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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2020, Vol. 51, No. 3, Pages 425-470
(doi: 10.1162/ling_a_00351)
© 2019 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A Head Movement Approach to Talmy’s Typology
Article PDF (554.5 KB)

We propose that the well-known verb-framed/satellite-framed variation observed by Talmy (1975, 1985, 2000) is a true syntactic parameter of a well-understood type: a head movement parameter. We claim that it depends on an uninterpretable feature bundled with the particular v head used in change-of-state constructions that forces the head of the Res(ult)P complement of v to undergo head movement to v in Italian. The technical apparatus employed is a feature-driven head movement parameter, of the same kind that accounts for the familiar V-to-T or T-to-C movement variation crosslinguistically. We argue that in Talmy’s class of verb-framed languages, head movement of the embedded Res head to change-of-state v is mandatory, just as head movement of v to finite T is mandatory in V-to-T movement languages. Unlike previous proposals, this approach does not ascribe a deficiency to verb-framed languages, either in their semantic composition inventory or in their inventory of structural operations, both deficiencies being prima facie implausible from a biolinguistic/Minimalist perspective.