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On the Offensive

By Karen Stollznow

On the Offensive " This book sheds light on the derogatory phrases, insults, slurs, stereotypes, tropes and more that make up linguistic discrimination. Each chapter addresses a different area of prejudice: race and ethnicity; gender identity; sexuality; religion; health and disability; physical appearance; and age."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Transitivity and Structural Case Marking in Psych Verbs. A Fragment of an HPSG Grammar of Spanish Add Dissertation
Author: Luis Gonzalez Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of California, Davis, Department of Spanish
Completed in: 1997
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Spanish
Director(s): Almerindo Ojeda

Abstract: This dissertation presents evidence from Spanish which shows that case marking is structural for psych verbs, against the common assumption that it is inherent (lexically stipulated) as proposed in Belletti & Rizzi (1988).

An account is offered of the alternation of case marking--accusative/dative--that is possible with psych predicates as in
(1) a. A la ministra *0/le/la preocuparon las noticias
to the minister CLITIC *0/DAT/ACC worried the news-NOM
b. Las noticias 0/le/*la preocuparon a la ministra
the news-NOM CLITIC 0/DAT/*ACC worried to the minister-DAT/ACC

The evidence shows when accusative marking is obligatory, when dative is possible and why dative is more common than accusative with these verbs. It also explains why dative marking applies when structural accusative is expected with two-place predicates. An account is offered of when clitic doubling--dative as well as accusative--is obligatory, when it is optional, and why the optional rule is applied more often than not. The analysis proposed is shown to apply not only to Romance languages, but also to languages from other families.

The explanation rests on a proposal to include as part of the grammar of natural languages a rule advanced in this dissertation that is called the Rule of Dative Overriding of the Accusative (Dative Overriding). This rule states roughly tha human object NPs of monotransitive verbs tend to get dative marking instead of accusative.

Dative overriding allows one to propose a simple, yet more predictable characterization of transitivity. Transitive verbs are verbs which can assign accusative to their first objects, but that can also assign dative (when the object NP is as high or higher in the animacy hierarchy than the subject). Dative overriding accounts for the dative marking common in verbs of feeling or emotion (psych verbs). It also offers a principled explanation for the dialectal
variation in Spanish sentences like those in (2):
(2) a. ?Viste a Jorge ayer?
Did you see George yesterday?
b. Sm, lo/le (yo) vi en su oficina
Yes, him I saw in his office