Smith and Yu at LEL seminar

Posted on September 27, 2021 by



The first LEL research seminar of the semester will be this week! We will meet on Tuesday, 28/9/2021 at 4pm in Roscoe_2.3, but you can also join via Zoom (you’ll receive the link if you sign up to the mailing list here). The talk will be on Zoom, but there will be a wine reception afterwards in the Linguistics Common Room. All are welcome! The event is co-hosted by the Semantics Lab.

The abstract is below.

Decomposing degree achievement verbs 
Ryan Walter Smith and Jianrong Yu  

There has been renewed interest in deadjectival verbs in recent years as it has been observed that grammatical properties like telicity are directly predictable based on the scalar structure of their underlying adjectives (e.g. Kennedy 2007; Kennedy & Levin 2008; Pedersen 2015). These observations have motivated scalar approaches based on degree semantics, in contrast with event decompositional approaches which proposed that deadjectival verbs comprise a stative core with eventive semantics introduced by other semantic operators or functional heads (e.g. Dowty 1979; von Stechow 1996). We motivate an event decompositional approach here, drawing on a classic piece of evidence for decompositional approaches: the repetitive-restitutive ambiguity with the presupposition trigger ‘again’ in English. Specifically, we show that a range of modifiers, including from-phrases and to-phrases which specify the degree of a property held by an object at the start and end of an event, interact with ‘again’ to produce stative presuppositions. Furthermore, durative for-phrase also straightforwardly show the existence of a stative core even in deadjectival verbs built out of relative adjectives. We propose a compositional syntax-semantics in order to capture the range of restitutive presuppositions that these modifiers produce. In contrast, we demonstrate that scalar approaches, where these verbs are built out of underlying measure functions, face difficulties in capturing the existence of restitutive presuppositions with such modifiers and make the wrong predictions in regards to the way these modifiers interact with the presupposition of ‘again’. 

Posted in: LEL events, semantics