The Lexical Semantics of Verbs

Course LSA.113P
LSA Linguistic Institute
July 2007
Stanford University

General Information:

Course Description:

This course reviews foundational topics in the lexical semantics of verbs, bringing together insights from a range of theoretical perspectives. Since verbs are predicates of events, a theory of the lexical semantics of verbs must be a theory of which cognitively salient facets of events are relevant to argument realization---the mapping from lexical semantics to syntax. The course reviews and assesses the two leading approaches to event conceptualization: one takes events to be conceptualized in terms of their causal structure, the other in terms of their aspectual structure. The course then considers the form of a lexical semantic representation which embodies these theories of event conceptualization; it surveys theoretical constructs such as semantic roles, predicate decompositions, proto-roles, and thematic hierarchies. The course aims to provide essential background for several regular courses and assumes no specific background in lexical semantics. It will take the form of three lectures.


Levin, B. and M. Rappaport Hovav (2005) Argument Realization, Cambridge University Press.

Handouts from Lectures


The material in these lectures is expanded and almost completely subsumed in the handouts for Course LSA 116, Lexical Semantics of Verbs, offered at the 2009 LSA Linguistic Institute.

Lecture 1:

Introduction and Causal Approaches to Lexical Semantic Representation

Lecture 2:

Aspectual Approaches to Lexical Semantic Representation

Lecture 3:

Semantic Determinants of Argument Realization

Return to Beth Levin's home page.