Intentionality, scalar change, and non-culmination in Korean caused change-of-state predicates

John Beavers
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  • Department of Linguistics, The University of Texas at Austin, 305 E. 23rd Street, Mail Code B5100, Austin, TX 78712, USA
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and Juwon Lee
  • Department of English Education, Jeonju University, 303, Cheonjam-ro, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do 55069, Republic of Korea
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This paper investigates the interpretations of caused change-of-state predicates in Korean, and in particular non-culmination readings in which the result state inherent to the meaning of the predicate fails to obtain either fully (zero result) or partially. We argue that zero result readings require that the subject intended the coming about of the result state, while readings in which some result obtains (partially or completely) lack this entailment. Yet zero result interpretations are not reducible to ‘try’-constructions since the former but not the latter require the direct causation. Furthermore, zero result readings arise only in active voice, a grammatical constraint not explicitly discussed for other languages. We argue that the full suite of possible readings arises from two factors: a sublexical modality over worlds conforming to the agent’s intentions for zero result readings that arises from a special active voice inflection in Korean and a scalar semantics for change-of-state verbs that derives partial result readings as a type of degree achievement interpretation. An interaction of these two factors produce the range of possible readings for Korean change-of-state predicates. Finally, we discuss our account in relation to the Agent Control Hypothesis of Demirdache and Martin (2015) that agentivity properties of the subject are necessary for certain non-culmination readings, and suggest that Korean exemplifies the ACH provided that what counts as “control” includes intentionality.

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