Variable-behavior Ps and the location of PATH in Old French

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This paper investigates the interaction between lexical semantics and syntactic structure in the interpretation of prepositional phrases through a study of the lexical encoding of directionality in prepositions and particles in Old French (OF). OF had a series of locative and directional prepositions that could be used intransitively, where they were interpreted directionally or aspectually. We argue that the different interpretations available to these elements are a result of the syntactic configurations into which they are placed, not a systematic homophony in the lexicon. We first show that, for each element in the class under consideration, its interpretation can be predicted based on its transitivity properties and the type of verb with which it is paired. We then present our analysis of the OF prepositional system, and show how the lexical semantics of individual particles and general rules of composition conspire to create the semantic variation found in our data.


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