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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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Acquiring Unaccusativity: A Cross-Linguistic look

Acquiring Unaccusativity: A Cross-Linguistic look

(p.332) 12 Acquiring Unaccusativity: A Cross-Linguistic look
The Unaccusativity Puzzle

Janet Randall

Angeliek van Hout

Jürgen Weissenborn

Harald Baayen

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a discussion of linking rules across languages. It then discusses the semantics of unaccusatives and an experiment to test the semantic factors in linking rules. It argues that syntactic unaccusativity is determined by meaning in both German and Dutch. Two semantic factors appear to determine unaccusativity—[telicity] and [actor]. Subjects use the Telicity Linking Rule for verbs with detectable endpoints, classifying them as unaccusative. They also sometimes use the Actor Linking Rule to classify verbs with detectable actors as unergative. When both an endpoint and an actor are present for a given verb, subjects classify the verb as unaccusative. Thus, the Telicity Linking Rule appears to take priority over the Actor Linking Rule. This was related to the geometry of their conceptual Structure representations.

Keywords:   language learning, syntactic, unaccusativity, linking rules, German, Dutch, Telicity Linking Rule, Actor Linking Rule

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