The syntax of lexical decomposition of predicates: ways of encoding events and multidimensional meanings

Kim, Lan
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University of Delaware
The expression of possessive, benefactive, and adversative meanings is a central part of languages that is generally and universally relevant to the description of languages. The usual means for expressing these meanings in Korean, Japanese, and Thai, the three languages under consideration, is with a verbal morpheme. The primary goal of this dissertation is to examine the different argument structures that encode these meanings, namely ditransitive constructions, benefactive constructions, and adversity (passive) constructions, and provide additional empirical support for the syntactic approach to predicate decomposition using event semantics. I shall propose that each construction can be decomposed into different syntactic verbal heads, each of which contributes a subpart of the meaning of the sentences, an analysis from which the syntactic and the semantic properties follow quite straightforwardly. I shall also show that not all of the meanings that are discussed in this dissertation behave uniformly, such that some elements of meaning are projected as not-at-issue meaning, like an implicature or a presupposition in multidimensional semantics. The thesis shows that the observed syntactic and semantic properties converge neatly with the theory of syntactic decomposition using event semantics, and certain linguistic phenomena such as ditransitives, benefactives, and adversity (passive) constructions can only be explained by making explicit the complex event structure of a verbal predicate at the level of syntax.