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Constraining argument structure in nominalizations: The case of English-er

By Andrew Mcintyre


The article contributes to the typology of structural factors constraining argument realization in nominalizations, focussing on English –er-nominals. It first reappraises the conclusions of earlier studies on when –er-nominals can express arguments. Derivations disallowing argument linking are treated as semantically and structurally parallel to nominal compounds, and their argument-structural behaviour is attributed to a generalization that base-generated complex heads prohibit realization of arguments of the nonhead outside the complex head, with principled exceptions. In argument-realizing –er-nominals, some speakers allow the full range of argument structures permitted by head movement analyses, while less liberal idiolects require a (lexicalist-inspired but syntactically implemented) analysis where –er is an Agent-realizing affix that selects V°, forcing arguments of V to merge above affixation as arguments of nouns, which is only possible for PP and of-insertion arguments.

Year: 2013
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