LINGUIST List 16.881

Wed Mar 23 2005

Diss: Cognitive Science: Brattico: 'Causatives and ...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>

To post to LINGUIST, use our convenient web form at


        1.    Pauli Brattico, Causatives and the Empty Lexicon: A Minimalist Perspective

Message 1: Causatives and the Empty Lexicon: A Minimalist Perspective

Date: 23-Mar-2005
From: Pauli Brattico <>
Subject: Causatives and the Empty Lexicon: A Minimalist Perspective

Institution: University of Helsinki
Program: Deparment of Psychology
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Pauli Brattico

Dissertation Title: Causatives and the Empty Lexicon: A Minimalist Perspective

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science

Dissertation Director:
Saariluoma Pertti
Gabriel Sandu

Dissertation Abstract:

What is the constitution of the meaning of morphemes (lexical concepts)?
According to most theories, such meanings have a molecular or holistic
internal structure: prototypes, exemplars, semantic networks, complex
schemata, scripts, and even classical definitions. Recently, however,
contrary opinions have arisen in cognitive science suggesting that lexical
concepts are not semantically structured. Let us call this theory 'lexical

It is argued in this thesis that, once certain conceptual issues have been
clarified (Chapter 1), lexical atomism might indeed provide a more suitable
alternative (Chapter 2). The theory is nevertheless problematic in that,
among other things, most theories of grammar apparently require a
decompositional account of the lexicon, and the atomistic version offers
too much stipulation rather than explanation. This problem is solved in
this thesis by providing a version of the minimalist grammar that
encompasses the atomistic lexicon, does not use meaning postulates, and
suggests a solution to certain problems in minimalist theory (Chapters 3,
6). It is then shown that this proposal suffices to explain the key
properties of causatives without decompositions (Chapter 4). The hypothesis
put forward in this study is that causativity is part of the 'logical
syntax' of a single sentence rather than part of any of its lexical elements.

Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue