"Cause" and affect : evaluative and emotive parameters of meaning among the periphrastic causative verb in English




Childers, Zachary Witter

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This dissertation investigates the so-called periphrastic causative verbs in English – verbs such as cause, make, have, force, and let – and distinguishes them with respect to their selectional behavior and inferential properties. I suggest that these verbs are primarily differentiated in terms of the evaluative and affective dispositions of participants in the speech act and the caused eventuality. The empirical basis for this claim incorporates corpora as well as experimental elicitation and judgment tasks. Based on these findings, it is proposed that the selection of periphrastic causative verb in the expression of a directive causative event is governed by the evaluative stance of the patient of the causative verb. I argue that the English verb cause in particular is less general than has previously been assumed, that it has at least two different senses, and that its primary sense is restricted to cases of negative speaker sentiment.



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