Echoic Verbs as Means of Expressing Semelfactive/Multiplicative Meanings in Contemporary English
Keywords:semantics, semelfactive meaning, multiplicative meaning, echoic verb, predicate
The article discusses the problem of semelfactive and multiplicative verbs in contemporary English. We state that most of semelfactive/multiplicative verbs are of sound-imitating origin. On the basis of four dictionaries (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (2003), Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English (2000), Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language (2008), Webster Universal College Dictionary (1997)), 285 echoic verbs were singled out. Our intention was to study the echoic verbs as the main means of expressing either semelfactive or multiplicative, or both, meanings according to the context within the framework of Smith’s (1997) theory of aspect in which five situation types, namely states, activities, achievements, accomplishments, and semelfactives are distinguished. The results of the research contribute to the study of verbal plurality in English. According to the suggested semantic classification, the analyzed verbs were subdivided into three main groups: echoic verbs denoting a sound, the source of which is a person, a thing or nature. The results of the empirically-based study are reflected in the quantitative analysis of the English echoic verbs, which concludes that verbs denoting sounds caused by a thing are used most frequently, verbs denoting sounds produced by a living being are used more seldom, and verbs denoting sounds of nature are least commonly used. Echoic verbs can also be used as part of light verb constructions, where the singular form of a deverbal noun indicates a semelfactive meaning, while the plural form expresses a multiplicative one.
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