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The point of talking is to describe the way the world is, the way it changes or stays the same. Verbs play a critical role in that endeavor. Intuitively, verbs (or, more precisely, verb senses) describe categories of situations or events. One sense of eat describes a category of situations in which one entity ingests another one; one sense of believe describes a kind of state humans can be in with respect to a representation (or proposition). Discussing the semantics of verbs amounts to trying to answer several questions, some pertaining to the relation between our cognitive categories and our lexicons, some pertaining to the relation between verb meanings and the morphosyntax of clauses. Here is a list of some of these questions: (1) Do categories of situations named by verb stems or described by sentences fall into natural classes? (2) Can the meaning of verbs be decomposed into smaller components or primitives? (3) How complex can the categories of situations described by a verb stem be? (4) How should we compose the meaning of verbs and their dependents to derive natural classes of situations? (5) Are there constraints on the kind of situation properties that morphosyntax can be sensitive to?
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Koenig, Jean-Pierre (Elsevier, 2006)
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