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 appearance argued arrived assigned assumed called Chapter characterization claim clause clear cognate object construction consider contrast danced denoting derived describe died direct discussion distance distinction English event examples existence existence or appearance expressed extraposed Extraposition fact following examples following sentences framework Functional Constraint further given gradual Grammar grin hand Hence implies interpretation intransitive involving John jumped languages laughed Levin and Rappaport lived logical subject manner Mary means moved movement Observe the following passive sentences Perlmutter and Postal predicts pseudo-passive sentences question Rappaport Hovav relational represent Requirement role rolled satisfy says screamed seems semantic sentences involving serve shown shows smile speaker specified street subject NP subject position subject referent syntactic theme there-construction tion topic transitive verbs unacceptable unaccusative verbs Unergative Restriction unergative verbs unusual manner verbal walked