On the Explanatory Power of the Hypothesis of Semantic Determination to Causative Alternation

  •  Qian Liu    


According to the hypothesis of semantic determination, meaning is a key to verb behavior; verb fall into classes on the basis of shared components of meaning, and members in the same semantic class may share patterns of behavior. This paper aims to verify the validity of component analysis in predicting syntactic behavior. It first makes a brief introduction to causative alternation, then compares the meaning components and usage of three verbs, i.e., break, cut and bake. Finally, two contradictions are found in the alternation analysis of these verbs. Therefore, the component analysis cannot completely predict their alternation type. Consequently, the explanatory power of this hypothesis is very limited as far as causative alternation is concerned.

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