AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

On the Syntax of Applicative and Causative Constructions

by Hyun Kyoung Jung

Institution: University of Arizona
Year: 2014
Keywords: argument structure; causative; morphosyntax; Linguistics; applicative
Record ID: 2042980
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10150/321581


This dissertation investigates the argument structure of verb phrases by identifying the syntactic roles and locations of the functional heads it consists of. Since the early 1990s, it has been widely accepted that the basic verb phrase consists of two distinct projections of a functional layer v/VoiceP, and a lexical layer √/VP (Chomsky 1995, Hale & Keyser 1993, Harley 1995; 2008a, Kratzer 1996, Marantz 1997). Recent developments in generative grammar, however, suggest that it may comprise of three projections (Pylkkanen 2002; 2008, Cuervo 2003, Collins 2005, Alexiadou et al. 2006, Harley 2013a, Merchant 2013): two functional projections – Voice, which introduces the external argument and licenses accusative Case; verbalizing v, which marks the eventuality type be/do/become/cause – and an acategorial lexical root (Cuervo 2003, Harley 2013a). In this dissertation, I explore the consequences of adopting the tripartite theory of verb phrases with two particular foci: (i) the structure of applicative and causative constructions and the interactions between the two; (ii) languages where the applicative and causative constructions are formed by attaching affixes to the verbal root. The main proposal of this dissertation is that various morpho-syntactic behaviors of applicatives and causatives and their cross-linguistic variation can be captured with two tools: (i) the hypothesis of the tripartite verb structure; and (ii) an understanding of the selectional criteria of the functional heads – Voice, Appl, and v – and their head-specific properties. The tripartite assumption solves for us some empirical puzzles and raises some new questions. I show that the three major achievements of the tripartite hypothesis are that it provides a syntactic account of the constraints on applicative and causative affix ordering, the distinct patterns of functional heads in their ability to introduce arguments, and the disparate morpho-syntactic behaviors of the three causative types due to the size of their complements. I then provide answers to some new questions that follow from the transition to the tripartite hypothesis. I elaborate the selectional mechanisms of the Voice, Appl, and v heads involved in applicatives and causatives. I reinterpret previously established facts about applicatives and causatives within the updated verbal structure.