Psych verbs in English and Mandarin

Candice Chi-Hang Cheung, Richard K. Larson

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Psych verb constructions show peculiar properties. They appear to project the same θ-relations into inverse configurations (John fears sharks/Sharks frighten John). Furthermore, Experiencer Object psych verb constructions admit backward binding in apparent violation of familiar c-command conditions (Pictures of himself anger John). We offer a solution to both puzzles drawing crucially on data from English and Mandarin. We argue that apparent θ-role inversion is an illusion, and that Experiencer Subject psych verb constructions like John fears sharks are not in fact simple transitive constructions but instead involve a concealed clause with a silent predicate (John fears [cpsharks PRED]). Regarding backward binding, we argue for an updated version of Belletti and Rizzi’s (1988) analysis of Experiencer Object psych verbs in which the putative Theme is a Source that is underlyingly c-commanded by the Experiencer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-189
Number of pages63
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2014


  • Applicatives
  • Concealed complement clauses
  • English
  • Intensionality
  • Mandarin
  • Psych verbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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