(Dis)appearence verbs

James D. McCawley jmccawle at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Tue Mar 31 18:48:00 UTC 1998

It isn't true that _disappear_ doesn't allow There-insertion, as one can
see from the first sentence of H. P. Lovecraft's "The case of Charles
Dexter Ward" (I quote from memory, so this may not be exactly right):
        From an asylum for the insane near Providence, Rhode Island, there
recently disappeared an exceedingly singular person.
The reason that _disappear_ is OK here is that the disappearance is what
brought the person onto the scene. Intransitive verbs that refer to
something being or coming "on the scene" allow There-insertion, even if
that's not what they usually refer to. For more details, see the section on
There-insertion in my _The Syntactic Phenomena of English_ (University of
Chicago Press, 2nd edition warm off the presses).

Jim McCawley

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list