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2.2.3.Resultative constructions

This section provides an extensive discussion of the resultative construction. Our focus will be on the verb types that enter this construction. It will be shown that the absence or presence of an internal argument (theme) determines the resulting pattern. The examples in (191) show that if a verb lacks an internal argument, an additional argument functioning as the logical subject of the predicate must be introduced.

a. Jan loopt (*het gras).
  Jan walks     the grass
b. Jan loopt *(het gras) plat.
  Jan walks     the grass  flat

If the verb already has an internal argument, this internal argument may but need not surface as the subject of the resultative predicate; the dollar sign indicates that under normal circumstances the use of the marked adjective would not be expected.

a. Jan veegt de vloer/$bezem.
  Jan sweeps  the floor/broom
b. Jan veegt de vloer schoon/$kapot.
  Jan sweeps  the floor  clean/broken
b'. Jan veegt de bezem kapot/$schoon.
  Jan sweeps  the broom  broken/clean

Verbs with more than one internal argument do not seem to be possible in the resultative construction, but we will show that this may be due to independent reasons. The discussion in this section essentially adopts the analysis given in Hoekstra (1988). Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995:ch.2) provide a number of problems for this proposal based on English, which are, in turn, for a large part countered in Hoekstra (2004:399ff.). We also refer the reader to Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995) for a discussion of a number of semantic approaches to the resultative construction.

[+]  I.  Verbs without an internal argument

This subsection discusses resultative constructions based on main verbs without an internal argument, that is, the intransitive and impersonal verbs from Table 6. The addition of a complementive to such verbs requires that we also add an extra argument that will function as the subject of a complementive. In the case of impersonal verbs the non-referential subject pronoun het'it' must be dropped. The general pattern is therefore as given in (193).

a. Intransitive verbs: NP V ⇒ NP V NP Predicate
b. Impersonal verbs: het V ⇒ NP V Predicate
[+]  A.  Intransitive verbs

Example (194) provides some cases of intransitive verbs with a complementive. The complementive can be adjectival or adpositional in nature. Despite the fact that the object is not an internal argument of the verb, which is clear from the fact that it is only licensed if the complementive is present, it is assigned accusative case by it. This is clear from the fact illustrated by the primed examples that passivization is possible.

Adjectival and adpositional complementives
a. Jan huilde zijn ogen helemaal *(rood).
  Jan cried  his eyes  completely     red
a'. Zijn ogen zijn helemaal rood gehuild.
  his eyes  are  completely  red  cried
b. Jan blies de kruimels *(van de tafel af).
  Jan blew  the crumbs     from the table
b'. De kruimels werden van de tafel af geblazen.
  the crumbs  were  from the table  blown
  'The crumbs were blown from the table.'

In order to enter the construction, the accusative object should not only be able to be part of the set denoted by the complementive, but it should also be plausible that the activity denoted by the verb can have the expressed effect of changing the state this object is in. Although one can imagine that Jan causes his eyes to become red by performing the act of crying, it is much less plausible that he causes another person to become red by performing this activity. Other effects on another person may be conceivable, however, and this accounts for the contrast between the examples in (195a) and (195b).

a. $ Jan huilde Marie helemaal rood.
  Jan cried  Marie completely  red
b. Jan huilde Marie helemaal nat.
  Jan cried  Marie completely  wet

      Particle verbs are often analyzed in a way similar to the resultative constructions in (194). Example (196), for instance, shows that the accusative object requires the particle to be present as well; if the particle is dropped, the object must be dropped as well. It should be noted, however, that it is often not obvious that the particle is predicated of the accusative object given that verb + particle collocations often have a non-compositional meaning. We refer the reader to Section P1.2.4, sub II for a more detailed discussion of this.

Verbal particles
a. De menigte jouwde de spreker *(uit).
  the crowd  jeered  the speaker     prt.
  'The crowd jeered at the speaker.'
b. De hond blafte de postbode *(na).
  the dog  barked  the postman  after
c. Peter werkt de zaak verder *(af).
  Peter works  the case  further    prt.
  'Peter finishes the remainder of the case.'

Combinations that are more or less idiomatically fixed also occur in the case of APs and PPs. Some examples are given in (197) and (198).

a. Zij praten die beslissing goed.
  they  talk  that decision  good
  'They justify that decision.'
b. De rechter spreekt de verdachte vrij.
  the judge  speaks  the suspect  free
  'The judge acquits the suspect.'
c. Zij zwegen die man dood.
  they  kept.silent  that man  dead
  'They ignored that man completely.'
a. Jan werkte Peter [PP de kamer uit].
  Jan worked  Peter  the room  out.of
  'Jan got rid of Peter.'
b. Ze gooide hun geld [PP over de brug].
  they  threw  their money  over the bridge
  'They wasted their money.'

      Special are cases such as (199), in which the additional argument takes the form of a simplex reflexive pronoun that is interpreted co-referentially with the subject of the clause.

a. Jan schreeuwt zich schor.
  Jan shouts  refl  hoarse
b. Jan werkt zich suf.
  Jan works  refl  dull

Although the examples in (199) can be taken literally (Jan is getting hoarse/dull as the result of the activity he is performing), they also allow an interpretation in which they mainly bring aboutan amplifying effect; example (199a) may express that Jan is shouting very loudly or for a long time, and (199b) that Jan is working very hard or even above his powers. Many cases exist that cannot readily be interpreted literally and whose function is thus limited to inducing this amplifying effect, and people are in fact continuously inventing new combinations; some more or less conventional examples are given in (200).

a. Jan lacht zich rot/slap.
  Jan laughs  refl  rotten/weak
  'Jan is laughing himself silly.'
b. Jan werkt zich te pletter/uit de naad.
  Jan works  refl  to pieces/out of  the seam
  'Jan is working terribly hard.'

Example (201) suggests that it is possible in this amplifying reading to use a wide range of nominal phrases, which is normally impossible in resultative constructions; cf. Section 2.2.1, sub II.

Hij lacht zich een aap/breuk/ongeluk/kriek.
  he  laughs  refl  monkey/fracture/accident/kriek
'He laughs himself silly.'

It seems doubtful, however, that we are dealing with nominal complementives in (201). Whereas the examples in (200) imply that the reflexive accusative object (and hence the subject of the clause) becomes part of the set denoted by the AP or PP (albeit that the property is more or less metaphorically construed), this is not the case in (201a); it is not claimed that the subject of the clause is becoming a monkey, a fracture, an accident or whatever kriek may denote, but rather that a monkey, fracture, an accident or a kriekcomes intoexistence as the result of performing the act of laughing; in this respect, (201) is just like the regular transitive construction Jan bouwde een huis, which expresses that the house is coming into existence as the result of performing the act of building. In short, the nominal construction in (201) resembles double object constructions like Marie sloeg Jan een blauw oog'Marie punched Jan and thus gave him a black eye', in which the noun phrase een blauw oog again does not function as a complementive but as a direct object that refers to an entity that comes into existence as the result of the activity denoted by the verb slaan'to hit'.
      Another structurally similar example, which lacks the amplification effect, is given in (202a). That the noun phrase een kasteel in this example does not function as a complementive but as a direct object is clear from the fact that the past/passive participle can at least marginally be used attributively in the (b)-example; Section 2.1.2, sub IIID, has shown that attributive use of past participles is only possible if the modified noun corresponds to the internal argument of the input verb of the participles. We will return to the use of the simplex reflexive in (201a) in Section 2.5.2, sub II.

a. Peter droomde zich een kasteel.
  Peter dreamed  refl  a castle
b. ? het gedroomde kasteel
  the  dreamed  castle

Observe further that the double object construction in (201) should not be confused with those in (203). In these constructions the simplex reflexive zich functions as an inalienable possessor of the nominal complement and not as the subject of the predicatively used PP; cf. Section These cases are therefore regular resultative constructions. Confusingly, these examples are also most naturally interpreted with an amplifying reading, but this also holds for the synonymous resultative construction in (203b'), which does not involve a reflexive possessor but a possessive personal pronoun.

a. Hij lacht zich de tranen in de ogen.
  he  laughs  refl  the tears  in the eyes
  'He laughs like mad.'
b. Hij schreeuwde *(zich) de longen uit het lijf.
  he  shouted    refl  the lungs  out.of  the body
  'He shouted extremely loud.'
b'. Hij schreeuwde de longen uit zijn lijf.
  he  shouted  the lungs  out.of  his body
  'He shouted extremely loud.'

      We conclude this subsection with a brief discussion of motion verbs like lopen'to walk' and rennen'to run', subsection IIB3 will show that these verbs pattern like unaccusative verbs if they take a spatial complementive. Here we want to show, however, that they may also behave like regular intransitive verbs. The examples in (204a-c) show that the addition of a complementive requires the presence of an additional argument. Example (204c') shows that the PP can readily be replaced by a particle (provided that the object is inanimate).

a. Jan loopt zijn schoenen *(kapot).
  Jan walks  his shoes     broken
b. Marie reed het kind *(dood).
  Marie drove  the child    dead
c. Jan reed Marie *(naar huis).
  Jan drove  Marie    to home
c'. Jan reed de auto/?Marie *(weg).
  Jan drove  the car/Marie     away

As in the case of the other intransitive verbs, the construction with a simplex reflexive can be used to amplify the activity denoted by the verb. Example (205a) is again ambiguous between a resultative and an amplifying reading, whereas (205b) is most naturally construed with an amplifying reading. For completeness' sake, (205c) provides an example of the non-resultative nominal construction of the type in (201).

a. Jan rent zich suf/te pletter.
  Jan runs  refl  dull/to smithereens
b. Jan rent zich rot/uit de naad.
  Jan runs  refl  rotten/out of the seam
c. Jan loopt zich een ongeluk/het apelazarus.
  Jan walks  refl  an accident/the apelazarus
  'Jan walks his legs off.'

The examples in (206) are again resultative constructions in which the simplex reflexive acts as the inalienable possessor of the complement of the PP. These examples are again most naturally interpreted with an amplifying reading, but this also holds for the synonymous resultative constructions in the primed examples with a prenominal possessive pronoun.

a. Jan loopt zich de benen uit het lijf.
  Jan walks  refl  the legs  out.of  the body
  'Jan is walking his legs off.'
a'. Jan loopt de benen uit zijn lijf.
  Jan walks  the legs  out.of  his body
b. Jan loopt zich het vuur uit de sloffen.
  Jan walks  refl  the fire  out.of his mules
  'Jan is wearing himself out.'
b'. Jan loopt het vuur uit zijn sloffen.
  Jan walks  the fire  out.of  his mules
[+]  B.  Impersonal (weather) verbs

Weather verbs typically occur with the non-referential subject pronoun het'it'; the primeless examples in (207) show that referential subjects like de jongen'the boy' or zijn vingers'his fingers' are normally excluded. The primed examples show, however, that a referential subject becomes possible if a complementive is added. The complementive can be either an adjectival or an adpositional phrase.

a. Het/*De jongen regent.
  it/the boy  rains
a'. De jongen regent nat.
  the boy  rains  wet
b. Het vriest/*Zijn vingers vriezen.
  it freezes/his fingers  freeze
b'. Zijn vingers vriezen van zijn handen af.
  his fingers  freeze  from his hand  af

If weather verbs were regular intransitive verbs, the findings of Subsection A would lead us to expect that the logical subject of the complementive surfaces as an accusative noun phrase, as in (208). The ungrammaticality of these examples can therefore be taken as evidence in favor of the idea that the pronoun het is not an external argument of the weather verb but just an expletive filling the subject position.

a. * Het regent de jongen nat.
  it  rains  the boy  wet
b. * Het vriest zijn vingers van zijn handen af.
  it  freezes  the fingers  from his hands  af

A potential objection to our claim that the pronoun het is not an external argument of the verb is that, as Subsection IIB3, will show, intransitive motion verbs alternate with unaccusative motion verbs; Jan heeft gewandeld'Jan has walked' versus Jan is naar Groningen gewandeld'Jan has walked to Groningen'. We may therefore be dealing with a similar alternation in (207). This possibility cannot be dismissed out of hand, but it should be pointed out that the verb frame alternation in question is normally restricted to motion verbs; the burden of proof therefore seems to be on those who would wish to claim that the weather verbs exhibit a similar alternation. Empirical evidence for this is, however, hard to find. Given that het is non-referential, it is clearly not agentive either, and this implies that the sufficient tests for claiming intransitive status for the weather verbs will fail for independent reasons: agentive er-nominalization is excluded (*regener'rain-er') because it requires the subject of the verb to be agentive, and the same thing holds for impersonal passivization (*Er wordt geregend).
      That the resultative constructions in the primed examples in (207) are unaccusative and consequently involve a DO-subject is clear from the following facts: (i) the verbs take the auxiliary zijn in the perfect tense (whereas they take hebben if no complementive is present), (ii) the construction does not allow impersonal passivization, and (iii) the past participle can be used attributively to modify a noun corresponding to the subject of the corresponding clause. This is illustrated in (209) for example (207a').

a. De jongen is/*heeft nat geregend.
cf. Het heeft/*is geregend
  the boy  is/has  wet  rained
b. * Er wordt door de jongen nat geregend.
  there is  by the boy  wet  rained
b'. de nat geregende jongen
  the  wet  rained  boy

We can safely conclude from this that it is safe to conclude that in the primed examples in (207) the subject of the complementive has been moved into the subject position of the clause, and thus voids the need of to insert the expletive het. This is schematically represented in (210).

a. ____ regent ⇒ Het regent
het insertion
  rains  it  rains
b. ____ regent [de jongen nat] ⇒ De jongeni regent [ti nat]
  rains   the boy  wet  the boy  rains wet

      Since the pronoun het is not referential, it cannot be the antecedent of the simplex reflexive zich; example (211a) shows that as a result, the amplifying reflexive construction is not possible. The (b)-examples show that this construction is not possible with a DO-subject either but this is for different reasons. Example (211b) is unacceptable because the noun phrase Jan is not licensed; it neither functions as an argument of the verb nor as an argument of the complementive (which takes zich as its subject). And example (211b'), in which Jan and zich could in principle be licensed as subjects of, respectively, suf'dull' and nat'wet', is ungrammatical because a clause may contain one complementive at the most; see Section 2.2.1, sub IV.

a. * Het regent zich suf/te pletter.
  it  rains  refl  dull/to smithereens
b. * Jan regent zich suf/te pletter.
  Jan  rains  refl  dull/to smithereens
b'. * Jan regent zich suf nat.
  Jan  rains  refl  dull  wet

For completeness' sake, we want to mention the resultative construction in (212a). This example is exceptional in that the verb vriezen'to freeze' seems to take an external (agentive) subject; this suggestion is confirmed by the fact that passivization, as in (212b), is possible. Given that the subject pronoun ze'they' in (212a) functions as an external argument, we correctly predict that this example must contain an additional accusative argument that functions as the subject of the complementive.

a. In deze fabriek vriezen ze groente droog.
  in this factory  freeze  they  vegetables  dry
  'In this factory, they are freeze-drying vegetables.'
b. In deze fabriek wordt groente droog gevroren.
  in this factory  is  vegetables  dry  freeze
[+]  II.  Verbs with one internal argument

This subsection discusses resultative constructions with verbs that normally take an internal argument, that is, the transitive and monadic unaccusative verbs in Table 6 from Section 2.1.6. In contrast to what is the case with verbs without an internal argument, the addition of a complementive does not have the result that an additional noun phrase is added; see Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995: Section 2.1). The subject of the complementive often corresponds to the internal argument of the transitive verb but this is not necessarily the case. The general pattern is therefore as given in (213), in which the indexes on the NPs indicate that the subject of the complementive can be either identical to the one that we find in the non-resultative construction or different.

a. transitive verbs: NP V NPi ⇒ NP V NPi/j Predicate
b. unaccusative verbs: NPi V ⇒ NPi/j V Predicate

The fact that the noun phrase that the complementive is predicated of may but need not correspond to the internal argument of the main verb raises the question as to what the relation between the verb and that noun phrase is.

[+]  A.  Transitive verbs

This subsection discusses resultative constructions based on transitive verbs. We will begin by showing that the verbs entering this construction cannot denote achievements, subsections 2 to 4 will investigate the relation between the verb and the direct object in more detail and will show that despite the fact that the verb assigns accusative case to the object, the latter cannot be considered an argument of the former: the object is semantically selected by the complementive. We conclude with a discussion of resultative constructions in which the object has the form of a simplex reflexive and a number of other more special cases.

[+]  1.  The verb cannot be an accomplishment

Transitive verbs may enter the resultative construction if they denote an activity, as in (214), but not if they denote an accomplishment, as in (215). This contrast is due to the fact that complementives introduce a unique point of termination of the event, namely, the point at which the object reaches the state denoted by the complementive. Since activities and accomplishments differ by definition with respect to whether they inherently express such a point of termination, the contrast between (214) and (215) can be accounted for by assuming that complementives can only be added if the verb itself does not inherently express a point of termination, that is, if the verb denotes an activity.

a. De soldaten bombarderen de stad (plat).
  the soldiers bomb  the city   flat
b. Marie sloeg de hond (dood).
  Marie beat  the dog   dead
c. Jan verft zijn haar (zwart).
  Jan dyes  his hair   black
a. De soldaten vernietigen de stad (*plat).
  the soldiers  destroy  the city     flat
b. De illusionist hypnotiseert de vrijwilliger (*stil).
  the magician  hypnotizes  the volunteer   silent

The generalization that accomplishment verbs cannot occur in resultative constructions can be unified with our earlier generalization in Section 2.2.1, sub IV, that clauses cannot contain more than one complementive by adopting the following natural assumption: clauses include at most one point of termination of the event.

[+]  2.  The accusative object is not an argument of the verb

This subsection argues that the accusative object of the resultative construction is not an argument of the verb, but of the complementive. That this is not at all evident will be clear from the examples in (216) and (217). The examples in (216) show that transitive verbs like malen'to grind', prakken'to mash' and vegen'to sweep' select a direct object that denotes the theme of the activity; if the direct object refers to, e.g., an instrument that is used in performing the activity, the examples become unacceptable.

a. Jan maalt het meelTheme/*de molensteenInstrument.
  Jan grinds  the flour/the millstone
b. Jan prakt zijn aardappelsTheme/*zijn vorkInstrument.
  Jan mashes  his potatoes/his fork
c. Jan veegt de vloerTheme/*de bezemInstrument.
  Jan sweeps  the floor/the broom

The same restriction holds for the resultative constructions in (217). Note that the judgments only hold for the interpretations indicated by the subscripts; each of the noun phrases marked by an asterisk can also be interpreted as a theme, which gives rise to a marked result in (216a&b) for reasons related to our knowledge of the world but which is easily possible in (216c).

a. Jan maalt het meelTheme/*de molensteenInstrument fijn.
  Jan grinds  the flour/the millstone  fine
b. Jan prakt zijn aardappelsTheme/*zijn vorkInstrument door de groente.
  Jan mashes  his potatoes/his fork  through the vegetables
c. Jan veegt de vloerTheme/*de bezemInstrument schoon.
  Jan sweeps  the floor/the broom  clean

The correspondence between the examples in (216) and (217) thus seems to suggest that the verb also imposes semantic selection restrictions on the accusative noun phrase that functions as the subject of the complementive. This hypothesis is refuted, however, by the examples in (218), in which the accusative object corresponds to the instrument rather than the theme of the verb; this will be clear from the fact that the acceptability judgments on these examples are reversed if the complementive is omitted; cf. (216).

a. Jan maalt de molensteen/*het meel kapot.
  Jan grinds  the millstone/the flour  broken
b. Jan prakt zijn vork/*zijn aardappels krom.
  Jan mashes  his fork/his potatoes  crooked
c. Jan veegt de bezem/?de vloer