How transitive are 'eat' and 'drink' verbs?

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This paper examines the transitivity properties of <i>eat</i> and <i>drink</i> verbs crosslinguistically, and shows that they tend not to pattern with prototypical transitive verbs, but show various properties characteristic of intransitives. This is explained in terms of the transitivity model developed in Næss (2007), where a prototypical transitive clause is defined as a clause showing maximal semantic distinction between the agent and patient in terms of their role in the event. A core semantic characteristic of <i>eat</i> and <i>drink </i>verbs is having an affected agent: eating and drinking are acts performed by an agent in order to achieve an effect on himself. Since affected agents are not maximally semantically distinct from patients, <i>eat</i> and<i> drink</i> verbs are not prototypically transitive.


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