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By Thomas L Kane

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Sample text

I saw myself *myself in the mirror. As illustrated in Table 4 and Table 5, the less telic a sentence becomes, the more likely the intensifier is interpreted not as adverbial exclusive but as adverbial inclusive. Recall from earlier in this chapter that the syntactic Agent-sensitive expressions 43 position of the intensifier also has some impact on its interpretation as adverbial exclusive or adverbial inclusive. Considering the semantic contribution of adverbial exclusive intensifiers on sentences, it only seems natural that the linguistic structure of a situation in which an action could theoretically be carried out by someone else is a transitive sentence with a human or an animate subject.

Regarding the exclusion of an external cause, the interaction of von selbst and von allein with an inanimate referent resembles that with an animate referent. On the other hand, the question of whether the expressions also highlight the volitionality of the action must be negated. It is of course impossible to argue that a book fell off a shelf because it just decided to do so. However, many speakers claim about sentences like (62) that a supernatural force seems to be involved, thereby attributing some agentive properties to a referent like the book.

Dieses Jahr hat Jan den Garten von selbst15 umgegraben. ‘Last year Jan had to be reminded five times, …this year Jan dug up the garden of his own accord’. Agent-sensitive expressions 27 b. dieses Jahr hat Jan den Garten von selbst umgegraben. ‚Last year Peter threatened Jan, …this year Jan dug up the garden of his own accord’. c. dieses Jahr hat Jan den Garten von selbst umgegraben. ‚Last year Peter hit Jan, …this year Jan dug up the garden of his own accord’. d. dieses Jahr hat Jan den Garten von selbst umgegraben.

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