The syntax of manner quotative constructions in English and Dutch

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This paper proposes an account of some properties of the manner quotative constructions be like [Quote] in English and hebben (zo)iets van [Quote] in Dutch. We make two main claims about these constructions. First, in the spirit of Rothstein’s (1999) proposal for adjectival predicates of copula be, we propose that eventive direct speech interpretations of these quotatives are derived via a coercion mechanism akin to those that make count readings out of mass nouns in the nominal domain. Second, adapting a proposal for be like originally made by Kayne (2007), we propose that some exceptional syntactic properties of be like as a quote introducer in English are explained by the presence of a silent something quantifier, which takes a like-headed PP as its complement. We compare English be like quotatives with innovative (zo)iets van quotative constructions in Dutch, which contain an overt something quantifier and behave similarly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalLinguistic Variation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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