This week’s syntax-semantics reading group meeting will take place Wednesday, November 9th at 4pm in room 117. Will will present work, “The verb phrase in Hmong: Serialization and event structure”.
Abstract: Many languages exhibit a phenomenon known as “verb serialization”, in which multiple verbs combine to describe a single event, with one or more shared arguments and with no overt conjunction. One such language is Hmong. In Hmong, many types of complex events can be expressed by serial verb constructions. In this talk, I describe the grammatical properties of three such types: causative constructions, culminating accomplishments, and motion events.
(1) Kuv tsoo lub tais tawg. ‘I smashed the bowl broke.’ (Causative construction)
(2) Kuv nrhiav pom lub pob. ‘I found (≈searched–saw) the ball.’ (Culminating accomplishment)
(3) Kuv khiav mus tajlaj. ‘I ran to (≈ran–went) the market.’ (Motion event)
Building on the description of these three constructions, I situate Hmong in typological perspective and draw comparisons with complex events in other languages. I then offer a formal syntactic/semantic treatment of verb serialization in Hmong (grounded in the conceptual domain known as “event structure”), which takes the first steps towards a complete ‘map’ of the Hmong verb phrase.