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Interpretability, aspectual coercion, and event structure in Object-Experiencer verbs: An acceptability study

From the book The Syntax of Argument Structure

  • Jeannique Darby , Artemis Alexiadou , Giorgos Spathas and Michael Walsh


In this paper, we discuss an experimental, processing-based approach to English Object-Experiencer verbs. We argue that any investigation of the event structure properties of these verbs must crucially take into account not only considerations on the level of the verb, but also the influence of processes which take place when a verb is interpreted in context. We pay particular attention to the role of aspectual coercion, and its interaction with processing in judgments of acceptability. Our results support an analysis of Object-Experiencer verbs as comprising two sub-classes which differ in their event structure: one consisting of verbs which readily allow eventive and/or agentive readings, and the other containing essentially stative verbs, which may be more or less coerced into such readings. However, this latter group of states also behave differently from stative Subject-Experiencer verbs, in line with the causative nature of the former

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