Year of publication
- 2006 (4) (remove)
- The properties of anticausatives crosslinguistically (2006)
- The causative/anticausative alternation has been the topic of much typological and theoretical discussion in the linguistic literature. This alternation is characterized by verbs with transitive and intransitive uses, such that the transitive use of a verb V means roughly "cause to Vintransitive" (see Levin 1993). The discussion revolves around two issues: the first one concerns the similarities and differences between the anticausative and the passive, and the second one concerns the derivational relationship, if any, between the transitive and intransitive variant. With respect to the second issue, a number of approaches have been developed. Judging the approach conceptually unsatisfactory, according to which each variant is assigned an independent lexical entry, it was concluded that the two variants have to be derivationally related. The question then is which one of the two is basic and where this derivation takes place in the grammar. Our contribution to this discussion is to argue against derivational approaches to the causative / anticausative alternation. We focus on the distribution of PPs related to external arguments (agent, causer, instrument, causing event) in passives and anticausatives of English, German and Greek and the set of verbs undergoing the causative/anticausative alternation in these languages. We argue that the crosslinguistic differences in these two domains provide evidence against both causativization and detransitivization analyses of the causative / anticausative alternation. We offer an approach to this alternation which builds on a syntactic decomposition of change of state verbs into a Voice and a CAUS component. Crosslinguistic variation in passives and anticausatives depends on properties of Voice and its combinations with CAUS and various types of roots.
- From hierarchies to features : person splits and direct-inverse alternations (2006)
- In the recent literature there is growing interest in the morpho-syntactic encoding of hierarchical effects. The paper investigates one domain where such effects are attested: ergative splits conditioned by person. This type of splits is then compared to hierarchical effects in direct-inverse alternations. On the basis of two case studies (Lummi instantiating an ergative split person language and Passamaquoddy an inverse language) we offer an account that makes no use of hierarchies as a primitive. We propose that the two language types differ as far as the location of person features is concerned. In inverse systems person features are located exclusively in T, while in ergative systems, they are located in T and a particular type of v. A consequence of our analysis is that Case checking in split and inverse systems is guided by the presence/absence of specific phi-features. This in turn provides evidence for a close connection between Case and phi-features, reminiscent of Chomsky’s (2000, 2001) Agree.
- Instrument subjects are agents or causers (2006)
- It has often been noticed that one syntactic argument position can be realized by elements which seem to realize different thematic roles. This is notably the case with the external argument position of verbs of change of state which licenses volitional agents, instruments or natural forces/causers, showing the generality and abstractness of the external argument relation. (1) a. John broke the window (Agent) b. The hammer broke the window (Instrument) c. The storm broke the window (Causer) In order to capture this generality, Van Valin & Wilkins (1996) and Ramchand (2003) among others have proposed that the thematic role of the external argument position is in fact underspecified. The relevant notion is that of an effector (in Van Valin & Wilkins) or of an abstract causer/initiator (in Ramchand). In this paper we argue against a total underspecification of the external argument relation. While we agree that (1b) does not instantiate an instrument theta role in subject position, we argue that a complete underspecification of the external theta-position is not feasible, but that two types of external theta roles have to be distinguished, Agents and Causers. Our arguments are based on languages where Agents and Causers show morpho-syntactic independence (section 2.1) and the behavior of instrument subjects in English, Dutch, German and Greek (section 2.2 and 3). We show that instrument subjects are either Agent or Causer like. In section (4) we give an analysis how arguments realizing these thematic notions are introduced into syntax.
- Pieces of the be perfect in German and older English (2006)
- This paper examines the development of periphrastic constructions involving auxiliary "have" and "be" with a past participle in the history of English, on the basis of parsed electronic corpora. It is argued that the two constructions represented distinct syntactic and semantic structures: while the one with have developed into a true perfect in the course of Middle English, the one with be remained a stative resultative throughout its history. In this way, it is explained why the be construction was rarely or never used in a number of contexts, including past counterfactuals, iteratives, duratives, certain kinds of infinitives and various other utterance types that cannot be characterized as perfects of result. When the construction with have became a true perfect, it was used in such contexts, regardless of the identity of the main verb, leading to the appearance of have with verbs like come which had previously only taken be. Crucially, however, have was not spreading at the expense of be, as the be perfect had never been used in such contexts, but rather at the expense of the old simple past. At least until the end of the Early Modern English period, the shift in the relative frequency of have and be perfects is to be explained in terms of the expansion of the former into new contexts, while the latter remained stable. A formal analysis is proposed, taking as its starting point a comparison with German which shows that the older English be perfect indeed behaves more like the German stative passive than its haben and sein perfects.