Committee: Richard Kayne (co-chair), Liina Pylkkänen (co-chair), Chris Barker, Alec Marantz, Marcel den Dikken
Theories of lexical semantics and syntactic decomposition usually make a distinction between the role of the 'idiosyncratic' lexical component of words, the 'constant' or 'root', and that of the functional elements which are shared between different members of a word class. Understanding the properties of such lexical building blocks is central to our understanding of language. However, most work thus far has focused on the functional building blocks. In particular, there has been little work addressing the formal semantics of lexical roots. In this dissertation, I focus on a particular class of verbs, implicit creation verbs, and argue that these are derived from roots which denote predicates of individuals. These verbs are contrasted with verbs derived from roots of different types, toward the goal of developing a complete ontology of roots. I argue that many of the generalizations derived in other work from syntactic categories can in fact be derived from semantic root type. The analysis presented for the compositional construction of verbs has consequences for the nature of lexical decomposition, the analysis of resultative secondary predicates, the analysis of verb particles, and the relationship between syntactic and semantic categories.