How to obtain a copula from a process verb: Insights from the event structure of posture verbs

Diana Gómez-Vázquez, Jaume Mateu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Posture verbs (sit, stand, lie) seem to constitute an aspectual class of their own, as they do not readily fit the description of either states or activities. The contradicting results obtained from applying various diagnostic tests, which group posture verbs with either states or activities depending on the test’s sensitivity, have led to the creation of additional classes of states, namely, interval states (Dowty 1979) and Davidsonian states (Maienborn 2005), to account for the particular nature of the events denoted by these verbs. These approaches leave unanswered why equivalent verbs such as sentar ‘sit’ in Spanish, a Romance language, but also setzen ‘sit’ in German, a Germanic language, cannot denote stationary motion by themselves. This paper proposes that it is not necessary to introduce additional types of events to account for the lexical aspectual properties of posture verbs in English. Instead, it is their basic aspectual make-up, that is, their having a single process subevent (procP) (Ramchand 2008), and the labile nature of English that can explain their recalcitrant properties and the cross-linguistic issues they raise, while at the same time offering a seamless explanation for the propensity of posture verbs to become copulas cross-linguistically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-40
Number of pages40
JournalGlossa: A journal of General Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2022


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