Functional Constraints in Grammar: On the Unergative-unaccusative Distinction
This book examines in detail the acceptability status of sentences in the following five English constructions, and elucidates the syntactic, semantic, and functional requirements that the constructions must satisfy in order to be appropriately used: There-Construction, (One's) Way Construction, Cognate Object Construction, Pseudo-Passive Construction, and Extraposition from Subject NPs. It has been argued in the frameworks of Chomskyan generative grammar, relational grammar, conceptual semantics and other syntactic theories that the acceptability of sentences in these constructions can be accounted for by the unergative unaccusative distinction of intransitive verbs. However, this book shows through a wide range of sentences that none of these constructions is sensitive to this distinction. For each construction, it shows that acceptability status is determined by a given sentence's semantic function as it interacts with syntactic constraints (which are independent of the unergative unaccusative distinction), and with functional constraints that apply to it in its discourse context.
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acceptability accusative action activity agent allow argues argument arrived assigned assumed called Chapter characterization claim clear cognate object construction considered contrast crossed danced denoting existence derived describe direct discussion distance distinction door English ergative event examples existence or appearance expressed Extraposition fact following examples following sentences framework Functional Constraint further given Grammar grin hand Hence implies interpretation intransitive involving John jumped languages laughed Levin and Rappaport lived locative logical subject manner Mary means mind moved movement nominative Note Observe the following passive passive sentences Perlmutter and Postal person phrase predicts present problem Rappaport Hovav Relational represent Requirement Restriction role satisfy screamed seems semantic serve shown smile speaker specified string structure subject NP subject position subject referent syntactic theme there-construction there-sentences transitive verbs unacceptable Unaccusative Restriction unaccusative verbs Unergative Restriction unergative verbs unusual volitional walked young