ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000 Semantic Constraints

The weakest point of the constructional approach is to determine in a principled way which verbs participate in the construction, and which are excluded. If that cannot be done and it is shown that there is a great amount of lexical idiosyncrasy, it will be necessary to revert back to lexical stipulation. It is no surprise, then, that Goldberg devotes a great deal of attention to try to account for the apparent lexical peculiarities present in the following pairs of examples:

(6.110) a. Pat coaxed him into the room.
a. * Pat encouraged him into the room.
(6.111) a. He hit the ball over the fence.

b. * He struck the ball over the fence.

(6.112) a. Please chop the kindling into the bin provided for it.
b. ?? Please don’t chop the kindling onto the rug.

(6.113) a. Pat asked him into the room.
b. * Pat begged him into the room.

She tries to give a principled account of these examples by means of semantic constraints on the construction.

The first constraint applies to the causer argument of the caused-motion construction. It can either be an agent or a natural force:

(6.114) Chris pushed the piano up the stairs.

(6.115) The wind blew the ship off course.

(6.116) The rain swept the ring into the gutter.

It cannot be an instrument:
(6.117) a. * The hammer broke the vase into pieces.

b. * The hammer broke the vase onto the floor.
b. The hammer broke the vase.
(6.118) a. * His cane helped him into the car.

b. His cane helped him get around.
However, example (6.58) in section 6.1, reproduced here again, is a counterexample to this constraint:
(6.119) The organ played the congregation out. (Collins English Spanish Dictionary)
It presents an instrument with the construction, contradicting what Goldberg claims.

Goldberg also postulates several constraints related to the direct causation that seems to be present in the construction. The first one is a constraint against any verb that implies that a cognitive decision mediates between the causing event and the entailed motion. This constraint explains why verbs like convince, persuade, instruct and encourage do not appear in the caused-motion construction:

(6.120) * Sam convinced/persuaded/encouraged/instructed him into the room.
Even when they can appear in the infinitival construction:
(6.121) Sam convinced/persuaded/encouraged/instructed him to go into the room.
These verbs entail that the entity denoted by the direct object makes a cognitive decision. Verbs without that entailment, like frighten, coax and lure, can appear in the construction:
(6.122) Sam frightened Bob out of the house.

(6.123) Sam coaxed him into the room.

(6.124) Sam lured him into the room.

Goldberg states the constraint as follows: "No cognitive decision can mediate between the causing event and the entailed motion" (167).

A similar constraint rules out sentences like the following:

(6.125) * Sam begged Joe into the room

(6.126) * Sam pleaded Joe into the room

In these sentences, the final decision on whether the motion will take place lies in the participant occupying the object position. This is in contrast to:
(6.127) Sam asked Joe into the room
In this example, if the conditions of satisfaction are met the theme argument will move on the specified path.

Another semantic constraint involves verbs like hit and strike, which pattern differently with regard to this construction, as Jackendoff (1990) had noticed:

(6.128) He hit the ball across the field.

(6.129) * He struck the ball across the field.

Slap, smack, whack and knock behave like hit, while assault, sock, spank, clobber, slash, bludgeon, and impact pattern like strike. Goldberg attributes the contrast to a difference between the two classes whereby in the class represented by strike the object is affected in a way different from motion, whereas in the other class the object is either unaffected, or affected in a way that involves motion.

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ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000