Heidi Harley
In Handbook of Compositionality, edited by Wolfram Hinzen, Markus Werning and Edouard Machery, p. 328-350. Oxford: OUP.
Publication year: 2012
Modern syntactic theories have largely accepted that a complex syntactic structure is concealed within the constituent formerly labelled ‘VP’ —minimally vP+VP (Chomsky 1995). Many theorists ascribe semantic content to the v° head along the lines of Dowty (1979)’s CAUSE or BECOME operators, effectively bringing back the Generative Semantics proposal that (some) verbs that appear to be atoms actually contain embedded predications (CAUSEv X to DIEV, for example, for ‘kill’). In this paper, arguments from English in favor of this position are reviewed, and replies made to Fodor 1971’s famous arguments against this position. Then some developments of the theory are outlined, including arguments for a syntactically present but null HAVE predicate in verbs like give, get, and want. Nonetheless, the specifics of these analyses do not challenge the funadmentals of the atomistic debate; consequently, the atomistic position is in principle compatible with the degree of lexical decomposition outlined here.