The mental representation and processing of light verbs

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This article gives an overview of our ongoing research on the processing and representation of light verb constructions. Light verb constructions consist of a light verb, which is semantically bleached, and an event nominal, which identifies the kind of event. Together the noun and the verb determine the structure of that event (the number of participants and their roles). Critically, in light verb constructions the canonical mapping from surface syntactic structure to event structure is disrupted. The present studies examine this phenomenon through the lens of language processing. We summarize several behavioral and neurolinguistic studies that show that the interpretation of light verb constructions relies on noncanonical mappings between syntax and semantics, while their syntactic structure is not different from non-light constructions.


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