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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access July 11, 2019

Stability and Change in Intransitive Argument Structure

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From the journal Open Linguistics


The argument structure of verbs is pretty uniform across languages. Thus, verbs of `falling’ involve a Theme and an optional Causer and verbs of `working’ an Agent. Aspect is relevant to that uniformity as well since the former verbs will be telic and the latter durative. Stative verbs form a third main class. I first show that, when (spoken/written) languages change, the basic argument structure and aspect don’t change for most unaccusatives and unergatives. There are, however, systematic reports (e.g. Rosen 1984; Keller & Sorace 2003; Randall et al 2004) that certain verbs are unergative in one language and unaccusative in another and that verbs alternate between different aspects (e.g. Levin & Rappaport Hovav 2014). I examine a few verbs diachronically that are ambiguous in the Keller & Sorace work, i.e. verbs of continuation and of controlled motional process, and conclude that a more fine-grained system is helpful.


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Published Online: 2019-07-11

© 2019 Elly van Gelderen, published by De Gruyter Open

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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