Unaccusativity : At the Syntax-lexical Semantics Interface

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This text presents an extended investigation into a set of linguistic phenomena that have received much attention over the last 15 years. Besides providing support for David Perlmutter's hypothesis that unaccusativity is syntactically represented but semantically determined, this book contributes to the development of a theory of lexical semantic representation and to the elucidation of the mapping from lexical semantics to syntax. Perlmutter's Unaccusative Hypothesis proposes that there are two classes of intransitive verbs - unergatives and unaccusatives - each associated with a distinct syntactic configuration. Unaccusativity begins by isolating the semantic factors that determine whether a verb will be unaccusative or unergative through a careful examination of the behaviour of intransitive verbs from a range of semantic classes in diverse syntactic constructions. Notable are the extensive discussions of verbs of motion, verbs of emission, and various types of verbs of change of state. The authors then introduce rules that determine the syntactic expression of the arguments of the verbs investigated and examine the interactions among them.
The proper treatment of verbs that systematically show multiple meanings - and hence variable classification as unaccusative or unergative - is also considered. In the final chapter, the authors argue that the distribution of locative inversion, a purported unaccusative diagnostic, is determined instead by discourse considerations.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 350 pages
  • 151 x 226 x 25mm | 612g
  • MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Mass., United States
  • English
  • notes, index
  • 0262121859
  • 9780262121859

Table of contents

Introduction - unaccusativity introduced, approaches to unaccusativity, deep versus surface unaccusativity, assumptions about lexical representations; the anatomy of a diagnostic - the resultative construction - the distribution of resultative phrases, the syntax of the resultative construction, semantic restrictions on the resultative construction, alternative accounts of the resultative construction; the causative alternation - a probe into lexical semantics and argument structure - a causative analysis of alternating unaccusative verbs, a closer look at the causative alternation, verbs of existence and appearance; the linking of arguments - the linking of rules, ordering the linking rules, comparison with other approaches; verbs with multiple meanings - rule-governed variable behaviour, consequences for lexical representation, variable behaviour that is not rule-governed; the problem of locative inversion - locative inversion - an introduction, the verbs found in locative inversion, the discourse function of locative inversion, evidence from various verb classes, unergative verbs in locative inversion, the syntax of locative inversion - is unaccusative analysis necessary?, an alternative account, the larger picture. Appendices: verb classes and their members; verbs found on locative inversion construction.
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