Topic: HUMAN SEMANTICS
By James Higginbotham
This article is a synopsis or digest of my thoughts over a number of years, which for whatever reason took some time to reach even the shape that they are in now. I repeat some arguments, going back to class presentations at MIT in 1990, that accomplishments are syntactically represented by ordered pairs of positions for event, and that the "accomplishment" interpretation of a predicate may stem from the complex thematic structure <E,E'> of a Preposition, a syntactic adjunct, rather than from the head. The structures <E,E'> are telic pairs; and I hold that the formation of telic pairs is a compositional, rather than a lexical, process. This thesis is applied to a number of constructions, yielding, if I am right, the basis for family of distinctions between English- (or Chinese-) type languages, on the one hand, and Romance (or Korean or Japanese) on the other. The conceptions in this first part of what follows are then applied to the location and locatum V of Ken Hale and Jay Keyser. I suggest an alternative derivation of these V, at least in English, and while acknowledging the cogency of the comments of Paul Kiparsky I defend a version of their syntactic theory against his objections. In particular, I argue that certain semantic properties of the location and locatum V are not a matter of primitive stipulation, in the lexicon or elsewhere, but rather follow from the nature of the construction, together with a certain notion of normativity, explained below. The chief novelty, however, in what follows is a systematic response to standard arguments against lexical decomposition, arguments that must be answered if contemporary morphosyntax corresponds in any but an impressionistic way to what might be called morphosemantics. My defense turns upon demoting the notion of causation; that is, upon seeing it as a consequence, rather than the driving force, behind accomplishment predicates.
Source: Online Papers in Philosophy