Complex predicates like the light verb constructions “take a look” or “give a call” aren’t rare in English, but they’re also not the most common way to form a predicate either — usually, in English we just use simple verbs to talk about an action, like “look” or “call”; there is a simple-verb preference in English.
Many other languages, like Hindi, have the opposite preference: There, complex predicates are the preferred way to encode an action. In a new paper coming out in the Journal of South Asian Linguistics, Ashwini Vaidya and Eva Wittenberg show in a series of four experiments that, like with so many things in life, practice makes perfect: Processing costs of light verb constructions that we had found in English and German are undetectable in Hindi.
What does that mean for our linguistic theory-building? Take a look!