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On the Syntax of Ditransitive Constructions

By Anna Kibort


<p>This paper deals with modelling the argument structure of constructions with two internal arguments expressing a beneficiary/recipient and a patient/theme. It offers an analysis of the dative shift which captures both the alternative grammatical function mappings and the altered semantics of the participants of the related predicates. The LMT variant used assumes that semantic participants are sets of semantic entailments of the predicate (Dowty 1991, Ackerman &amp; Moore 2001) and that it is the syntactic representation of the predicate’s valency, rather than a hierarchy of thematic roles, that remains constant in the model (Zaenen 1993, Ackerman &amp; Moore 2001). Specifically, instead of fixing the thematically ordered participants and allowing them to change syntactic pre-specifications (which can lead to violations of monotonicity), the proposed model keeps constant the syntactic argument positions with their fixed pre-specifications and allows the semantic participants to re-align with them. Such alternative alignments represent changes in the semantics of the predicate which are recognised when the predicate undergoes dative shift or applicative transitivisation. Since in the proposed model only those objects which are capable of becoming passive subjects are [–r] (other objects are [+o]), the model straightforwardly supports the correct prediction of the theory of object asymmetries (Baker 1988, Bresnan &amp; Moshi 1990) that, when an argument can be a passive subject, it can also be expressed as an object marker in the active – but it does not make the incorrect prediction that the reverse will hold, too. It also concurs with Alsina’s (1996a) account of the distribution of objective properties other than passivisability; this is regulated by additional constraints which are often semantic in nature and have to be determined on a language-by-language basis. Finally, by unifying analyses of the non-applied dative and benefactive applicatives, the model provides LMT support for the special morphosyntactic status of the dative as the ‘third structural position’.</p

Publisher: CSLI Publications
Year: 2008
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