The Syntax of Argument-Structure-Changing Morphology

M. C. Hoffman, 1991

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The study of the causative and applicative constructions in Bantu languages gives us an insight into some complex applications of theories of argument structure and Case theory.  This thesis develops a theory of lexical complementation which gives a unified account of causative and applicative constructions and double object constructions of all types: all these multiple object constructions are examples of predicate-predicate complementation.  Causatives are examples of VP-VP complementation, while applicatives, locative alternation verbs, and dative double object verbs are examples of VP-PP complementation.  Complementation involving PP is examined in some detail, as a theory of Preposition Inversion is developed and shown to be responsible for applicative asymmetries.  In addition, a theory of licensing involving movement to functional heads accounts for a number of object properties in Bantu.

Chapter 1 gives the theoretical background for the thesis, which includes a syntactic theory of argument structure in which the argument structure of a predicate takes the form of syntactic trees, and head-to-head movement may take place at a level of representation known as lexical syntax.

Chapter 2 develops an account of licensing (Case-marking) in which NPs may be licensed in one of three ways: through Spec-Head agreement with a functional projection LP (Licensing Phrase), to which NP moves at LF; through sisterhood with a predicate head; and through Spec-Head agreement with a specially licensing lexical predicate.  This chapter also shows how this analysis explains the symmetrical object/asymmetrical object division among Bantu languages.

Chapter 3 focuses on applicative constructions in Chichewa, Kinyarwanda, and Sesotho, and dative, benefactive, and locative alternation verbs in English.  It develops the basic notion that prepositions express relations between two grammatical items into a theory of Preposition Inversion, whereby a preposition can express the relation it denotes in either of two directions.  If a P combines with an NPI into a P’ and is predicated of an NP2, the relation between NP2 and NP1 via P’ may also be expressed by NP2 combining with P and being predicated of NP1.  In addition, prepositions may relate either two entities (NPs) or an entity and an event (an NP and a VP); entity-entity prepositions are responsible for lexical variations such as locative and dative alternations, while entity-event prepositions are used in productive applicative constructions.  Word order and object property differences among different types of applicatives in Bantu languages are accounted for using P Inversion to construct different hierarchical relations within a single type of structure involving a VP and a PP.

Chapter 4 examines causative constructions in a variety of languages (Turkish, Japanese, Chi-Mwi:ni, Chichewa, Kinyarwanda, Sesotho, Chamorro, and Quechua) and uses the theory of licensing developed in Chapter 2 to characterize the differences among them.  Chapter 5 examines some residual issues, such as the co-occurrence of causative and applicative morphemes and WH-movement and NP-movement asymmetries in multiple object constructions.

Thesis Supervisor:         Kenneth Hale

Title:                             Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics


Table of Contents

Chapter 1         Introduction                                                                                          9

            1.1       Overview of the thesis                                                               9

            1.2       Argument structure                                                                               11

                        1.2.1    Representation, categories, and movement operations    15

                        1.2.2    Thematic relations, projection, and the UTAH               15

                           L-syntactic structure as thematic relations                      22

                           Projection to s-syntax and the UTAH                            26

                           External arguments                                                        28

                        1.2.3    Lexical complementation in the syntax                           30

            1.3       Licensing (Case Theory)                                                                       31

            1.4       Object properties and object symmetry                                     38

                        1.4.1    Passive                                                                         40

                        1.4.2    Object marking                                                             42

                        1.4.3    Other object properties                                                 44

            1.5       Summary of Chapter 1                                                              45

Chapter 2         Licensing                                                                                              46

            2.1       Previous accounts of and uses for Structural Case                                 46

                        2.1.1    Larson (1988a)                                                                        49

                        2.1.2    Aoun and Li (1989)                                                                  56

                        2.1.3    Chomsky (class notes, 1990)                                                    59

            2.2       A proposal for a system of licensing                                                      63

            2.3       L-licensing and object symmetry                                                           69

                        2.3.1    Asymmetrical object constructions with upper object

                                    L-licensing                                                                                69

                           Licensing structure                                                        69

                           Passive                                                             72

                           Object marking                                                 73

                        2.3.2    Asymmetrical object constructions with lower object

L-licensing                                                                                75

                           Licensing structure                                                        75

                           Passive                                                             78

                           Object marking                                                 79

                        2.3.3    Symmetrical object constructions                                              80

                           Licensing structure                                                        80

                           Passive                                                             83

                           Object marking                                                 84

                        2.3.4    Summary of licensing variations                                     85

            2.4       Summary of the theory of licensing                                                        86

Chapter 3         Applicatives                                                                                          88

            3.1       Preposition inversion                                                                             89

                        3.1.1    Double object constructions                                                      90

                           Prepositional dative à double object                            90

                           Double object à prepositional dative               93

                           Separate structures                                                       94

                        3.1.2    Locative alternation verbs and inversion                         95

                        3.1.3    The lexical benefactive alternation                                              106

                           English benefactives                                                      106

                           Event-entity Ps                                                 108

            3.2       Characteristics of applicative constructions                                            116

                        3.2.1    Benefactive applicatives                                                            117

                        3.2.2    Other types of applicatives                                                        121

            3.3       Applicative alternations as P inversion                                       126

            3.4       Previous analyses                                                                                  135

                        3.4.1    Marantz (1984, 1990)                                                              135

                        3.4.2    Baker (1988a,b)                                                                       138

                        3.4.3    Intransitive verbs and applicatives                                              140

                           Chichewa optional object verbs                                    140

                           A solution                                                                     145

            3.5       Summary and conclusions                                                                     148

Chapter 4         Causatives                                                                                            150

            4.1       Types of causative constructions                                                           151

            4.2       The structure of the synthetic causative                                      154

            4.3       The position of the causee                                                                     157

            4.4       The licensing of the causee                                                                    158

                        4.4.1    Type 1 causatives (causee is L-licensed)                                   160

                           Kinyarwanda                                                                160

                           Chi-Mwi:ni                                                                   162

                           Sesotho                                                                        163

                           Imbabura Quechua and Chamorro                                166

                           Japanese                                                                      168

                           Sumary of Section 4.4.1                                               175

                        4.4.2    Type 2 causatives (only lower object is L-licensed)                   176

                           Turkish                                                             177

                           Chichewa                                                                     179

                           Summary of Section 4.4.2                                             182

                        4.4.3    Summary of the types of causatives                                           183

            4.5       Conclusion                                                                                           184

Chapter 5         Residual Issues                                                                         185

            5.1       Causatives and applicatives together                                                      185

                        5.1.1    Affix ordering                                                                           186

                        5.1.2    Triple object structures                                                 189

            5.2       Double object verbs in oddity in Kinyarwanda                           194

                        5.2.1    Locative applicatives                                                                 194

                        5.2.2    Locatives with double object verbs                                           197

                        5.2.3    Benefactives and locatives                                                         203

            5.3       Sesotho intransitive verbs                                                                      204

            5.4       Object marking asymmetries in symmetrical object languages     208

            5.5       Object properties and WH-movement                                      216

            5.6       Conclusion                                                                                           228

Chapter 6         Conclusion                                                                                           229