Mental states via possessive predication: The grammar of possessive experiencer complex predicates in Persian
Ryan Walter Smith
April 2024

Persian possesses a number of stative complex predicates with dâshtan ‘to have’ that express certain kinds of mental state. I propose that these possessive experiencer complex predicates be given a formal semantic treatment involving possession of a portion of an abstract quality by an individual, as in the analysis of property concept lexemes due to Francez & Koontz-Garboden (2015; 2016; 2017). Augmented with an analysis of prepositional phrases introducing the target of the mental state and an approach to gradability in terms of measure functions (Wellwood, 2014), the analysis explains various properties of possessive experiencer complex predicates, including the behavior of target phrases, the ability of the non-verbal element to be modified by a range of adjectives, the direct participation of the non-verbal element in comparative constructions, and the ability of degree expressions to modify both the non-verbal element and the VP containing the complex predicate. Theoretically, the analysis ties transitive mental state expressions to the grammar and semantics of property concept sentences, which are expressed via possessive morphosyntax cross-linguistically, and connects with syntactic proposals that independently argue for a universal underlyingly possessive morphosyntax for mental state predicates (Noonan 1992; Hale & Keyser 2002). The work here also motivates modifications to Francez and Koontz-Garboden’s original proposal, and opens new questions in the original empirical domain of the analysis of possessive predicating strategies for the expression of property concept sentences.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007367
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Natural Language Semantics (
keywords: property concepts, possession, mental states, persian, complex predicates, semantics
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