The English Resultative as Family of Constructions

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                     The English Resultative as a Family of Constructions
                           Adele E. Goldberg and Ray Jackendoff

1. A constructional view of grammar

       For fifteen years, the English resultative construction has been a focus of research on the
syntax-semantics interface. We have each made proposals about the resultative (Goldberg 1991,
1995; Jackendoff 1990, 1996a), proposals that share a certain family resemblance. The present
paper is an attempt to consolidate what our approaches have in common, to add some new
wrinkles to our common understanding, and to compare our approach to some others in the
literature. Our larger purpose is not only to show the virtues of our account of resultatives, but
also to justify aspects of what we share in our overall vision of grammar, what we might call the
“constructional” view. To the extent that our treatment of the resultative can be stated only
within the constructional view, it serves as evidence for this view as a whole.

     In the interest of being maximally provocative, let‟s start by stating some aspects of the
overall vision, even if it does involve a certain amount of sloganeering.

(1) The Constructional View:
      a.  There is a cline of grammatical phenomena from the totally idiosyncratic to the totally
      b. Everything on this cline is to be stated in a common format, from the most particular,
          such as individual words, to the most general, such as principles for verb position,
          with many subregularities in between. That is, there is no principled divide between
          “lexicon” and “rules.”
      c.  At the level of phrasal syntax, some regularities are expressed in terms of
          constructions – pieces of syntax connected to meaning in a conventionalized and
          partially idiosyncratic way.

These tenets of the constructional view have been developed by each of us in different ways
(Goldberg 1995, xxxx; Jackendoff 2002; for other versions see Langacker 1987, 1991, Lakoff
1987, Fillmore and Kay xxx, ...., Culicover 1999; for a review of various positions that call
themselves “constructional,” see Goldberg (in progress)).

       Constructions fall into roughly three types. One type diverges from general syntactic
principles and has to some extent sui generis syntax. Because of this divergence, such
constructions are relatively easy to spot. The italics in (2) mark the unusual bits of syntax:

(2)   a.    Our friends won‟t buy this analysis, let alone the next one we propose. (let alone,
            Fillmore, Kay, and O‟Connor 1988)
      b.    One more pseudo-generalization and/or I‟m giving up. (NP and/or S, Culicover and
            Jackendoff 1997b)

      c.   The more we study resultatives, the crazier they get. (comparative correlative,
           Culicover and Jackendoff 1999)
      d.   Day by day the facts are getting murkier. (N-P-N, Williams 1994; see section x)

Another type of construction involves garden-variety syntax, but there is some special meaning
attached which imposes special restrictions. These are harder to detect, but we independently
have argued (Jackendoff 1990, Goldberg 1992, 1995) that the examples in (3) involve
constructional meaning; (4b) is of course the resultative.

(3)   a.   I‟ll fix you a drink. (Beneficiary ditransitive)
      b.   Fred watered the plants flat. (Resultative)

In between these are constructions where a standard syntactic position is occupied by a special
element that marks the construction:

(4)   a.   Bill belched his way out of the restaurant. (Way-construction, Goldberg 1995,
           Jackendoff 1990)
      b.   We‟re twistin‟ the night away. (Time-away construction, Jackendoff 1997b)

       In each of these cases there is some special interpretation associated with the syntactic
structure. For instance, the NP and/or S construction (2b) means, informally, „If some
contextually determined event happens/doesn‟t happen that involves concerning NP, then S‟.
The time-away construction (4b) means roughly „subject spends time frivolously doing V‟. And
our quarry here, the resultative construction (3b), means roughly „subject makes object become
AP by V-ing it‟. Constructions can be thought of as rather like idioms: they are listed in the
lexicon with a syntactic structure, a meaning, and (where there is a special morpheme) a partial
phonology. Like idioms such as take NP to task, constructions may have argument positions.
For instance, the apparent object the night in (4b) is actually the object of the construction, not
the object of the verb twistin’; and flat in the resultative (3b) is an argument of the construction
but not of the verb water.

       An important innovation in the constructional view is that in VP constructions such as (3)
and (4), the VP‟s complement structure is no longer determined by the verb alone, as is assumed
in mainstream generative grammar. Rather, it is determined by the composite effects of the verb
and the construction. One of the crucial issues in the constructional view is to work out how this
composite is constructed. The essential point is that the verb does not change its meaning so as
to license these extra arguments: for instance belch in (4a) doesn‟t get “converted” to a motion
verb in the lexicon or anywhere else. Its contribution to the meaning of (4a) is the same as its
contribution to the meaning of Bill belched loudly; it is, as always, a verb expressing bodily
function and sound emission. The sense of motion and the sense of repeated belching in (4a)
come from the construction and from the way the construction combines semantically with the
verb to express a complex event. Similarly, we don‟t think fix in (3a) “has a beneficiary role”;
rather this role comes from the beneficiary ditransitive construction, and the verb remains its own
boring self, a verb of creation. The consequence is considerable reduction in the apparent

polysemy of verbs in the lexicon. The price is (a) allowing meaningful constructions as
independent lexical items and (b) abandoning the rigid view that the verb alone determines the
complement structure of its VP. We think this price is worth the benefit.

        Classical generative grammar does not recognize constructions in this sense; phenomena
that have more standardly been termed “constructions,” such as the passive, are taken to be
epiphenomenal outcomes of more general processes in the computational system. Thus a
defender of the classical view might well complain, “By introducing so-called constructional
principles, you‟re making an arbitrary addition to the theory of grammar. A true explanation of
the resultative would make use of mechanisms we already know.” This complaint might be
justified if the resultative were the only phenomenon that demanded a construction.

       However, as we see, there are many other such phenomena. Consider the way-
construction and the time-away construction, illustrated in (4). We simply see no way that
general principles of syntactic structure and argument structure can predict that English has such
constructions, with the meanings they have. Something has to be stipulated, to the effect that
when way or away is present in a VP under the correct conditions, the proper interpretation
emerges. We don‟t care how you wish to do it, you will have to say something special. The
constructional account says it directly, localizing the irregularity in the construction itself rather
than elsewhere in the grammar.

       In particular, because these constructions are so peculiar to English, we would seriously
question an attempt to characterize them in terms of parameter settings in the sense of Principles
and Parameters theory. Swedish and Dutch have a construction that means pretty much the same
as the English way-construction, but Swedish uses a reflexive instead of X’s way, and Dutch uses
a reflexive benefactive form instead of the possessive with a noun meaning way (Toivonen
2001[Verhagen, 2001 #501]). These differences seem to us to be brute facts, stipulations that
Swedish, Dutch and English speakers must learn. When we turn to constructions with abnormal
syntax such as those in (2), the need for English grammar to say something special about both
form and interpretation seems obvious.

       The point is that if indeed constructions in our sense are necessary in the theory of
grammar, there can be no a priori objection to using them to account for the resultative. The
resultative is unusual among the constructions mentioned here only in that it carries no overt
marking of its constructional status, such as way or a weird syntactic structure. It is for this
reason that practitioners of nonconstructional approaches have been able to hold out hope that the
resultative can follow from general principles. We know of no attempts to capture the whole
range of constructional phenomena in other frameworks; we hereby throw down the gauntlet.

       One general objection to the constructional approach grows out of an underlying
assumption in many syntactic traditions – largely unspoken – that the syntax-semantics interface
is maximally simple. Constructions add what is taken to be unwarranted complexity to this
interface. One of the reasons for this assumption has been a dearth of articulated theories of
semantics within the relevant traditions (and, in some quarters, a mistrust of attempts to build

such theories). Thus, in these traditions, it is taken for granted that if one cannot state a principle
syntactically, one cannot state it at all. Our response is that while such a methodology may have
been appropriate thirty years ago, it is time to give it up. There are plenty of articulated theories
of semantics around to choose from, and there is plenty of evidence that the syntax-semantics
interface is not a one-to-one homomorphism (Pustejovsky 1995, Jackendoff 1990, 1997a, 2002,
Lakoff 1987; Langacker 1987, 1991).

       In short, there is no justification whatsoever for rejecting the constructional approach on
general architectural grounds. That is, at least the rule type we have proposed for resultatives
falls under more general principles. It seems clear to us that the construction types in (2) do not
lend themselves at all to the classical approach; and the types in (4) are also problematic , though
perhaps not insuperably so. It seems to us that only with the construction types in (3) can there
be any serious dispute between the classical and the constructional views, for only here is there a
chance that both the syntax and interpretation may be predicted on general principles. We will
show here that our constructional approach provides a coherent story about the resultative
construction. We cannot prove that no classical solution is possible, but we will show what
challenges a classical solution must meet.

2. Taxonomy of resultatives

       The resultative construction, unlike some of the other constructions mentioned above,
shows a great deal of syntactic and semantic variation. In order to lay this out, let's start by
establishing some terminology for resultatives.

!     An identifying characteristic of a resultative sentence is an AP or PP that occupies the
      normal position of a verbal argument, for instance the italicized phrases in (6). We will
      call this phrase the “resultative phrase” or “RP” (some people use the term “resultative

(5)    a.      Herman hammered the metal flat.                                              [RP = AP]
       b.      The critics laughed the play off the stage.                                  [RP = PP]

!     A resultative may contain a direct object, in which case the RP follows the object, as in
      (5); we will call such cases "transitive resultatives." Or a resultative may lack a direct
      object, in which case the RP is immediately after the verb, as in (6); we will call these
      "intransitive resultatives."

(6)   Intransitive resultatives
       a.      The pond froze solid.                                                                      [RP=AP
       b.      Bill rolled out of the room.                                                               [RP=PP

!     In some transitive resultatives, the direct object can be selected by the verb in the absence
      of an RP. In others it cannot. We'll call the former cases "selected transitive resultatives"

      and the latter "unselected transitive resultatives."

(7)   Selected transitive resultatives
       a.      The gardener watered the flowers flat.                                                 [RP=AP
          [cf. The gardener watered the flowers.]
       b.      Bill broke the bathtub into pieces.                                                    [RP=PP
          [cf. Bill broke the bathtub.]
(8)   Unselected transitive resultatives
       a.      They drank the pub dry.                                                                [RP=AP
          [cf. *They drank the pub.]
       b.      The professor talked us into a stupor.                                                 [RP=PP
          [cf. *The professor talked us.]

!     A special case of unselected transitive resultatives has a reflexive object that cannot
      alternate with other NPs. This is often called a "fake reflexive".

(9)   Fake reflexive resultatives
       a.     We yelled ourselves hoarse.                                                             [RP=AP
          Unselected: *We yelled ourselves.
          Does not alternate with other NPs: *We yelled Harry hoarse.
       b.     Harry coughed himself into insensibility.                                               [RP=PP
          Unselected: *Harry coughed himself.
           Does not alternate with other NPs: *Harry coughed us into insensibility.

When RP = AP, it normally expresses a property. Some cases of RP = PP also have this
semantics, for example (7b), (8b), and (9b). We will refer to these two types collectively as
“property resultatives”; when we need to differentiate them we will speak of “AP property
resultatives” and “PP property resultatives.” In other sentences with RP = PP, such as (5b) and
(6b), the RP expresses a spatial path; we will call such sentences “PP spatial resultatives.” There
are arguably some adjectives that express spatial paths or configurations, such as free and clear;
as will be seen later, these may appear in a class of “AP spatial resultatives” such as He wiggled
the tooth free.

      To sum up, there are so far three independent dimensions of variation in resultative
sentences, the third of which is further subdivided:

(10) a.    RP = AP vs. RP = PP
     b.    RP = property vs. RP = spatial configuration
     c.    Intransitive vs. transitive
           i. Within transitive: selected vs. unselected
                 1. Within unselected: normal vs. fake reflexive

These dimensions are all well known. We now add:

!     One of the NPs in the sentence is normally understood as undergoing a change of state or a
      motion whose endpoint is expressed by the RP; we will call this the "host" of the RP.
      Normally the host of a transitive resultative is the object, for instance the metal in (5a) and
      the play in (5b). And normally the host of an intransitive resultative is the subject, for
      instance the pond in (6a) and Bill in (6b). That is, the choice of host appears to correlate
      exactly with transitivity and therefore does not constitute an independent dimension of
      variation. However, (11) shows a class of transitive examples that has newly emerged in
      the literature (Wechsler 1997, Verspoor 1997, Rappaport Hovav and Levin 2001) in which
      the host is the subject.

(11) Transitive resultatives with subject host
     a. Bill followed the road into the forest.
     b. We drove Highway 5 from SD to SF.
     c. The sailors rode the breeze clear of the rocks.
     d. Fred tracked the leak to its source.
     e. John danced mazurkas across the room.

And (12) shows a class of examples involved verbs of bodily emission (12a,b) (Goldberg xxx)
and ingestion (12c,d) where the entity in motion is not overtly expressed in the sentence; the host
is therefore an implicit argument.1

(12) Intransitive resultatives with implicit (i.e. non-subject) host
     a. Bill spit/urinated/ejaculated/coughed/sneezed out the window.
     b. Bill sweated on the floor.
     c. Bill ate off the floor.
     d. Bill drank from the hose.

Thus the choice of host proves to be an independent dimension in the resultative construction as

3. First pass at semantics of the resultative

       As hinted in section 1, the basic intuition behind our constructional approach to
resultatives is that the meaning of a resultative sentence contains two separate subevents. One of
them, the “verbal subevent,” is an activity defined by the verb of the sentence. The other
subevent, the “constructional subevent,” is defined by the construction. One of its arguments is
the subject of the sentence, one is the host of the RP (if distinct from the subject), and one is the
RP itself. We will show that many of the properties of the resultative construction follow from
the semantics of the two subevents.

 For some of these, one might argue that the host is a deleted cognate object, as in He spit spit
onto the floor. But this is not true of all of them: the noun cough, for instance, denotes the act of
coughing, not the guck that is coughed up, so *She coughed a cough into the sink is bad.

       What is the structure of the constructional subevent? There are two dimensions of
variation: property vs. path resultatives and noncausative vs. causative resultatives.

Property vs. Path resultatives

!     In property resultatives, the constructional subevent consists of the host coming to have
      the property expressed by the RP („host comes to have property‟). So, for example, in She
      watered the plants flat, the plants come to be flat, and in The pond froze solid, the pond
      comes to be solid.
!     In path resultatives, the constructional subevent normally consists of the host traversing
      the path expressed by the RP (we will see a variation in section 4). For instance, in Bill
      rolled the ball down the hill, the ball travels down the hill. In the follow-type examples
      (11) such as Bill followed the leak to its source, the host is subject and travels a path
      terminating at the source of the leak. In the spit-type examples (12) such as Sue spit out
      the window, the host is the implicit argument, the spit, and it traverses a path that goes out
      the window.

Noncausative vs. causative resultatives

!     When the host is the subject, i.e. in intransitive resultatives other than the spit-type and in
      the follow-type, there is no further element in the constructional subevent; it is simply a
      change of state or change of position.
!     When the host is distinct from the subject, i.e. in transitive resultatives other than the
      follow-type and in the spit-type, the constructional subevent consists in the subject causing
      the host to do what it does. For example, in Herman hammered the metal flat, Herman
      causes the metal to become flat, and in Bill talked us into a stupor, Bill causes us to go
      into a stupor. In Sue spit out the window, Sue causes the implicit spit to go out the

      The syntax of the resultative construction is a consequence of trying to express the verbal
and constructional subevents simultaneously within a single clause. The verb and the
construction both select arguments, and both sets of arguments appear in the syntax. Thus for
any syntactic argument in a resultative sentence, there are three possibilities:

1.    The argument is shared between the verb and the construction. This is the case for
      subjects, which are selected by the verb and also play a role in the constructional subevent,
      as will be seen shortly. “Selected” objects in transitive resultatives (e.g. water the plants
      flat) are also shared between the verbal and constructional subevents.
2.    The argument is selected by the construction alone. This is the case for the RP itself and
      also for “unselected” objects in transitive resultatives (e.g. drink the pub dry, talk
      ourselves into a stupor).
3.    The argument is selected by the verb alone. This is the case for the objects in the
      examples in (11) (e.g. track the leak to its source).

We will see in section 5 how this distribution of arguments comes about. For the moment we
concentrate on the arguments of the constructional subevent.

       A resultative sentence means more than just the conjunction of the verbal subevent and the
constructional subevent. For instance, Willy watered the plants flat does not mean just that Willy
both made the plants flat and watered them. Rather, the two subevents are related: Willy made
the plants flat by watering them. That is, for the bulk of cases (we will come to one class of
exceptions below), the verbal subevent is the means by which the constructional subevent takes
place. This paraphrase also shows the distribution of arguments between the two subevents:
Willy is the agent of both subevents, the plants is the patient of both subevents, and flat is the
resulting property in the constructional subevent.

     Using an informal, more or less common-practice semantic notation, we can express the
meaning of this example as follows:2

(13) Syntax:    Willy watered the plants flat:

We can extract from this the particular arguments in this example (WILLY, PLANTS, FLAT) and
the particular verbal subevent (WILLY WATER PLANTS) to get the semantic structure of the
construction, shown in (14). The subscripts in (14) indicate the correspondence between the
syntactic arguments and the corresponding semantic arguments.

(14) Causative property resultative
     Syntax:    NP1 V NP2 AP3
     Semantics: X1 CAUSE [Y2 BECOME Z3]
                MEANS: [VERBAL SUBEVENT]

       This does not show how the arguments of the verbal subevent are integrated with the
constructional subevent; we set this issue aside until section 5. However, we can see already that
some of the syntax of the construction is predicted by the semantics of the constructional
subevent. As is well known, there are actual verbs that have the meaning „X cause Y to become
Z‟, for instance make and get, and these show exactly the same distribution of arguments in
syntax as the construction: Willy made/got the plants flat. That is, whatever general principles
of argument linking are responsible for mapping the semantics of these verbs to their syntactic
argument structure, these same principles can be used to map the constructional subevent to its
syntactic argument structure. So this much of the syntax of resultatives is already explained by

 Another tradition in the literature treats the semantics as in (i):
For reasons to be discussed in section 5.1, we reject this interpretation, which makes it
impossible to express certain semantic distinctions and generalizations that we find essential to
an explanation of the resultative.

the semantics.3
       Example (13) is a causative transitive property resultative, with RP=AP. Some of the
other varieties are shown in (15).

(15) a.    Noncausative property resultative (e.g. The pond froze solid)
           Syntax:     NP1 V AP/PP2
           Semantics: X1 BECOME Y2
                       MEANS: [VERBAL SUBEVENT]

      b.   Noncausative path resultative (“intransitive motion construction”, e.g. The ball
           rolled down the hill)
           Syntax:      NP1 V PP2
           Semantics: X1 GO Path2
                        MEANS: [VERBAL SUBEVENT]

      c.   Causative path resultative (“caused motion construction”, e.g. Bill rolled the ball
           down the hill)
           Syntax:      NP1 V NP2 PP3
           Semantics: X1 CAUSE [Y2 GO Path3]
                        MEANS: [VERBAL SUBEVENT]

        A different relation between the verbal and constructional subevents appears in (16). This
is a class of intransitive path resultatives in English in which the verb expresses emission of a
sound (Levin and Rappaport Hovav 1990):

(16) a.    The trolley rumbled through the tunnel.
     b.    The wagon creaked down the road.
     c.    The bullets whistled past the house.

Here, as in The ball rolled down the hill, the verbal subevent is the subject performing the action
expressed by the verb – the trolley is rumbling – and the constructional subevent is the subject
moving along the path expressed by the PP – the trolley moves through the tunnel. However, the
meaning of the sentence is not that the verbal subevent is the means by which the constructional
subevent takes place (e.g. the rolling is the means of moving down the hill), but rather that the

 When studying the resultative construction, it is important to exclude verbs that intrinsically
have resultative semantics. For example, make allows a predicate NP instead of the AP: They
made him president/angry. The verb paint also allows an NP: paint it a pretty shade of red.
And drive, as in drive NP crazy, allows only a range of APs and PPs that all refer to demented
mental states: nuts, bananas, to distraction, into a tizzy, and so on. This is typical: the
prototypical ditransitive verb, give, has a broader semantic distribution than constructional
ditransitives such as throw him the ball. Some authors (e.g. Boas 2000) run into trouble trying to
express the constraints on the resultative construction because they fail to exclude the lexical
resultatives such as make, paint, and drive.

motion causes the sound to be emitted: the rumbling is a result of the trolley‟s motion. To see
this difference more clearly, consider examples like (17), which are ungrammatical for most
(though not all) speakers .

(17) a. * The car honked down the road.
     b. * The dog barked out of the room.
     c. * Bill whistled past the house.

These are evidently out because the sound is not a result of the subject‟s motion. The car‟s
honking and the dog‟s barking are separate actions from their motion. In particular, compare
(16c) and (17c): bullets make whistling noises as an inherent property of their motion, but
people don‟t; their whistling is a separate volitional act. This is not to say the subevents in (17)
cannot be combined into a single clause: the way-construction (at least for many speakers)
allows the subevents to be simply simultaneous rather than causally related:

(18) a.    The car honked its way down the road.
     b.    The dog barked its way out of the room.
     c.    Bill whistled his way past the house.

       We conclude that sound-emission resultatives are not licensed by principle (15b), though
they share the same syntactic form and the same two subevents. Rather they are a consequence
of principle (19). (For speakers who accept (17), the semantic relation may be

(19) Sound emission path resultative
     Syntax:    NP1 V PP2
     Semantics: X1 GO Path2
                RESULT: [VERBAL SUBEVENT:             X1 EMIT SOUND]

      Note that there is a selectional restriction on the verbal subevent, which constrains the
construction to sound emission verbs. Even the closely related class of light emission verbs is
prohibited. For instance, suppose the trolley in (16a) is emitting sparks from its wheels as it
rumbles through the tunnel. We still cannot say *The trolley sparked through the tunnel; again
the more liberal way-construction, The trolley sparked its way through tunnel is all right.

       We find it noteworthy that sound-emission path resultatives have a different relation
between the two subevents than do ordinary “means” resultatives. And we think that this
difference does not follow from any general considerations of well-formedness of meaning, given
that the examples in (18), with the desired meaning, are much more widely accepted. Therefore,
for us this is one point where the resultative begins to fragment into a number of distinct
subconstructions with similar syntax, similar argument structure, and even similar subevents –
but each subconstruction has its own peculiarities of interpretation and its own selectional
restrictions. We return to this issue in sections 5 and 6.

        Going back to the more general issue: any treatment of resultatives has to account for the
fact that they have the range of forms and interpretations shown in (14), (15), and (19). For a
first approximation, a constructional approach to resultatives says that the syntax-semantics
interface of English contains these five constructions in addition to the other principles (or
constructions!) that link the semantic arguments of a verb to its syntactic arguments (via a
thematic hierarchy or whatever); that is, the constructions in (14)/(15)/(19) allow particular
mappings between syntax and semantics. Languages such as Spanish and Japanese have far less
general resultative constructions: they allow only atelic path RPs combined with verbs that
independently encode motion (Aske 1989; Nakamura 1997). It is clear that there is something
about English that allows it to license resultatives with the particular range of interpretations that
it does. The generalizations in (14)/(15)/(19) capture what this something is.

       Now it might seem to some linguists that such a solution is “merely stipulative
description,” and that “linguistic theory should seek an explanation of the resultative
construction.” To a certain extent we agree. The question is what constitutes an explanation.
We begin by noting that something must be stipulated in order to equip English with resultative
sentences. Perhaps the stipulation is some unusual syntactic structure involving small clauses or
the like (Hoekstra ??citation);but this syntactic structure must also come with a rule of
interpretation that results in the interpretations in (14)/(15)/(19). Or perhaps the stipulation is a
rule in the lexicon that amplifies verbs‟ argument structures (as in Rappaport Hovav 1991and
some versions of HPSG and LFG); if so, this rule must also specify the resulting meaning. Or
perhaps the stipulation is some abstract parameter that connects to other properties of the
language (Snyder 200x); if so, this parameter still has to predict what the allowable forms and
meanings of resultative sentences are in English. In other words, something like the
generalizations in (14)/(15)/(19) ultimately must be captured in the grammar of English. The
constructional approach simply states them directly, thereby avoiding further complexities in (a)
the syntax, (b) the lexical entries of verbs, or (c) mappings from abstract parameters to
grammatical properties.

      Is this enough? For us, the issue of explanation comes down to the following questions:

!     What do the constructions themselves explain? That is, what properties of resultative
      sentences can be predicted by the five constructions (14)/(15)/(19) or successive
      refinements of them?
!     What properties of the constructions can be explained on more general principles, thereby
      giving the language learner less to learn?

       We have already seen one aspect of the constructions that can be explained. If we assume
that the constructional subevent rather than the verb determines the syntax of the construction
(we will modulate this assumption in section 5), then the syntax of the construction follows
ordinary principles of argument linking. In noncausative resultatives, the theme is in subject
position and the RP is postverbal, just as with ordinary noncausative verbs such as become
(property) and go (path). In causative resultatives, the agent is in subject position, the theme is in
object position, and the RP follows the object, just as with ordinary causative verbs such as make

(property) and put (path). In other words,

(20) The semantic argument structure of the constructional subevent determines the
     syntactic argument structure of the sentence by general principles of argument

       We next turn to other important generalizations having to do with the aspectual properties
of resultatives.

4. The meaning of resultatives explains their aspectual properties

4.1. Telic, atelic, and stative resultatives. There seems to be a widespread view in the
literature (e.g. Rappaport Hovav and Levin 2001; Goldberg 1995: 196; Levin and Rappaport
Hovav 1995, 56-58; Rothstein 2000, Tenny 1994, 36-37; Vanden Wyngaerd 1999, 81, 2001, 64;
Boas 2000) that resultative sentences are invariably telic. (In fact, the term “resultative” suggests
that the sentence expresses the result of some action.) However, this view is false. Here are
three pieces of evidence against this view.

      First, path resultatives are telic if and only if the RP is end-bounded (in the sense of
Jackendoff 1991):

(21) End-bounded spatial PPs, telic resultatives:
     a. Bill floated into the cave (*for hours [on non-repetitive reading])
     b. Bill pushed Harry off the sofa (*for hours [on non-repetitive reading])
(22) Non-end-bounded spatial PPs, atelic resultatives:
     a. Bill floated down the river (for hours [non-repetitive])
     b. Bill pushed Harry along the trail (for hours [non-repetitive])

        Second, although APs used with predicates of change normally denote the endstate of
change (Goldberg 1991, 1995; Wechsler 19xx), the AP constructions A-er and A-er and ever A-
er do not: For hours, the mixture got hotter and hotter. When serving as RP, these APs create
atelic resultatives:4

4       We use the term “construction” here in the technical sense of section 1. Note first that
usually an adjective cannot conjoin with itself (i); only comparative adjectives can. Second,
conjoined comparatives can usually appear as the predicate of either states or events (ii), but A-er
and A-er can appear only as the predicate of an event (iii).
(i)     The building is tall and wide/*tall.
(ii)    This building got/is taller and wider than that one.
(iii) This building got/*is taller and taller (*than that one).
Third, with longer adjectives we get more and more beautiful; ordinary conjoined comparatives
come out differently: more beautiful and (more) exciting. Thus at bottom the construction
appears to be a reduplication of the comparative morpheme. The meaning involves some sort of
quantification over successive stages, and is paralleled by the equally idiosyncratic ever taller,
(23) Non-end-bounded state of change denoted by an AP, atelic resultatives:
     a. For hours, Bill heated the mixture hotter and hotter. [non-repetitive]
     b. For hours, Bill hammered the metal ever flatter. [non-repetitive]
     c. For years, Penelope wove the shawl longer and longer. [non-repetitive]

      Third, there exist stative sentences that are indistinguishable from resultatives in both
syntactic structure and argument structure properties.

(24) Stative path resultatives
     a. The road zigzagged down the hill.
     b. The rope stretched over the pulley.
     c. The weights stretched the rope over the pulley.

(24a) is paralleled by the typical intransitive path resultative Barbara zigzagged down the hill,
but it is not a motion sentence. (24b,c) can be construed either as change of state (e.g. the rope
gradually stretches) – in which case they fall under standard resultatives – or as continued states
of tension in the rope. The latter interpretation is not even an event, much less a telic event. Yet
one would like to treat the argument structure properties of both interpretations in terms of a
common solution. Thus it appears necessary to admit not only atelic resultatives, but stative

        Let us see how these data follow immediately from the treatment of resultative semantics
in (14)/(15). It has often been observed in the literature that the telicity of motion events is
correlated with the end-boundedness of the path of motion (Jackendoff 1996 and references
there). For instance, the PP into the room expresses a path that terminates in the room; and John
went into the room expresses a telic event, i.e. one that has a definite ending when John is in the
room. By contrast, the PP along the river expresses a path whose end is not specific; and John
went along the river expresses an atelic event, i.e. one whose termination is not specific. This
correlation is brought out explicitly in the formalism of motion and change in Jackendoff 1996:
in this formalism, the time-course of an event of change is homomorphic to the structure of the
path of change, in particular preserving end-boundedness. In turn, the telicity of an event
amounts precisely to the end-boundedness of its time-course.

       Now consider the account of the semantics of path resultatives in (15). The constructional
subevent is the “main event” in the semantic structure. As a consequence, its temporal structure
determines the telicity of the sentence. Its final argument, the RP, corresponds to the path of
motion. Since the end-boundedness of the RP determines the telicity of the constructional
subevent, and the telicity of the constructional subevent determines the telicity of a resultative
sentence, we derive directly the correlation observed in (21)-(22). Similarly, expressions like
hotter and hotter arguably denote an unbounded path of change in the “hot direction”; hence
when used as RP they too will result in atelic sentences like (23).

ever more beautiful.

       Next let us consider the statives. In general, a stative or “extension” interpretation of an
erstwhile motion verb is possible when the theme is an object idealized as extended in one
dimension, i.e. as an “elaborated line.” The meaning of the “extension” interpretation is that the
theme, rather than moving along the path, occupies the entire extent of the path.5 For example,
the road goes along the river asserts not that the road travels but that the road occupies a linear
space parallel to and nearby the river. In the formalism of Jackendoff 1996, this is because in an
extension interpretation, the theme rather than the time-course is homomorphic to the structure of
the path, and there is no inherent time-course. In turn, the absence of an inherent time-course is
what makes a sentence stative.6

       The stative interpretations in (24) fall under this generalization: the themes are the road
and the rope, and these are asserted to be extended over the paths expressed by down the hill and
over the pulley respectively. This is exactly what is expected under the semantic analysis in (15):
like ordinary verbs of motion, the resultative construction can be “coerced” into an extension
reading, given the right choice of subject.

       Some other aspects of the extension interpretation are worthy of note. First, the verb in a
path resultative often expresses manner of motion. But this cannot be true of zigzag in (24a),
since there is no motion. Rather, the verb expresses the detailed shape of the path: at the
coarsest idealization, the path just extends down the hill; but at the next level of detail it has a
zigzag shape. This analysis can actually be applied just as well to the motion interpretation:
zigzagging consists in traversing a zigzag-shaped path. Similarly, in (24b,c) the verb is
interpreted as a manner of motion (or better, manner of adopting a shape), brought about by
application of force. But on the extension interpretation it is interpreted as maintenance of shape
under application of force. In other words, when the resultative sentence becomes stative, the
verbal subevent must be interpreted statively as well.7 In addition, consider the transitive stative
resultative in (24c). Causation in this interpretation does not involve change but rather forced
maintenance of a state – just like the causation in with ordinary verbs in sentences like (25).

5      This interpretation requires some suitable level of abstraction. For example, the telephone
poles go along the road means not that the road‟s edge is covered with telephone poles, but that
the poles form a “virtual line” that extends along the road. See Talmy 19xx, Jackendoff 1990,
ch. 6; Langacker 1987.

6      Talmy 199x, 1996 treats such sentences as “fictive motion,” as though one imagines
oneself or one‟s gaze traveling the road and thereby traveling along the river. While this
interpretation is intuitively seductive, a full semantic analysis still must explain why sentences
expressing extension are stative rather than eventive, as far as we know an issue not addressed by
Talmy. The stativity is crucial to our analysis here.

7 The relation between the two subevents must be reinterpreted as well, as „means‟ is normally a
relation between two events rather than two states.

(25) a.    The weights made the rope stretch over the pulley.
     b.    The weights kept the rope stretched over the pulley.

      The overall generalization is:

(26) The aspectual structure of the constructional subevent controls the aspectual
     structure of the resultative sentence; in turn, the aspectual structure of the
     constructional subevent is predictable from general principles correlating event
     structure with change, extension, motion, and paths.

Thus our account of resultatives is to this degree explanatory.

4.2. Temporal relation of the two subevents. Next let us turn to the temporal relation between
the two subevents of the resultative. On the analysis in (14)/(15), the verbal subevent is a means
toward the constructional subevent. To do X by means of doing Y, one cannot doX first and
then do Y. Thus this predicts that the constructional subevent may not entirely precede the
verbal subevent. And this prediction seems correct.

      What this prediction leaves open is whether the verbal subevent is concurrent with the
constructional subevent, overlaps with it, or entirely precedes it. All of these options are possible
with means expressions in general, depending on the pragmatics of the situation. (27) provides

(27) a.    Cause cotemporal with effect:
           Bill made the ball go up the hill by pushing it.
      b.   Cause overlaps with inception of effect:
           Bill made the vase fall on the floor by knocking against it.
      c.   Cause completely precedes effect:
           Bill made himself get sick on Tuesday by eating mushrooms on Monday.

The first two are clearly possible with transitive resultatives, as predicted:

(28) a.    Cause cotemporal with effect:
           Bill pushed the ball up the hill.
      b.   Cause overlaps with inception of effect:
           Bill knocked the vase onto the floor.

It is not clear whether the temporal relation in (27a), in which the means entirely precedes the
main event, is an option for resultatives. Rappaport Hovav and Levin (2001) claim it is, citing
the following example.

(29) Sam sang enthusiastically during the class play. He woke up hoarse the next day and said,
     „Well, I guess I‟ve sung myself hoarse.‟      (RH&L: 775)

Were this possible, there would be nothing left to explain about the temporal relations in
resultatives beyond the possibilities implicit in the means interpretation. However, we feel that
in the preferred reading of (24), Sam only notices his throat becoming sore after a time delay, but
infers that the injury to his throat had been initiated by the time the singing ended. So it is
necessary to explain why the “means before event” reading is excluded or at least strongly
dispreferred in resultatives.

       We think that the reason for this exclusion is in fact at hand. Fodor (1970) observes that
biclausal causatives permit a means expression in which the means precedes the cause. This is
the case in (27c), for instance, as well as examples like (30a). However, Fodor points out that
monoclausal causatives such as (30b) do not permit such a temporal relation (for possible
reasons, see McCawley 1978; Jackendoff 1990, 150-151).

(30) a. Sue made Bill die on Thursday by poisoning his breakfast on Wednesday.
     b. * Sue killed Bill on Thursday by poisoning his breakfast on Wednesday.

On the analysis in (14)/(15), resultatives are syntactically monoclausal, and the verbal subevent
functions semantically like a means expression. Hence, whatever the reason for the temporal
constraint on means expressions in monoclausal sentences, this constraint ought to apply to
resultatives as well.

       An exception that proves the rule comes from the sound-emission resultatives. Note for
instance that in The door banged open, the banging can be at the end of the opening, say as the
door strikes the adjacent wall. If the temporality restrictions observed in this section were a
necessary property of resultatives, this outcome would not be predicted. However, this
possibility does follow automatically from (19), our treatment of the semantics of sound-
emission resultatives. Here, unlike other resultatives, the verbal subevent (banging) is a result of
the constructional subevent (coming open) rather than a means to it. Thus the general constraint
on causation stipulates only that the banging cannot precede the opening, precisely the correct

        To summarize, we find that the temporal relations between the subevent designated by the
verb and the subevent designated by the construction are predicted by three independently
necessary factors: (1) the semantic relation between the two subevents, whether it be means or
result, (2) our pragmatic world knowledge of the particular subevents in question, (3) the strong
tendency to interpret means expressions in monoclausal events as cotemporal. In short,

(31) The semantics and syntax of resultatives explain the possibilities for temporal
     relations between the two subevents.

5. How arguments are shared between the two subevents

      So far we have ignored the effects of the verbal subevent on the resultative, other than the

fact that it supplies the overt verb in the syntax. Now we return to an issue set aside in section 3:
how the semantic arguments of the verb project into the syntax.

5.1. Argument sharing in the resultative violates the Theta Criterion. In section 3 we asserted
that certain arguments of the verb are “shared” with the construction. For example, in (32)
(=(13)), Willy and the plants have roles in both subevents.

(32) Syntax:         Willy watered the plants flat:
                     MEANS: WILLY WATER PLANTS

This analysis of course violates the Theta-Criterion, in that the NPs in the sentence are assigned
multiple thematic roles. We personally have no problem with such an outcome. For instance,
Jackendoff 1990 (chapter 3) offers arguments against the usual formulation of the Theta-
Criterion, namely one thematic role per NP.8 For the simplest sort of example, compare the
water is running with Sue is running. In both cases there is movement in space, i.e. the subject is
Theme on the usual analysis. But the latter example attributes Sue‟s motion to her own volition,
that is, the subject is an Agent or Actor on the usual analysis, and thus the subject has two
thematic roles. This is not to say that the mappings between syntactic position and thematic roles
are random or unconstrained; it is just that they are not as simple as the Theta Criterion supposes.

       Theories of the resultative that take the Theta Criterion for granted are thereby forced to
either posit extra NPs in the sentence or else ignore some of the roles in the semantics. An
example might be a small clause analysis. One such theory is the small clause treatment, which
might assign a structure like (33a) or (33b) (along lines proposed in Hoekstra 19xx and Levin
and Rappaport Hovav 1995, for example).

(33) a.    Syntax:        Willy [VP watered [SC the plants flat]]
           Semantics:     [WILLY WATER] CAUSE [PLANTS BE FLAT]
      b.   Syntax:        Willy [VP watered the plants [SC PRO flat]]
           Semantics:     [WILLY WATER PLANTS] CAUSE [PLANTS BE FLAT]

These have a one-to-one mapping from syntactic to semantic arguments, as desired. However,
they do not show what licenses the small clause, which syntactically looks like an argument of
water. (33a) also does not show why water, which normally occurs only transitively, suddenly
takes a small clause instead: it doesn‟t show that Willy watered the plants. (33b) retains plants
as an object but then requires an extra NP, PRO, in the small clause, to take up the theta-role
predicated by flat.

      Furthermore, the small clause analyses presume that causative events have an event as

8 In fact Chomsky 1981, in a little-cited footnote (note 14, page 139), also casts doubt on the
principle; and his formal statement of the Theta-Criterion (p. 335) is quite different from one
thematic role per NP.

causer rather than, say, an animate agent: it isn‟t Willy who makes the plants flat, it‟s his
watering. Under this analysis, Floyd broke the glass has the semantic analysis in (34a) rather
than that in (34b), which we favor.


The choice between (34a) and (34b) is beyond the scope of the discussion here (see Jackendoff
19xx for some arguments). However, notice the consequences for the syntax-semantics
mapping. In a normal causative sentence like Floyd broke the glass, the content of the verb
shows up in the semantics as part of the effect, that is, in the right-hand argument of CAUSE. But
in the semantics of the resultative (33a,b), the content of the verb shows up as part of the cause,
that is, in the left-hand argument of CAUSE.

       In short, the small clause analysis of resultatives, although it adheres to the Theta-Criterion
with respect to the NP arguments, requires an unusual mapping of syntax to semantics, in
violation of the spirit if not the letter of the Theta-Criterion, as well as an unusual licensing
condition for the small clause. Such an unusual mapping, accompanied by unusual licensing
conditions, is precisely what is intended by our constructional approach. In other words, we do
not think that the constructional view can be avoided by demanding adherence to the Theta
Criterion – a principle that we in any event reject.

5.2. Argument Realization. Let us turn more directly to the issue of argument sharing between
the verbal and constructional subevents. Our hypothesis can be stated as (35):9

(35) Argument Realization
     All the syntactic arguments obligatorily licensed by the verb and all the syntactic
     arguments licensed by the construction must be simultaneously realized in the syntax,
     sharing syntactic positions if necessary in order to achieve syntactic wellformedness.

       Let us work through a few examples. Consider first (32), Willy watered the plants flat.
The verb water is obligatorily transitive, since *Willy watered is out. Thus by Argument
Realization, both arguments of the verb must appear in the syntax in (32) – and they do. The
constructional subevent has three arguments: a causer (or agent) mapped into subject position, a
patient mapped into object position, and a predicate, and Argument Realization demands that all
of these be expressed too. So we have a total of five arguments to be mapped into only three
syntactic positions. However, Argument Realization permits two of these to be shared, which is
in fact the case: Willy and the plants serve as arguments of both subevents and thereby have
multiple thematic roles.

      Suppose instead that we tried to combine the same verbal subevent with a constructional

9This condition is proposed in slightly different form in Goldberg 1995. Jackendoff 1990 has a
weaker formulation, dealing explicitly only with the sharing of the subject argument.

subevent „Willy made the ground become wet‟. Then there would be two distinct patients
competing for the same syntactic position, one from the constructional subevent and one from the
verbal subevent. This is impossible in English: *Willy watered the plants the ground wet. The
reason is that there is only one syntactic position in the clause that a patient can map into.10 And
neither of these NPs can be omitted because of the principle of Argument Realization.

       Suppose, however, that the verb is only optionally transitive, for instance drink (the beer),
and we again wish to combine it with a constructional subevent that has a different patient, say
„make the pub dry‟. This time Argument Realization permits us to leave the verb‟s patient
implicit and express only the construction‟s patient, so we can get Dave drank the pub dry. Here
the only shared argument is Dave, which is agent in both subevents. Similarly, if the verb is
intransitive, for instance laugh, there is no patient in the verbal subevent, and the agent is shared
with the constructional subevent, as in The critics laughed the play off the stage. Thus Argument
Realization accounts for both selected and unselected variants of transitive resultatives. (36)
sums up the analysis so far.

(36) Transitive resultatives
     a. Selected transitive resultatives
         Willy watered the plants flat.
         Constructional subevent: Agent: Willy; Patient: the plants; Predicate: flat
         Verbal subevent:           Agent: Willy; Patient: the plants
          2 arguments shared
     b. Unselected transitive resultatives with optionally transitive verb
         Dave drank the pub dry.
         Constructional subevent: Agent: Dave; Patient: the pub; Predicate: dry
         Verbal subevent:           Agent: Dave; Patient: implicit
          1 argument shared
     c. Unselected transitive resultatives with intransitive verb
         The critics laughed the play off the stage
         Constructional subevent: Agent: the critics; Patient: the play; Path: off the stage
         Verbal subevent:           Agent: the critics
          1 argument shared
     d. Impossible case
         *Willy watered the plants the ground wet.
         Constructional subevent: Agent: Willy; Patient: the ground; Predicate: wet
         Verbal subevent:           Agent: Willy; Patient: the plants
          1 argument shared; no way to map two independent Patients into the same clause

      Another sort of impossible case concerns a verb that requires not an obligatory object, but

10The authors differ on how this restriction is stated. For AG, the reason is that there is no
construction of English that licenses such a syntactic structure. For RJ, the reason is that the
general rules of English syntax and argument linking prohibit two postverbal NPs preceding an
AP argument. These may eventually reduce to notational variants, but we‟re not sure yet.

an obligatory path argument. Consider the contrast between walk and pad, both verbs of motion:

(37) a.    Bill walked (around the room) for hours.
     b.    Bill padded *(around the room) for hours.

Now notice what happens when these verbs are combined with the transitive property resultative

(38) a.    Bill walked himself into a coma.
           Constructional subevent: Agent: Bill; Patient: himself; Property: into a coma
           Verbal subevent:           Agent/Theme: Bill; Path: implicit
           1 argument shared
      b. * Bill padded himself into a coma.
           Constructional subevent: Agent: Bill; Patient: himself; Property: into a coma
           Verbal subevent:           Agent/Theme: Bill; Path: implicit
           1 argument shared; violates Argument Realization for pad
      c. * Bill padded himself into the room into a coma.
           Constructional subevent: Agent: Bill; Patient: himself; Property: into a coma
           Verbal subevent:           Agent/Theme: Bill; Path: into the room
            1 argument shared; no way to map Path PP and property PP into the same clause

(38b) is bad because the required Path argument of pad is not expressed, in violation of
Argument Realization; (38c) is bad because two different Path arguments are competing for the
same syntactic slot.

5.3. An enumeration of verbal subevent types: noncausative resultatives. On the whole,
previous research (ours included) has assumed that the range of possible resultatives is a
consequence of general principles, and has sought to find these general principles. Here we have
already stated a number of general principles which explain a great deal about the construction.
However, we have already seen one case, the sound-emission resultative, which places a rather
arbitrary selectional restriction on the verbal subevent. Therefore it might be prudent to ask
whether some of the curious behavior of other resultatives might be a symptom of more of the
same. This is the task we take up now, attempting to enumerate the various kinds of verbal
subevents that resultative constructions can combine with.

      Let us begin with the noncausatives, where there are fewer possibilities. The spatial
noncausative resultative permits the verbal subevent to be a manner of motion (39a) or a change
of property (39b). It does not permit the verbal subevent to be a speech-act or bodily function
(39c,d) although these are acceptable in the way-construction (40).

(39) Noncausative spatial resultative
     Verbal subevent is:
     a. Manner of motion:           The bottle floated into the cave.
     b. Change of property:         The chocolate melted onto the carpet.

     c. *Speech-act:                *Bill joked into the room.
     d. *Bodily function:           *Bill belched into the room.
(40) Bill joked/belched his way into the room.

       The property noncausative resultative is more constrained. With RP=AP, it seems to be
restricted to a very few (but frequently cited) formulaic cases such as (41), where semantically
very close and equally plausible examples such as (42) are impossible.

(41) Noncausative AP property resultative
     a. The pond froze solid/hard.
     b. The roast burned black.
     c. Bill blushed pink.
     d. Dora dropped dead.
(42) a. * The chocolate melted liquid.
     b. *The metal cooled hard.
     c. * The lobster boiled red.
     d. *The roast burned brown.
     e. *Floyd froze dead.

      One class of apparent exceptions involves adjectives such as free, loose, clear, and open:

(43) a.    Willy wiggled free/loose (of the ropes).
     b.    Judy jumped clear of the rocks.
     c.    The bottle broke open.

However, these adjectives arguably denote spatial configurations with some force-dynamic
overtones: Willy ends up in a position in space where the ropes don‟t constrain him, and Judy
ends up in a position in space where the rocks can‟t injure her. Likewise, being open is not only
a property but also a spatial configuration, affording free passage between the interior and
exterior of the object. We therefore take these cases to be not property resultatives, but AP
spatial resultatives, where the verbal subevent falls under case (39a), manner of motion. Under
this analysis, then, noncausative AP property resultatives are not at all productive, and they may
well be restricted to a few individually memorized combinations.

       With RP=PP, there are more possibilities. (44a-d) mean the same as (42a,b), but with PPs
replacing the APs.

(44) Noncausative PP property resultative
     a. The chocolate melted into a gooey mess.
     b. The metal cooled into a lump.
     c. The lobster boiled to a lovely shade of red.
     d. The roast burned to an unappealing brown.
     e. Floyd froze to death.

In all the examples in (44), the verbal subevent is a change of property. None of the other
possibilities illustrated in (39) appear to work (45a-d). Notably, these all work as causative
resultatives with a fake reflexive (46).

(45) Noncausative PP property resultative
     Verbal subevent is:
     a. *Manner of motion:        *Rita ran into a coma.
     b. Change of property:        The chocolate melted into a gooey mess.
     c. *Speech-act:              *Ted yelled into a hoarse state.
     d. *Bodily function:         *Kim cried to sleep.

(46) a.    Rita ran herself into a coma.
     b.    The chocolate melted itself into a gooey mess.
     c.    Ted yelled himself into a hoarse state.
     d.    Kim cried himself to sleep.

       There has been considerable discussion in the literature (e.g. Levin and Rappaport Hovav
1995, Rappaport Hovav and Levin 2001) of why *Ted yelled hoarse is out. We now see that
there are two independent reasons. First, with the exception of a few formulaic cases, all
intransitive AP property resultatives are bad. We see this as just a brute fact with no general
explanation. Second, intransitive resultatives in general reject speech-acts and bodily functions
as verbal subevents. This may or may not be a fact calling for explanation; we return to the
question in section 6. A third point worth noticing is that spatial resultatives are more liberal
than property resultatives, as seen by contrasting (39a) and (45a). Again this may be a
consequence of more general principles, but for the moment we leave the issue open.11

5.4. Enumeration of verbal subevent types: causative resultatives.

       There are of course many more combinations with causative resultatives. We begin again
with the case where the verbal subevent has two arguments shared with the resultative, i.e.
selected transitive resultatives. Here are the spatial cases:

(47) Selected causative spatial resultative
     Verbal subevent is:
     a. Caused motion:            Ron rolled the ball down the hill.
                                  Willy wiggled the tooth out of its socket.

11Does syntactic unaccusativity have anything to do with this distribution, as argued at length by
Levin and Rappaport Hovav 1995? The spatial resultative is probably unergative, and it
combines with both unergatives (manner of motion) and unaccusatives (property change) – but
not all unergatives (speech-act and bodily function). The property resultative is probably
unaccusative, and it combines only with unaccusatives; this might somehow be made to follow
(perhaps by Goldberg‟s (1995) principle of Semantic Coherence). But this would still leave
unexplained the severe constraints on the use of APs as RP.

      b.   Caused change of property:        Manny melted the cheese into the omelet.12
      c.   *Speech-act:            (No appropriate 2-argument speech-act verbs)
      d.   *Bodily function:       (No appropriate 2-argument bodily function verbs)
      e.   Directed action of other sorts:
                                   Cathy kicked the ball down the hill.
                                   Sam squeezed the ball into the hole.

Here are comparable property resultatives. Again, the RP=AP cases seem on the whole more
limited than the RP=PP cases (especially if we remove the spatial APs) – though not as severely
as in the noncausatives. We will not make the distinction here.13

(48) Selected causative property resultative
     Verbal subevent is:
     a. ??Caused motion:         ???
     b. Caused change of property:          Manny melted the cheese into a gooey mess.
     c. *Speech-act:             (No appropriate 2-argument speech-act verbs)
     d. *Bodily function:        (No appropriate 2-argument bodily function verbs)
     e. Other directed action: Willy watered the plants flat.
                                 The goon kicked Marlowe black and blue/into submission.

[If we don‟t think of any,....] Again the main difference between the spatial and property
resultatives is that the latter exclude verbal subevents of motion.

       Here are the cases where the verbal subevent shares only one argument with the
resultative, i.e. the unselected resultatives.14

12The classic example of this is Goldberg‟s (1991) He broke the eggs into the bowl. Levin and
Rappaport Hovav 1995 (60-61) cite it as a potential counterexample to their claim that there can
only be one delimiting state per clause, because the eggs both end up broken and end up in the
bowl. They take a stab at resolving this problem by saying the broken eggs are whole eggs and
the eggs in the bowl are only the eggs‟ contents, so the sentence covertly speaks of two different
entitites undergoing change. This story cannot be told in (47b): the same cheese melts as ends
up in the omelet.

13Though as incentive we observe the formulaic shoot/stab NP dead, where parallel
*strangle/choke/poke/burn dead are all bad. Substitute to death and they‟re all okay. We don‟t
think there are any deep semantic morals to be drawn.

14Here we do not distinguish the pure fake reflexives (Bill cried himself/*Fred to sleep) from the
reflexives that alternate with other objects. In some cases we suspect the difference is pragmatic.
For example, it‟s hard to imagine making someone else go to sleep by crying (the meaning of the
causative resultative); whereas it is possible to make someone else go to sleep by singing, hence
sing himself/Fred to sleep is acceptable with a reflexive or another object.

(49) Unselected causative spatial resultative
     Verbal subevent is:
     a. Motion (i.e. subject moves): *John jumped the rock into the ground.
                                       (i.e. John made the rock go into the ground by jumping)
             Fake reflexive:           John wriggled himself out of the ropes.
                                       (cf. *John wriggled Fred (out of the ropes)
     b. *Change of property (i.e. subject changes):       ???
     c. Speech-act?:            The critics laughed the play off the stage.
     d. Bodily function:        Sam sneezed the handkerchief off the table.
     e. Directed action of other sorts:     ??

(50) Unselected causative property resultative
     Verbal subevent is:
     a. Motion (subject moves): Bill ran the pavement thin.
     b. Change of property (subject changes): ??
     c. Speech act:                 The professor talked us into a stupor.
                                    Dan yelled himself hoarse.
     d. Bodily function:            Kim cried himself to sleep.
                                    Phil coughed himself into insensibility.
     e. Other directed action:      Dave drank the pub dry.
                                    Carl cooked the pot black.

Although examples can be found for most of these, we are far from certain that the constructions
are fully productive even at this degree of detail.
5.5. Some further combinations. We have already discussed the sound emission resultatives,
where the constructional subevent is spatial and the verbal subevent is sound emission. To
repeat, the connection between the two events is not means, but rather result. Another
combination of this sort might be (51a): note that an appropriate paraphrase is not (51b) but
rather (51c).

(51) a. The witch vanished into the forest.
     b. *The witch went into the forest by vanishing.
     c. *The witch went into the forest and thereby vanished.

We don‟t know how extensive this pattern is.

       Next consider the follow-type cases introduced in section 2. These are distinguished from
everything we have looked at so far by the fact that they are transitive sentences, but the subject
is host of the RP. Semantically they fall into three subtypes (many of these examples are adapted
from Rappaport Hovav and Levin 2001).

Transitive noncausative spatial resultatives
(52) Object is vehicle or path of motion
      a. Bill took/rode the train to New York. (Vehicle)

     b. Bill took/drove the Taconic Parkway to New York. (Path)
(53) Object determines path of motion, either by its own motion or by traces it leaves
     a. Bill followed the thief into the library. (Thief‟s motion determines Bill‟s path)
     b. Bill followed/tracked/traced the leak to its source. (Path of leak‟s outflow determines
         Bill‟s path)
(54) Verb+object together form a predicate
     a. Martha danced mazurkas across the room.
     b. The kids played leapfrog across the park.
     c. John did cartwheels through the crowd.

The first two of these types are similar in that the object determines the subject‟s path one way or
another. At worst, we must introduce a new construction into the repertoire to accommodate
them. What‟s different here is that although the verbal subevent has two arguments, only one is

(55) Transitive noncausative resultative construction
       Syntax:       NP1 V NP2 PP3
       Semantics: X1 GO Path3
However, we might be able to better than this raw stipulation. We might be able to predict the
possibility of this pattern by using the relations among thematic roles in the two subevents and/or
the canonical linking patterns for thematic roles. In particular, the semantics of (55) contains two
distinct Path roles, which usually creates a violation of Argument Realization. However, the
verbs that participate in this particular construction map their Path roles into object position
rather than a PP, so there is no competition in syntax for the two distinct roles as there is in *The
dog padded into the room into a coma, for example (see discussion in section 5.2).

       The third case, (54), is somewhat different. We note first that these are somewhat less
acceptable than (56), where there is no NP object. They are also much better than (57), where the
object has some structure beyond a bare NP.

(56) a. Martha waltzed across the room.
     b. The children leapfrogged across the park.
     c. John cartwheeled through the crowd.
(57) a. * Martha danced mazurkas by Chopin across the room.
     b. * The children played games of leapfrog across the park.
     c. * John did impressive cartwheels through the crowd.

Our sense is that in (54) the verb plus object together form a sort of complex predicate. Once the
object comes to be identified by anything other than its role in the subject‟s action – that is, once
it becomes referential, as in (57) – the resultative is unacceptable. However this distinction may
be formalized, at worst it has to be added to (55) as another type of possible verbal subevent.15

15Rappaport Hovav and Levin 2001 have one further example, John swam laps to exhaustion,
which is a property resultative. Again it is far worse if the object is more elaborate: *John swam
       Don‟t despair. Only two more to go. So far all our cases of argument sharing in
resultatives involve subjects and objects. A different situation arises in a construction discussed
by Levin and Rappaport Hovav 1995 that involves removal:

(58) a.    Woody wiped some crumbs off the table.
     b.    Phyllis filed the serial number off the gun.
     c.    Tom tore a branch off the tree.
     d.    Samantha sawed a leg off the chair.

These are resultatives in the sense that through the subjects‟ agency, the crumbs end up off the
table, the number ends up off the gun, and so on. That is, they contain a subevent identical to
that of the causative resultative. The problem is that the verbal subevent is not as expected: if
anything, Woody didn‟t wipe the crumbs, he wiped the table; Phyllis didn‟t file the serial
number, she filed the gun. Accordingly, L&RH claim these sentences are not instances of the
resultative; rather they are a productive lexical augmentation of verb meaning. From the
constructional view, a “productive lexical augmentation of verb meaning” is the symptom of a
construction: we don‟t want to have to claim these verbs are more polysemous than necessary.

laps of the pool to exhaustion. Moreover, we suspect that the judgment here is infected by the
existence of John swam laps to the point of exhaustion, where the PP is an adjunct: Sue swam
laps until she fainted and John did so to the point of exhaustion. Similar considerations may be
operative in (54a,b), where substitution of the adjunct all the way across the park improves
matters. Moreover, Jackendoff 1990 found examples like (54), but with goal PPs, crashingly
bad: [at best ??]Dave danced waltzes into the room. On the whole, then, everything points to
the marginality of this resultative type.


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