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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2018, Vol. 49, No. 3, Pages 537-559
(doi: 10.1162/ling_a_00281)
© 2018 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Depictive Secondary Predicates and Small Clause Approaches to Argument Structure
Article PDF (107.65 KB)
Some syntactic approaches to argument structure posit small clause constituents to represent what they take to be the semantics of the constructions being analyzed. For example, this approach would analyze a resultative construction like Martha hammered the metal flat as containing a small clause [the metal flat]. In the small clause analysis, the NP the metal is only an argument of the result state denoted by the small clause, and its referent is not part of the causal hammering event. Depictive secondary predicates show that this analysis is incorrect; the NP referent must be part of the verbal causing event. I show this for several constructions that have been analyzed as small clauses: resultatives, caused-motion constructions, verb-particle constructions, and double object constructions, among others. I also revisit arguments that have been presented in favor of small clause analyses (e.g., the argument from adverbial modification) and show that they do not actually favor small clause analyses. Domains of anaphora, in contrast, converge with depictives as a reliable diagnostic for small clauses, as actual small clauses always constitute opaque domains for anaphora.