Apparent polysemy and thematic underspecification

Elizabeth Cowper


In this paper, I would like to extend the theory of thematic underspecification proposed in Cowper (1989) for the verb have, and applied to manner-of-motion verbs in Cowper (1990). The two main claims of the theory are given in (1).

(1) a. The lexical conceptual structure of a single lexical item contains no disjunctions and no optional elements. It may contain variables ranging over conceptual categories such as function, event, state, thing, path, place, etc.

b. General rules, referring not to specific lexical items, but rather to the structure and content of conceptual structures, instantiate variables and spell out additional conceptual structure.

I will take as a starting point the analysis of motion verbs given in Cowper (1990). Working with Levin and Rappaport's (1989) classification of motion verbs, given in (2), I proposed the lexical representations in (3) and the rules in (4).


Polysemy; Thematic Underspecification; Motion Verbs

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