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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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Unaccusativity as Telicity Checking

Unaccusativity as Telicity Checking

(p.60) 2 Unaccusativity as Telicity Checking
The Unaccusativity Puzzle

Angeliek van Hout

Oxford University Press

Which lexical-semantic properties determine unaccusativity—the division of intransitive verbs into two syntactically distinct classes—and how does the lexicon-syntax mapping system account for this? This chapter argues that a single factor plays a role in Dutch: telicity. No effects are attested for agentivity or notions such as internal versus external control. It proposes a configurational theory of unaccusativity which is driven by feature checking of this aspectual feature, and has no use for thematic roles. The role of telicity in the lexicon-syntax interface of two-argument verbs predicts the syntax of one-argument verbs: telic one-argument verbs are unaccusative, whereas atelic one-argument verbs are unergative. Two-argument verbs need to project a direct object in order to establish a telic interpretation. This generalization is modeled at the lexicon-syntax interface where the aspectual feature of telicity must be syntactically checked in object position; specifically, Agr OP is the locus of telicity checking.

Keywords:   telicity, Dutch, lexicon, semantics, unaccusativity

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