Thursday 26 October – Marijana Marelj

Speaker: Marijana Marelj (Utrecht University)
Title: The vagueness of HAVE(ing)
Date: Thursday 26 October
Venue: Eyckhof 3/002
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs


Whether characterized as “semantically impoverished” (Butt 1995), “semi-lexical” (Corver and van Riemsdijk 2001), “vague” (Bruening 2015), or as “having no independent semantic content” (Ritter and Rosen 1997), different researchers seem to agree on the intuitive description of what the notion “light verb” is about. The formalization of what it means to be “light” or “semantically vacuous”, however, seems to elude us.

Taking the empirical domain of HAVE as a testing ground and the work of Ackema and Marelj (2012) as a starting point, I pursue the formalization of thematic lightness while maintaining the lex parsimony, i.e., having one single entry for all the guises of HAVE. This will further lead us to discuss the purported “specialness” of the complements of HAVE and probe into the relation between the Thematic and the Aspectual realms.

The upshots of the talk are the following:

  1. HAVE: <[ ]> , where [ ] is an interface, unvalued feature.
  2. The complements of light verbs are not per se aspectually “special”. It is the aspectual “scaffolding” they are embedded in that makes them look “special”.
  3. Thematic & Aspectual roles cannot and should not be collapsed into each other.

Selected  Bibliography

Ackema, Peter (1999). Issues in Morphosyntax. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Corver, Norbert & Henk van Riemsdijk (2001). Semi-Lexical Categories. The function of Content Words and the Content of Function Words. Berlin/NY: Mouton de Gruyter.
Marelj, Marijana (2004). Middles and Argument Structure across Languages. Ph.D. dissertation, Utrecht University.
Marelj, M. (2012). To have the Empty Theta Role.  The Theta System: Argument Structure at the Interface Oxford: Oxford University Press. Met Martin Everaert en Tal Siloni. Met Peter Ackema.
Pesetsky, David & Esther Torrego (2007). The syntax of valuation and the interpretability of features. In Phrasal and Clausal Architecture: Syntactic derivation and interpretation in honor of Joseph E. Emonds, ed. Simin Karimi et al. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 262-294.
Ritter, Elizabeth and Sara Thomas Rosen (1997). ‘The Function of Have’. Lingua 101, 295-321.

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