Verbal prefixation, construction grammar, and semantic compatibility: Evidence from the locative alternation in Polish

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  • Wojciech Lewandowski
This paper aims to analyze the interaction between prefixes, verbs,
and abstract argument structure constructions, using as a testing ground the
locative alternation. It has been assumed that in order to participate in the
locative alternation, a verb must specify a manner of motion from which a
change of state can be obtained (see, for instance, Steven Pinker’s Learnability
and cognition, 1989). However, this generalization does not take into account the argument structure effects involved in verbal prefixation in Slavic where some change-of-location verbs can appear in the change-of-state variant, when
headed by a resultative prefix. In Olbishevska’s generative-derivational analysis
of the locative alternation in Russian, it is claimed that resultative prefixes are
derivational morphemes subcategorizing for a location argument. While I agree
that it is the resultative prefix that makes the alternation possible, I propose that
it is not the case that a new verb with a different argument structure is derived
by means of prefixation, but rather that it is the verb that integrates into the
prefixed change-of-state variant. I analyze the change-of-state variant in the
spirit of Goldberg’s Construction Grammar and Langacker’s Cognitive Grammar
approach and show that resultative prefixes are not abstract syntactic features,
but rather that each prefixed change-of-state construction is based on a specific
configuration between the locatum and the location. I demonstrate that the
interaction between resultative prefixes, alternating verbs, and the more abstract
change-of-state variant is driven by semantic coherence.
Keywords: resultative prefixes, construction grammar, semantic coherence, locative alternation, Polish
Original languageEnglish
JournalFolia Linguistica
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)175-206
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ID: 179170219