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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2012, Vol. 43, No. 3, Pages 331-369
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00093)
© 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Manner and Result in the Roots of Verbal Meaning
Article PDF (820.64 KB)

Rappaport Hovav and Levin (2010) argue that verbs fall into (at least) two classes: result verbs (e.g., break) and manner verbs (e.g., run). No verb encodes both manner and result simultaneously, a truth-conditional fact that Rappaport Hovav and Levin argue follows from how verb meanings are composed at the level of event structure. However, a key issue in verifying this claim is isolating truth-conditional diagnostics for manner and result. We develop and review a number of such diagnostics and show that there are verbs that encode both meanings together, counterexemplifying their truth-conditional complementarity. However, using evidence from scopal adverbs, we argue that when the meanings occur together, they are encoded in a single, undecomposable manner+result root at event structure. This fact validates complementarity as a fact about how many and what types of roots may occur in an event structure, though it also argues for a richer typology of roots than is typically assumed, including those encoding manner and result simultaneously.