Syntax/Semantics Reading Group, 12/3 — Will Johnston

This week’s syntax-semantics reading group meeting will take place Thursday, December 3th, at 1:30pm.Will Johnston will present work titled: “Nonspecific promises: restitutive ‘again’ and intensional transfer-of-possession verbs.”

Abstract: So-called transfer-of-possession (ToP) verbs, such as ‘give’ and ‘send’, have been argued to take small-clause complements. This proposal is supported by the availability of multiple readings for the adverb ‘again’ (Beck and Johnson 2004). I present new data showing that intensional ToP verbs (e.g. ‘promise’, ‘offer’) lack an expected reading of again. Under structural analyses of ‘again’ (such as von Stechow 1996), this data is puzzling. It suggests a lack of clausal structure in the underlying syntax, a conclusion which contradicts other diagnostics for clausal structure. I argue that this missing reading can be accounted for, and a unified treatment of intensional and extensional ToP verbs can be maintained, if we assume instead a lexical analysis of ‘again’: the path-based framework of Zwarts (2019).

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