Degree achievements, telicity and the verbal prefix meN- in Malay

Hooi Ling Soh, Hiroki Nomoto

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2 Scopus citations


One issue in the analysis of degree achievements is whether or not what are called degree achievements are in fact achievements (Hay, Kennedy & Levin 1999, Kearns 2007, Rothstein 2008a). In this paper, we offer evidence from Malay that they are. Our evidence involves findings about the aspectual effect of the verbal prefix meN- in degree achievement sentences, which may receive a natural account under an approach where degree achievements are lexically specified as achievements, but are difficult to explain if they are not. We propose that meN- merges with a verbal projection (VP) that describes eventualities with stages, in the sense of Landman (1992, 2008). This requirement explains meN-'s apparent effect on telicity in degree achievement sentences and the absence of such an effect in non-degree achievement sentences. It also accounts for the restricted distribution of meN- in stative sentences (Soh & Nomoto 2009) and regular achievement sentences. While certain aspectual parallels exist between the verbal prefix meN- and the English progressive, we argue that meN- is not a progressive marker, and that the parallels with the English progressive are due to the subcategorization requirement of meN-, which makes event stages more prominent in sentences with meN- compared to ones without. Our analysis supports the treatment of meN- as a light verb (v) (Aldridge 2008; Nomoto 2008, 2011; Sato 2012), rather than a marker of voice (Voice) (Cole, Hermon & Yanti 2008).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-183
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Linguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 7 2015

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014


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