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Academic Paper

Title: Split intransitivity in English
Author: James Baker
Linguistic Field: Semantics; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This article proposes a hierarchy of functional heads encoding the features [±control], [±initiation], [±state], [±change] and [±telic] (see Ramchand 2008). It is argued that this allows for a superior analysis of split intransitivity in English than the traditional notion of ‘unaccusativity’ – the idea that there are two classes of intransitive verbs which differ in relation to the underlying status/positions of their arguments. Rather, it is shown – on the basis of a systematic consideration of a wide range of English verbs – that the proposed diagnostics for unaccusativity in English identify multiple classes, whose behaviour can be captured in terms of the proposed hierarchy. Good correlation is found between the classes identified by the English diagnostics and Sorace's (2000) Auxiliary Selection Hierarchy (ASH), providing further support for the cross-linguistic applicability of the ASH to split intransitive patterns.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 23, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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