A head movement approach to Talmy's typology

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We propose that the well-known verb-framed/satellite-framed variation observed by Talmy (1975 et seq.) 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 which forces the head of the Res(ult)P complement of v to head-move 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 variation cross-linguistically. 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 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 of which are prima facie implausible from a biolinguistic/Minimalist perspective.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLinguistic Inquiry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Apr 2019


  • manner of directed motion
  • telic-pair formation
  • verb-framed
  • satellite-framed
  • head movement parameter
  • Path
  • typology

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