Depictives in Ossetic and Cross-Linguistic Variation in Modification by Depictives

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Depictives are adjectival phrases that modify a participant without forming a constituent with it (1).

Semantics and morphological marking of depictives are well studied crosslinguistically, see e.g. Schultze-Berndt & Himmelmann (2004, 2005) and Schroeder et al. (2008). The question of what participants can be modified by a depictive has been studied much less. A number of proposals have been advanced, nevertheless, as to how the relationship is established between a depictive and a noun phrase it modifies (its host), see e.g. Rothstein (1985); Bowers (1993); Marušič et al (2003: 2008); Richardson(2007);Pylkkänen (2010); and You (2016).

In my talk, I will overview these proposals and present data from Ossetic (two closely related Iranian languages spoken in the Caucasus), where any verb argument, but no adjunct, can be modified by a depictive. I will show that the same constraints apply to DPs that are able to bind anaphors in Ossetic, and propose that the relationship between a host and a depictive in Ossetic is that of anaphoric binding.

I will proceed to argue that while it probably unrealistic to expect cross-linguistically uniform syntax of depictives, it is possible to find principled restrictions on cross-linguistic variation in this domain. I will propose that cross-linguistically, the relation between a depictive and its host can be established either by adjunction of the depictive phrase to the host DP or through anaphoric binding.
Original languageEnglish GB
Title of host publicationGK Colloquium: Nominal Modification
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 28 Feb 2020


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