Event Participants and Verbal Semantics: Non-Discrete Structure in English, Spanish and Mandarin

AbstractVerbs are widely analyzed as functions taking a discrete number of arguments (e.g., drink has two arguments but give has three). Recent studies, however, suggest that English verbs encode Instruments as more or less salient (e.g., the Instrument is more salient for slice, less salient for eat). We conducted a judgment task with adult speakers of Spanish and Mandarin and found that verbs in these languages also encode Instruments as having a relative degree of salience, inconsistent with the discrete model of participant encoding.

Return to previous page