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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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A Semantics for Unaccusatives and its Syntactic Consequences

A Semantics for Unaccusatives and its Syntactic Consequences

(p.22) 1 A Semantics for Unaccusatives and its Syntactic Consequences
The Unaccusativity Puzzle

Gennaro Chierchia

Oxford University Press

Since its original formulation, the unaccusative hypothesis has played a major role in linguistic theory, as it raises fundamental questions on the nature of grammatical relations and on the syntax-semantics map. The central idea at the basis of the Unaccusative Hypothesis is that the surface subject of a class of intransitives really is, at some level, an object. This chapter outlines an explicit (truth-conditional) semantics for unaccusatives and explores its consequences for syntax. It takes the moves from Burzio's proposal concerning the syntactic structures associated with unaccusatives and provides a semantics for such structures. It argues that this semantics sheds light on phenomena previously unaccounted for (pertaining to the interaction of unaccusatives and reflexives and to aspectual properties of unaccusatives) and leads to a new formulation of the aux-selection process in Italian, superior to the options currently available.

Keywords:   Unaccusative Hypothesis, syntax, Burzio, semantics, Italian

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