Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Laura Michaelis

Second Advisor

Barbara Fox

Third Advisor

Mans Hulden


This is the story of a markedness contrast between between two verbal complementation patterns, each of which appears to indicate a speaker's perspective on a change of situation. We suggest that the marked member of the contrast, which we will refer to as the start not or SNX pattern, indicates the decision of a speaker to focus attention on the onset of a new, revocable situation rather than on the cessation of a prior situation. The change of situation as expressed by the marked pattern, we believe, is characterized by the undesired cessation of some activity, state, or habit.

This heretofore undescribed pattern, which appears in the simplified example after lunch I started not feeling well, is marked in comparison to the arguably synonymous after lunch I stopped feeling well. We will attempt to show that this unpredictable pattern has combinatoric or selectional properties that differ from stop as well as other uses of start, which can be understood as indicating the particular pragmatic function and communicative role of the utterance.

This thesis will build on syntactic, semantic, pragmatic, and discourse theories to establish (1) a theoretical motivation for why we should explore the difference between the two patterns start not and stop, and (2) that a substantive difference in both content and usage exists between the two patterns. Data collected were annotated and analyzed on the basis of syntactic context, and lexical semantic, combinatoric, pragmatic, and discourse features, which on the whole indicate that the SNX construction is indeed used to implicate something distinct from stop. We analyze these features in order to (1) determine in what forms this pattern exists and why, (2) describe what discourse purposes this pattern fulfills, and (3) develop more evidence in support of hypotheses which describe form/function relationships. Ultimately we will show that even small variations in form do matter for function.

Included in

Linguistics Commons