LINGUIST List 14.1282

Tue May 6 2003

Diss: Syntax: Brandt "Cipient Predication..."

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. brandt, Cipient Predication: Unifying Double Object...

Message 1: Cipient Predication: Unifying Double Object...

Date: Tue, 06 May 2003 09:28:59 +0000
From: brandt <>
Subject: Cipient Predication: Unifying Double Object...

Institution: Utrecht University
Program: Utrecht Institute of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Patrick Brandt 

Dissertation Title: Cipient Predication: Unifying Double Object,
Dative Experiencer and Existential/Presentational Constructions

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field: Syntax 

Dissertation Director 1: Tanya Reinhart
Dissertation Director 2: Eric Reuland
Dissertation Director 3: Henk Verkuyl

Dissertation Abstract: 

The principal claim of this dissertation is that there is a unique
structural core shared by Double Object, Dative Experiencer and
Existential/Presentational constructions. This core is argued to take
the form of a Cipient Predication structure, `cipient'
covering traditional notions like (affected) source/goal, recipient,
indirect object and/or dative experiencer (cf. re-/per-
cipient). Central questions arising in defining Cipient Predication
are: How are cipients thematically licensed, and what is the role of
(the analogues of) `there' in argument-structural terms?
What is the structural locus of cipients/`there'? What is the role and
nature of dative case? How can the possessive interpretation, the
blocking and definiteness effects associated with the constructions be

Cipients are presented as external arguments and logical subjects
(location individuals) of predicates derived from a propositional
meaning embedded in the VP, the predicate formed by a lower tense head
`little t' that is overtly realized as `there'. Little t is argued to
encode a distinction at the reference time level, structural dative
hinging on a tense property like structural nominative. The cipient
relates as a whole to a part to a VP-internal location argument that
together with the theme furnishes the propositional meaning
(`possession'). As logical subjects, cipients anchor the
propositional meaning encoded in the VP to the utterance context,
forcing its interpretation in extralinguistic terms (`blocking
effects'). It is proposed that lacking structurally
encoded subjects, Existential/Presentational constructions are not
saturated expressions in syntax, precluding interpretation of certain
quantifiers (`most'/`every', vide `definiteness effects').

Cipient Predication, couched in terms of the Minimalist Program (in
particular, Chomsky 1999) and a semantics relying on tense, the
ontological distinction of locations as well as scalar and part-whole
structure, should be of interest to scholars working on datives,
argument structure, and the syntax/semantics/pragmatics interface more
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