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Cognitive Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Newman, John

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Morpholexical Transparency and the argument structure of verbs of cutting and breaking

*Author's contact information: Department of Linguistics, University at Buffalo—SUNY, 609 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics. Volume 18, Issue 2, Pages 153–177, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: 10.1515/COG.2007.006, September 2007

Publication History

Published Online:


Guerssel et al.'s (1985) generalizations regarding the argument structure of verbs of cutting and breaking (C&B, hereafter) are reanalyzed based on the principles of Morpholexical Transparency and Complete Linking. A working hypothesis according to which the C&B domain is universally exhaustively partitioned into argument structure classes of C&B verbs is proposed and tested against a corpus of data from 17 languages. Counterevidence to the hypothesis includes bipolar verbs that are semantically specific both on the state change and its cause and a language that lacks cut verbs, framing severance as state change. The survey suggests that universals of argument structure include the principles of Morpholexical Transparency and Complete Linking, but not specific verb classes.

Keywords: cut and break; separation events; argument structure; verb semantics; lexicon-syntax interface; typology

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