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Academic Paper


Title: Argument Structure Alternations in Georgian
Author: João Paulo Lazzarini Cyrino
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of São Paulo
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Subject Language: Georgian
Abstract: Argument structure alternations such as the causative/inchoative one are common phenomena shared by most languages. In many of them, the Morphology takes a special role in the expression of the arguments. For instance, unaccusatives, in the standard sense, involve morphological marking which is often shared by reflexives and passives. This kind of syncretism is present in a large number of languages and received special attention by researchers since Marantz (1984), which starts what will then be called the "Unaccusative Analysis of Reflexives". The further development of the Distributed Morphology theory, proposed in Halle & Marantz (1993), introduced a possibility to explain such syncretisms by making use of its theoretical properties of feature late insertion and underspecification of vocabulary items, as can be seen in Embick (1997, 1998, 2004) and also in Alexiadou & Anagnostopoulou (2004)./L//L/The kind of analysis pointed before can well account for morphological syncretism among unaccusatives, reflexives and passives, or, in the sense of Embick (2004), the u-syncretism. In Georgian, verbs of this kind also receive a mark (-i-), as noted in Nash (2002), which is located at a pre-radical slot of the verb and is often called pre-radical vowel by the traditional grammar. However, this morphology is also shared by different verbal contexts such as transitive verbs with objects denoting unalienable possession and transitive verbs with an agent and, simultaneously, beneficiary subject (as also noted by Aridze (2006)). As these latter contexts are typical of transitive verbs rather than unaccusatives, it is impossible to account for the syncretism of -i- only by applying the analysis already proposed for the u-syncretism./L//L/For Embick (2004), u-syncretism can be explained as a late insertion rule, which inserts an X feature in v when the verb's external argument contains a non-full (e.g. clitic) DP. In this sense, the syncretism is a consequence of the insertion of a certain phonological exponent, as a result of a vocabulary item rule which identifies the phonological exponent with the X feature. In this work, I propose that the feature late insertion rule proposed by Embick (2004) can be read as a rule of restriction: the feature X is inserted if and only if the external DP attends to some restriction requirements. Thus, Georgian data can be accounted for by postulating a rule that has a different kind of external DP restriction than the one used to explain u-syncretism in languages such as Modern Greek and Romanian./L//L/The determination of the feature late insertion rule present in Georgian is now the main goal of the present work, which aims to provide a uniform analysis of the -i- morpheme's syncretism rather than offering one analysis for the unaccusative-like contexts and another one for the other contexts. It may also have an impact on the theories of the Architecture of the Grammar, corroborating a Syntactic Hypothesis of morphological argument expression and arguing against a Lexicalist analysis of such phenomena (as in Reinhart (1997), Reinhat & Siloni (2004)), which have proven to be more complex and less explanatory.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: In Progress
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