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''On the bridge between life and death''. Resultatives in English and German, with reference to ''Poison Verbs + to death'' combinations - a constructional/cognitive account

The main purpose of this paper was to investigate resultatives at large under a constructional perspective and to furnish a brief account of a peculiar class of resultative predications (poison verbs with the PP to death) by integrating this viewpoint with some notions and principles stemming from Cognitive Linguistics.
The first chapter is concerned with a survey of the two principal constructional theories upon resultatives. We investigated Goldberg’s account, which takes the notion of independently existing meaningful constructions as crucial for the licensing of resultatives. On this view both caused motion and resultative constructions are able to enrich original verbal semantics by providing a verb with new arguments such as a resultative phrase and a postverbal NP, thus avoiding positing new and, to her advice, implausible verb senses. [...]
Having dealt with the most controversial points of Goldberg’s account, we move to discuss Boas’ approach, which presents interesting variations despite maintaining a constructional basis. By making an attentive survey of English linguistic data stemming from BNC, Boas shows that each verbal entry seems to have its own lexical specifications which cause it to constitute a sort of mini-construction: such structures are able to combine internal lexical information (on-stage) with external, contextual information (off-stage), described in terms of spatial/temporal relations and world knowledge. The result of this combination is what Boas call an “event frame”, able to provide the information needed to perspectivize a resultative outcome: on this ground, such collocations are concretely used in order to convey a more or less conventional perspective of an event. [...]
Moving from this consideration and proposing a compromise which investigate the data offered by Boas in the light of cognitive approaches in order to get some generalized conclusions, we turn to investigate the combinations between the PP to death and the so-called poison verbs, defined and classified by Levin (1993), then widened by Faber and Mairal (1999).
Through the help of other accounts dealing with resultatives both in syntactic and lexical/cognitive terms (Morita and Peña), we firstly make a general survey of all to death occurrences in Boas’ table, observing that such huge variety of combinations is made possible because the use of a prepositional resultative like to death implies by itself a processuality and, unlike adjectival resultatives, does not necessitate to combine semantically with the main verb. Among all verbs involved we concentrate on those belonging to the class of poison verbs.
We show a more exhaustive description of this items can be achieved through the application of Conceptual Metonymy principle, by which these verbs undergo a lexical shift from the action entailed in the process to the means/the instrument used to accomplish it: this mapping is able to assure a higher degree of linguistic compactness and new perspectives of the events.
After focusing on the verb, we consider the PP to death more attentively with the help of some data collected from FrameNet: from our analysis we deduce that the PP undergo different interpretations when associated, respectively, to the poison verbs falling within the “cause harm frame” and to those belonging to the “killing frame”: in the first case to death indicate the outcome of an action which is brought to its extreme consequence by means of temporal iteration/duration, in the second case the PP indicates that a huge time span is needed in order to accomplish an action whose result can be only death.
Finally, we propose a brief contrastive account of resultatives in English and German. Starting with the hypothesis that German is more able than English to compact multiple meanings into a verbal phrase by means of a separable verbal particle, thus serving also the purpose of modeling resultative pattern, we show that there is no strict difference between the strategies of building up resultatives in both languages. Through a range of examples consisting of a sentence and its translation into the other language, we demonstrate that both English and German are able to render the same meaning either with a resultative or a transitive structure. Since the choice is dictated by the conventional linguistic material each system can rely upon, it is often unpredictable.

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5 Introduction Resultative constructions have been matter of many discussions in the last decades, which moved through manifold and differentiated theorizations involving syntax, lexicon and cognitive linguistics. Despite being a complex field of analysis, we feel like giving a general definition of what we are going to investigate in the following pages: when we speak of resultative constructions we allude to secondary predications which “describe the state of an argument resulting from the action denoted by the verb” (Boas 2003: 1). We give some preliminary examples. (1) I dyed my grey school skirt dark red. (BNC) (2) Guatemala mob stones driver to death. (SF Examiner, 2.5.2000) (3) He had run himself out of breath… (BNC) The italicized phrases are resultative phrases describing the final state/change of state of the posteverbal Noun Phrase (NP), caused by the action denoted by the verb. A general scheme would be: [NP V NP XP] Where X = A, N, or P 1 (Boas 2003: 2) We said “secondary predication” because we have “two basic dependency relations between the postverbal NP and the two constituents surrounding it” (Boas 2003: 2) The former (primary predication, as in I dyed mu grey school skirt) holds between the verb and the NP, the latter holds between the NP and the following XP (secondary predication, as between skirt and red). This structure is illustrated by the following diagram (in Boas 2003: 2) V NP XP primary secondary 1 NP = Noun Phrase, V = Verb, A = Adjective, N = Noun, P = Preposition.

Laurea liv.I

Facoltà: Lettere e Filosofia

Autore: Mauro Franzini Contatta »

Composta da 47 pagine.


Questa tesi ha raggiunto 48 click dal 12/02/2013.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.