Making Events Redundant: Adnominal Modification and Phases

In Piotr Stalmaszczyk (ed.), Philosophical and Formal Approaches to Linguistic Analysis. Ontos. pp. 429 (2012)
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In the last two decades, Davidson’s event-argument hypothesis has become very popular in natural language semantics. This article questions that event-based analyses actually add something to our understanding of the respective phenomena: I argue that they already find their explanation in independently motivated grammatical assumptions and principles which apply to all kinds of modification. Apart from a short discussion of Davidson’s original arguments in favour of his hypothesis, I address Larson’s event-based account of the distinctions between stage-level vs. individual-level modification and adverbial vs. adjectival modification in the nominal domain. I argue that his analysis of the former reduces straightforwardly to the grammatical structure of the nominal phase. As for the latter, I provide reasons which motivate a re-description of the phenomenon in terms of sensitivity to descriptive content rather than events. I argue that, so described, the phenomenon can be explained in terms of interface conditions, given a phasal architecture of grammar.
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