Volltext-Downloads (blau) und Frontdoor-Views (grau)

The interaction between telicity and agentivity: Experimental evidence from intransitive verbs in German and Chinese

  • Telicity and agentivity are semantic factors that split intransitive verbs into (at least two) different classes. Clear-cut unergative verbs, which select the auxiliary HAVE, are assumed to be atelic and agent-selecting; unequivocally unaccusative verbs, which select the auxiliary BE, are analyzed as telic and patient-selecting. Thus, agentivity and telicity are assumed to be inversely correlated in split intransitivity. We will present semantic and experimental evidence from German and Mandarin Chinese that casts doubts on this widely held assumption. The focus of our experimental investigation lies on variation with respect to agentivity (specifically motion control, manipulated via animacy), telicity (tested via a locative vs. goal adverbial), and BE/HAVE-selection with semantically flexible intransitive verbs of motion. Our experimental methods are acceptability ratings for German and Chinese (Experiments 1 and 2) and event-related potential (ERP) measures for German (Experiment 3). Our findings contradict the above-mentioned assumption that agentivity and telicity are generally inversely correlated and suggest that for the verbs under study, agentivity and telicity harmonize with each other. Furthermore, the ERP measures reveal that the impact of the interaction under discussion is more pronounced on the verb lexeme than on the auxiliary. We also found differences between Chinese and German that relate to the influence of telicity on BE/HAVE-selection. They seem to confirm the claim in previous research that the weight of the telicity factor locomotion (or internal motion) is cross-linguistically variable.

Export metadata

Additional Services

Share in Twitter Search Google Scholar


Author:Tim Graf, Markus PhilippGND, Xiaonan XuGND, Franziska KretzschmarGND, Beatrice PrimusORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Lingua
Place of publication:Amsterdam
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2017
Date of Publication (online):2021/01/07
Tag:agentivity; animacy; auxiliary selection; event-related brain potentials; motion verbs; telicity
GND Keyword:Bewegungsverb; Chinesisch; Deutsch; Experimentelle Psychologie; Hilfsverb; Intransitives Verb; Psycholinguistik
First Page:84
Last Page:106
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 400 Sprache, Linguistik
Open Access?:ja
Linguistics-Classification:Psycholinguistik / Kognitive Linguistik
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International