Results and feature specification of Polish prefixes

Adam Biały (University of Wrocław)

The area of interest of this paper is the constructionist view on aspectual interpretation. The theoretical background of the analysis is essentially that of Ramchand (2003), where the (aspectual) interpretation of events is established at the level of the 'first phase' syntax. Because this lexico-structural level determines the aspectual interpretation of predicates, it is expected that a given interpretation is a result of a given structural projection having been licensed. We are going to argue that this licensing proceeds in accordance with feature checking in the course of which [-interpretable] features are deleted (Chomsky 1995, 2000). The aim of this paper is the investigation of Polish prefixes with reference to the more general discussion on the nature of Slavic prefixes and their contribution to the licensing of the Resultative projection (R-projection), which in turn induces telicity. Following Folli and Ramchand (2002), the realisation of this projection may lead to parametric variation, as languages use different means of licensing it. Our interest focuses on what place Polish occupies with respect to this discrepancy. Like many other Slavic languages, Polish makes use of morphological means to induce telic interpretation on a verb. Since Slavic prefixes have received quite a lot of attention in the literature recently, we make use of the theories presented in the most outstanding accounts (e.g. Jabłońska 2004, Ramchand 2004, Svenonius 2004a, 2004b, 2004c).

The realisation of the R-projection by a given language has more general consequences for event augmentation, which is reflected in the licensing of resultatives and double object construction. The analysis presented in this paper will show that Polish shares certain traits with languages like Italian (it specifies verbs with respect to the [R(esult)]-feature, and does not allow simple adjective resultatives), as well as English (it allows the double object construction). We aim at providing an explanation for such a state of affairs grounded on the assumption that Polish uses a combination of structural means for achieving the interpretation associated with the R-projection (i.e. telicity), which in turn leads to an increased number of possible interpretations.

Our analysis contributes to the more general question of event compositionality and the interface between syntax, morphology and meaning. Following the constructionist model, where (event) interpretation is read off from the structural representation, the way a given language realises the R-projection answers a more general question of how it handles event compositionality.


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