Verbal interaction

What is verbal semantics?

To list the troubles with defining causation would fill a dissertation, so I won't bother here. Often, semanticists are interested in argument realization (see Levin's notes above). But there are deeper issues with causality that often go unaddressed. The deepest of all: what the hell is causality?

To this point, I ran across an old draft of a grad school buddy's qualifying paper on causation. It's just a draft, and it's old, but it had a nice section that tried to outline the constitutive criteria for causation*. I have since lost touch with this guy (I'll call him "BB"), but I thought this list of criteria is good food for though for anyone interested in causation. I post these as discussion points only. And if BB sees this, give me a buzz :-)

First, here's a taste of the range of causative types taken from the wiki page on Causation (don't be fooled by these English examples, the issues permeate all languages. Causation is tough):

  • The vase broke — autonomous events (non-causative).
  • The vase broke from a ball’s rolling into it — resulting-event causation.
  • A ball’s rolling into it broke the vase — causing-event causation
  • A ball broke the vase — instrument causation.
  • I broke the vase in rolling a ball into it — author causation (unintended).
  • I broke the vase by rolling a ball into it — agent causation (intended)
  • My arm broke when I fell — undergoer situation (non-causative).
  • I walked to the store — self-agentive causation.
  • I sent him to the store — caused agency (inductive causation).
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