Construction Grammar Discussion Group: March 27

A Constructional Analysis of Quasi-Incorporation in Dutch

Geert Booij (University of Leiden)

Date and time: March 27, 15.30-17.00
Location: Utrecht University (precise location will be added)

Reading: If you would like to read the article we will be discussing, please send an e-mail to Elena Tribushinina.

 

Abstract: This paper deals with quasi-incorporation, the phenomenon that bare nouns form tight phrasal lexical units with verbs. The data are mainly from Dutch. The semantics of quasi-incorporation is similar to that of real noun-incorporation: the bare noun receives a generic interpretation, and the NV combination denotes a conventional activity. However, the lexical units are phrasal since they are separable in root clauses, and in verb raising clusters. It is shown that such Dutch bare Noun + V combinations (either singular or plural nouns) have two structural interpretations. They are either VPs with an NP that consist of the bare noun only, or they are units of the form [N0 V0]V0, and thus a case of adjunction of the bare noun to the verb. The behaviour of these NV combinations under verb raising, in the Dutch periphrastic progressive construction, and with respect to the choice of the correct negative word (geen or niet) is shown to follow from the assumption of two possible structural analyses. Thus, Dutch quasi-incorporation is parallel to the analysis of similar cases of incorporation in Japanese, presented in Iida and Sells (2007). If the bare noun has no argumental role with respect to the verb, it is only the second structural option that is available, that of adjunction.

Quasi-incorporation can be seen as a construction, in which a specific syntactic pattern receives a specific semantic interpretation, that of conventional activity. Thus, the paper argues that the notion ‘construction’ is essential for giving a proper account of the semantics of quasi-noun incorporation.

 

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