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The Unaccusativity PuzzleExplorations of the Syntax-Lexicon Interface$
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Artemis Alexiadou, Elena Anagnostopoulou, and Martin Everaert

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199257652

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199257652.001.0001

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The Grammar Machine

The Grammar Machine

(p.288) 11 The Grammar Machine
The Unaccusativity Puzzle

Hagit Borer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates the ramifications for acquisition, of a grammatical model in which argument structure and event structure are not based on properties of vocabulary items, but rather, are associated with specific syntactic structures and projected independently of vocabulary. Within such an approach, vocabulary items dominated by a verb function as modifiers rather than as determinants of event structure. Crucially, if this model is on the right track, children acquiring language could not resort to their understanding of the meaning of a particular verb or any other information relevant to argument structure listed in individual entries to guide them into the syntactic projection of arguments. Rather, they must have syntactic knowledge on the projection of arguments and event structure independently of their knowledge of vocabulary. In turn, such children are expected to produce utterances in which the syntax of the event and the arguments and the actual verb embedded in it do not match.

Keywords:   grammar, vocabulary, verb function, children, language acquisition, syntax

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