External Arguments in Transitivity Alternations: A Layering Approach

ISBN : 9780199571956

Artemis Alexiadou; Elena Anagnostopoulou; Florian Schafer
248 Pages
157 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2015
Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics
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This book is an exploration of the syntax of external arguments in transitivity alternations from a cross-linguistic perspective. It focuses particularly on the causative/anticausative alternation, which the authors take to be a Voice alternation, and the formation of adjectival participles. The authors use data principally from English, German, and Greek to demonstrate that the presence of anticausative morphology does not have any truth-conditional effects, but that marked anticausatives involve more structure than their unmarked counterparts. This morphology is therefore argued to be associated with a semantically inert Voice head that the authors call 'expletive Voice'. The authors also propose that passive formation is not identical across languages, and that the distinction between target vs. result state participles is crucial in understanding the contribution of Voice in adjectival passives. The book provides the tools required to investigate the morphosyntactic structure of verbs and participles, and to identify the properties of verbal alternations across languages. It will be of interest to theoretical linguists from graduate level upwards, particularly those specializing in morphosyntax and typology.


1. Introduction
2. Event Decomposition and the causative alternation
3. Voice Morphology and the causative alternation
4. A typology of Voice
5. Adjectival passives and Voice
6. Conclusions

About the author: 

Artemis Alexiadou is Professor of Theoretical and English Linguistics at the University of Stuttgart. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics in 1994 from the University of Potsdam. Her research interests lie in theoretical and comparative syntax, morphology, and most importantly in the interface between syntax, morphology, the lexicon, and interpretation. Her publications include The Unaccusativity Puzzle (with Elena Anagnostopoulou and Martin Everaert; OUP 2004) and The Syntax of Roots and the Roots of Syntax (with Hagit Borer and Florian Schafer; OUP 2014), along with multiple journal articles and papers in conference proceedings.; Elena Anagnostopoulou is Professor of Theoretical Linguistics at the University of Crete. She obtained her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Salzburg in 1994. After a post-doc at MIT (1997-1998), she took a position at the University of Crete in 1998, where she is currently Professor of Theoretical Linguistics. Her research interests lie in theoretical and comparative syntax, with special focus on the interfaces between syntax, morphology, and the lexicon, argument alternations, Case, Agreement, clitics and anaphora. She is the author of The Syntax of Ditransitives. Evidence from Clitics (Mouton de Gruyter 2003), has co-edited four volumes in theoretical linguistics and has published in journals, edited volumes and conference proceedings. ; Florian Schafer is a researcher at the collaborative research centre (Sonderforschungsbereich) SFB 732 'Incremental Specification in Context' at the University of Stuttgart. He studied General and Theoretical Linguistics at the University of Potsdam and finished his dissertation on the (anti-)causative alternation in 2007 at the University of Stuttgart. His main research interests are located in the theories of syntax, morphology and lexical semantics and the interaction of these modules of grammar. He is co-editor, along with Artemis Alexiadou and Hagit Borer, of The Syntax of Roots and the Roots of Syntax (OUP 2014).

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