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Journal Articles Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft Year : 2023

Zero morphology and change-of-state verbs

Pavel Caha
  • Function : Author
Karen De Clercq
Guido Vanden Wyngaerd
  • Function : Author


This paper discusses a theory of conversion (zero derivation) in terms of phrasal spellout. In this approach, there are no zero morphemes. Instead, the 'silent' meaning components are pronounced cumulatively within overt morphemes. As an empirical case, we discuss adjective/verb ambiguity as in narrow. As verbs, these roots have both an inchoative and a causative sense. Following Ramchand (2008), we assume that such deadjectival causatives contain three parts: the adjective denoting a state, a change-ofstate component proc, and a causative component init. Adopting a Nanosyntax approach, we propose that verbs like narrow spell out a complex node with all these abstract heads. The ambiguity between the inchoative, causative and adjective falls out as a consequence of the Superset Principle (Starke 2009), which states that a lexical entry can spell out any subtree it contains. Since both the inchoative sense and the adjective sense correspond to proper parts of the causative one, we derive these readings without the need to postulate zeroes. We show how these assumptions allow us to capture a broad range of patterns, focussing mainly on English and Czech.


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Dates and versions

hal-03907748 , version 1 (20-12-2022)


  • HAL Id : hal-03907748 , version 1


Pavel Caha, Karen De Clercq, Guido Vanden Wyngaerd. Zero morphology and change-of-state verbs. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft, In press. ⟨hal-03907748⟩
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