Linguistics of Eating and Drinking

The Grammar of Eating and Drinking Verbs. Åshild Næss

DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-818X.2011.00279.x

Verbs referring to acts of eating and drinking show a crosslinguistic tendency to behave in ways which distinguish them from other verbs in a language. Specifically, they tend to pattern like intransitive verbs in certain respects, even though they appear to conform to the definition of ‘prototypical transitive verbs’. The explanations which have been suggested for this behaviour fall into two main categories: those referring to telicity or Aktionsart, and those referring to the fact that such verbs describe acts which have ‘affected agents’, i.e. they have an effect on their agent as well as on their patient participant. The latter observation has further led to reexaminations of the notion of transitivity in general.