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The diversity and unity of the accusative with infinitive construction: a Norwegian perspective

Helge Lødrup1

1University of Oslo

Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1102, Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, NORWAY. E-mail: .

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 46, Issue 5, Pages 891–916, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: 10.1515/LING.2008.029, September 2008

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In an accusative with infinitive sentence like I have seen faith accomplish miracles, the accusative faith is assigned a thematic role by the embedded verb accomplish, and not by the main verb seen. This kind of sentence has been analyzed as involving either “raising to object” or a “small clause”. The present article presents reasons to prefer the former approach, and especially the understanding of raising to object as structure sharing, as in Lexical Functional Grammar. A main point to be made is that accusative with infinitive sentences in Norwegian do not always involve raising. The accusative with infinitive is syntactically and semantically ambiguous: it is assigned either no thematic role or it is assigned a thematic role by the main verb. When the accusative is assigned a thematic role, the accusative with infinitive is an equi (i.e., control) sentence. Several syntactic arguments are presented showing that some accusative with infinitive sentences are equi sentences and some are raising sentences. However, it is also demonstrated that all accusative with infinitive sentences share important syntactic properties. This supports the argument that syntactic theory must allow equi and raising sentences to be syntactically very similar. The theory of control and complementation of Lexical Functional Grammar is shown to give the correct predictions.

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