Single Events from Multiple Verb Phrases and the Role of Agentivity

Robert Truswell

in Events, Phrases, and Questions

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577774
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725319 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics

Single Events from Multiple Verb Phrases and the Role of Agentivity

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This chapter introduces the second contingent relation, enablement. Enablement is a relation holding between an agent and a set of events corresponding to the agent's plan. Subevents related by enablement can be described by a single verb phrase, the phenomenon which Talmy refers to as windowing of attention. Enablement relations induce referential opacity, and therefore cannot be described in extensional, force-dynamic terms. Event structures containing enablement relations (extended events) can be arbitrarily large, in contrast to the very low upper bound on the size of core events. Given that enablement relations require an agent, the chapter derives a correlation between agentivity and event size. This correlation explains patterns of acceptability of the progressive with accomplishments and achievements. Also the chapter adopts the null hypothesis that single-event descriptions can span multiple VPs, and considers a second, partially independent, class of noncontingent, temporal relations among events.

Keywords: enablement; planning; agentivity; complex action; rationale clauses; vp-coordination; progressive; aspectual classes; windowing of attention; Wolff

Chapter.  14608 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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