L-syntax and phono-symbolism: On the status of ideophones in complex predicates

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4 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, the author demonstrates that verbal compound constructions involving an ideophone and a light verb represent a widespread syntactic device in the world’s languages. The author provides evidence that phono-symbolic morphemes cannot be treated as ‘bare’ direct objects in such constructions. Ideophones appearing in the light verb-adjacent position form a semantic unit with the verbal predicate, despite the fact that in some languages they can be syntacticized as (bare) nouns and appear in argumental position. Specifically, ideophones in complex predicates are part of the verbal domain with which they ‘blend’ (yielding a single predicate) through the mechanism of conflation, along the lines of Hale and Keyser (1993, 2002), and building on Ramchand (2008).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-279
Number of pages37
JournalCanadian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Complex predicates
  • Ideophones
  • Internal arguments
  • L-syntax
  • Light verbs


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