AuthorStone, Megan Schildmier
AffiliationUniversity of Arizona
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherUniversity of Arizona Linguistics Circle
JournalCoyote Papers: Working Papers in Linguistics, Linguistic Theory at the University of Arizona
AbstractThis paper presents the results of an experiment designed to access native speakers’ underlying grammatical knowledge concerning the passivizability of English Verb-Object (VO) idioms. Although it has long been noted that some VO idioms retain their idiomatic meaning in the passive while others do not (Katz & Postal 1964, et seq.), the source of this variation is unclear, and native speaker intuitions on a large number of idioms are not as clear cut as previous accounts might suggest. Taking as a starting point Folli and Harley’s (2007) hypothesis that there is a structural distinction between passivizable and nonpassivizable idioms, the current study tests one prediction of this hypothesis, namely that there should be a categorical distinction between the two types of idioms in the grammars of native speakers. The experimental results contradict this hypothesis, as evidenced by a normal distribution of response times to passive idioms. However, it is hypothesized that this online task is not appropriate to access the fine-tuned syntactico-semantic judgments underlying native speaker intuitions of idiom passivizability, due to the fact that the methodology employed here—a self-paced reading task—does not yield the expected results even for canonically passivizable and nonpassivizable idioms.