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A Study of Light Verb Semantics under Force Dynamic Schema

Author: LiJiaoZhi
Tutor: ChenLiPing
School: Nanjing Normal University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: light verbs LVCs force dynamic schema thematic role aspects
CLC: H314
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2013
Downloads: 32
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Light verbs have been considered as having no lexical meaning in many researches, and they are taken as purely functional in syntactical studies. However, much current work shows that there are semantic factors underlying the functions of light verbs. This thesis intends to give an account of the meaning of four typical English light verbs in LVCs: give, take, have, and make. It tries to find out what is the connection between those light verbs and their simple verb counterparts, and furthermore, to discover how the meaning of light verb influences the whole construction. The meaning researched in this study should not be limited to distinguishable meaning components, but rather should be perceived as cognitive structures. This research is built upon Talmy’s theory of force dynamic schema. By including force as a member of semantic category, his theory offers a good explanation to several language levels in terms of force interactions. Two main principles to be used in this study is that there is a metaphor between physical and psychological domains in our understanding; and that language constructions in the psychological domain can be understood as interactions of forces in the physical domain. Therefore, this study starts the analysis by giving a detailed account of force schemata of the four simple verbs in the physical world. This includes the number of entities involved and the features of the force applied. Then a mapping will be built between these simple verbs and light verbs, so as to show how qualities of LVCs can be explained through this inter-connection. It reaches three conclusions:(1) The meaning of a light verb is its cognitive structure that originates in its uses in the physical domain;(2) The connection between light verb and its simple verb exists in the structural metaphor from the physical world to the psychological world;(3) Light verb is one of the main contributors to the configuration and aspectual property of the whole construction. The source and direction of force decides such thematic roles as AGENT, PATIENT, and EXPERIENCER, among others. And the duration of force influences the aspectual types of the construction.

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