Creating Surprise in Complex Predication

  • Anna-Lena Wiklund CASTL, University of Tromsø
Keywords: aspect, complex predicate, inceptive, light verb, surprise reading


In many languages, the verbs take and go may combine with another predicate to yield an inceptive reading, where the onset of the event denoted by the main predicate is in some sense focalized. Some of these cases have a touch of surprise, unexpectedness, or suddenness to them. Using data mainly from Swedish, this paper seeks to identify the components that are responsible for this surprise reading. It is argued that surprise in the relevant constructions is derivable from a combination of three factors: (i) the particular event structure(s) associated with the predicates involved, (ii) choice of lexicalization of this structure, and (iii) pragmatic inferences about the particular event involved. The data presented in this paper offer support for Ramchand’s (2008) treatment of light verbs in terms of underassociation of lexical category features and constraints thereon.