A Head Movement Approach to Talmy’s Typology

Raffaella Folli, Heidi Harley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We propose that the well-known verb-framed/satellite-framed variation observed by Talmy (1975, 1985, 2000) is a true syntactic parameter of a well-understood type: A head movement parameter. We claim that it depends on an uninterpretable feature bundled with the particular v head used in change-of-state constructions that forces the head of the Res(ult)P complement of v to undergo head movement to v in Italian. The technical apparatus employed is a feature-driven head movement parameter, of the same kind that accounts for the familiar V-to-T or T-to-C movement variation crosslinguistically. We argue that in Talmy’s class of verb-framed languages, head movement of the embedded Res head to change-of-state v is mandatory, just as head movement of v to finite T is mandatory in V-to-T movement languages. Unlike previous proposals, this approach does not ascribe a deficiency to verb-framed languages, either in their semantic composition inventory or in their inventory of structural operations, both deficiencie being prima facie implausible from a biolinguistic/Minimalist perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-470
Number of pages46
JournalLinguistic Inquiry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Head movement parameter
  • Manner of directed motion
  • Path
  • Satellite-framed language
  • Telic-pair formation
  • Typology
  • Verb-framed language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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