Stability and Change in Intransitive Argument Structure
elly van gelderen
June 2018

This paper assumes that the argument structure of verbs in spoken, written, and signed languages is pretty uniform. 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. 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 verbs that 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 speculate on why they are.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004052
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: n.a.
keywords: argument structure, aspect, diachrony, sorace hierarchy, unaccusative, unergative, syntax
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