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A Locally Determined Verb Typology

Publication: Revue roumaine de linguistique, LI (1), p. 5-22
Publisher:Editura Academiei
Abstract:We propose to derive typological transgressions among transitive, unergative and unaccusative verbs from the interaction between semantic properties and syntactic structure. More specifically, variation in transitivity follows from the way syntax computes the relation between verb and complement, while the semantic and the syntactic properties of the verb are constant. We capitalize on the fact that there are two ways in which selectional features in the verb-complement relation may pass the checking operation: either by virtue of their semantic similarity (s-selection), or by matching the categorial features of the complement against the formal (grammatical) features of the verb (c-selection). The dichotomy between s- and c-selection allows us to reduce the traditional transitivity typology to a syntactic constraint on the complement. That is, computation of the complement by s-selection only (unergatives), by c-selection only (unaccusatives) or by both s- and c-selection (transitives). This distinction accounts for the empirical observation that verbs may transgress their typological groups, and that the transgression takes place only in certain directions.
Language: English

Citations to this publication: 5

References in this publication: 0

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