Raffaella Folli, Heidi Harley
in Roumyana Slabakova and Paula Kempchinsky, eds., Aspectual Inquiries, 95-120. Dordrecht: Kluwer
Publication year: 2004

The variable behavior of verbs has always been a fundamental issue for theories of the lexicon/syntax interface. The constructionalist approaches to this problem of the past decade or so have been very successful in accounting for a diverse range of alternations, largely because these approaches have formalized the influence of event structure on argument projection. However, the framework in some ways suffers from overgeneration: having introduced syntactic flexibility with respect to certain classes of alternating verbs, theorists are now faced with the inverse problem of accounting for gaps in alternation patterns. In short, why don’t all verbs exhibit all alternation patterns freely? We treat a particular kind of a restriction on alternations by proposing that it depends on differences in v, rather than on idiosyncratic restrictions on the root V. In particular, we argue that at least one particular kind of gap in alternation can be attributed to the semantic properties of one flavour of v: DO. We argue that a new typology of v is needed to account for the behavior of consumption verbs, when they take an inanimate subject. These verbs, unlike non- alternating destroy-class verbs, do not generally allow inanimate agents. Compare (1a,c) with (1b,d)