Daniele Franceschi

More on English Aspectual Verbs: a Lexicographic Investigation of Start

  • Abstract

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Keywords: English aspectual verbs, ingressive predicates, start, dictionaries.

This paper analyses the lexicographic entries for the verb start in the online editions of two unabridged dictionaries of English, namely the Oxford English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Unabridged, as well as in one learner’s dictionary, i.e. the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, in order to examine how this highly frequent ingressive aspectualiser is treated in terms of the evolution of its various senses and by contrasting it with its near-synonyms. The study shows that dictionaries need to provide clearer and finer-grained information about the areas of overlap between start, begin, initiate and commence. Although these predicates share a similar semantic nucleus and may to a large extent enter the same syntactic constructions, they differ at a more subtle pragmatic level. This meaning dimension does not seem to be appropriately accounted for in dictionaries.

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