The Argument Structure of Experience: Experiential Constructions in Early Vedic, Homeric Greek and Early Latin


  •  We would like to thank the audience at the Workshop on Variation and Change in Argument Realization in Naples and Capri for their feedback after our talk there as well as Jóhanna Barðdal, Michela Cennamo, Pierluigi Cuzzolin, Serena Danesi, Tonya Kim Dewey and three anonymous reviewers for commenting on earlier versions of this paper, thereby significantly enhancing its final form. Of course, all responsibility for any remaining weaknesses, theoretical as well as philological, remains our own. Through the generosity of the Fondation Colette Caillat of the Institut de France Eystein Dahl enjoyed free housing during a three-month research visit to Paris from October to December 2011, during which parts of this paper reached their present form, for which he hereby wishes to express his sincere gratitude. This contribution is the result of fruitful discussions and inspiring collaboration between the authors over the last few years. Chiara Fedriani wrote the main parts of sections 2, 3.1 and 3.2 and Eystein Dahl the main parts of sections 1, 3.3 and 4.

Eystein Dahl
Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies (LLE)
University of Bergen
Postboks 7805
5007 Bergen - Norway

Chiara Fedriani
Dipartimento di Scienze dei linguaggi, della comunicazione e degli studi culturali
piazzetta Verzeri 1 - 24129 Bergamo - Italia


In this paper we investigate different types of argument-structure constructions associated with so-called experiential predicates in Early Vedic, Homeric Greek and Early Latin. We argue that the broad range of argument-realisation patterns associated with experiential verbs in these languages reflects the fact that experiential predicates differ in fundamental respects from prototypically transitive verbs which we take to represent the perhaps most salient verb type in natural language. We survey the most important construction types attested in the domain of experience in the languages under scrutiny with particular regard to recurrent paths of association between experiential verb classes and their argument-realisation options. Finally, on the basis of our data we provide some proposals regarding the main tendencies in the linguistic organisation of this complex functional domain in Proto-Indo-European.