature. Some authors, such as Levin and Rappaport Hovav, have appealed to figurative uses of verbs as a source of data when the analysis of their literal uses has been controversial, a move that has sometimes been criticized. However, the question of whether figurative uses of verbs preserve the event referential properties of their literal counterparts and are therefore a valid source of data has not, to our knowledge, been systematically explored. We offer two detailed cross-linguistic case studies of Spanish and English verbs to provide an argument that figurative verb uses indeed are a reliable source of evidence for identifying event referential components of meaning: In each case study we find clear evidence for the preservation of these components across uses, indicating that these aspects of meaning both constrain and facilitate figurative uses of verbs.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006246
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Linguistics
keywords: event structure, verb, lexical aspect, polysemy, figurative meaning, semantics, syntax
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