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Labile Verbs in English: Their Meaning, Behavior and Structure
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

English has many verbs that syntactically occur in both transitive and intransitive clausal patterns. A subset of such verbs are called labile verbs, and these have a causative sense when they occur in the transitive pattern and a non-causative or inchoative sense in the intransitive pattern. Moreover, the object of the transitive pattern corresponds to the subject of the intransitive, e.g. she broke the window / the window broke. There are over 800 labile verbs in Present-day English. The central criterion for distinguishing labile verbs from other similarly alternating verbs is the switch in causativity.

This study is an investigation of the meanings, patterning and behavior of Present-day English labile verbs. It also investigates the development of these verbs historically. Diachronically, the number of labile verbs in English has steadily increased since the Old English period, unlike any of the sister Germanic languages. Labile verbs developed from both transitive and intransitive verbs.

The investigation also attempts to explain the behavior of labile verbs in terms of the notions result- and process-orientation, lexical event structures and compositionality of lexical verbs with clause level constructions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Engelska institutionen , 2006. , 243 p.
Keyword [en]
labile verbs, ergative verbs, transitivity, causative, constructions
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-994ISBN: 91-7155-256-1OAI: diva2:200811
Public defence
2006-06-03, hörsal 9, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 11:00
Available from: 2006-05-12 Created: 2006-05-12Bibliographically approved

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