Louise McNally at the SynSemLab

Posted on November 15, 2021 by

The next SynSemLab will host a special guest, Louise McNally from the Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona, joining in person. The speaker will give a talk on “Grammatically relevant aspects of meaning and verbal polysemy” (abstract below). The meeting will be on Wednesday, 17 November at 11am Manchester time. All are welcome to attend in Sam Alex_A116, or alternatively on Zoom. You can get the Zoom link and meeting passcode by emailing Jens Hopperdietzel.


Grammatically relevant aspects of meaning and verbal polysemy

Louise McNally

The debate over the relation between grammatically relevant (specifically, what we term event referential) and idiosyncratic aspects of verb meaning has produced a considerable literature. Some authors, such as Levin and Rappaport Hovav, have appealed to figurative uses of verbs as a source of data when the analysis of their literal uses has controversial, a move that has sometimes been criticized. However, question of whether figurative uses of verbs preserve the event referential properties of their literal counterparts and are therefore a valid source of data has not, to our knowledge, been systematically explored. We offer two detailed cross-linguistic case studies of Spanish and English verbs to provide an argument that figurative verb uses indeed are a reliable source of evidence for identifying event referential components of meaning: In each case study we find clear for the preservation of these components across uses, indicating that these aspects of meaning both constrain and facilitate figurative uses of verbs.