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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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Unaccusative Syntax and Verbal Alternations

Unaccusative Syntax and Verbal Alternations

(p.137) 5 Unaccusative Syntax and Verbal Alternations
The Unaccusativity Puzzle

David Embick

Oxford University Press

‘Unaccusative syntax’ is understood as referring to cases in which an external argument is not projected. Unaccusative syntax is found both in unaccusatives in the standard sense, as well as in passives, which are syntactically intransitive in lacking an external argument, but nevertheless agentive. The structural factor uniting these contexts, the absence of an external argument, underlies a number of cross-linguistically common syncretisms—that is, cases of identical morphological realization in distinct syntactico-semantic contexts. Syncretisms of this type, in which disparate syntactic constructions show ‘the same’ or similar morphology, are crucial to the understanding of the manner in which syntax and morphology relate to each other and to other parts of the grammar. Much of the chapter is devoted to showing the role that unaccusative syntax plays in defining such syncretisms as those mentioned. Section 5.2 discusses the importance of the unaccusative analysis of reflexives in the analysis of patterns such as that alluded to above. Section 5.3 discusses the nature of the morphological syncretism that centres on unaccusative syntax, and shows that it arises by morphology being sensitive to the absence of an external argument. Section 5.4 discusses alternatives to the analysis presented in sections 5.2 and 5.3, while Section 5.5 concludes.

Keywords:   unaccusative syntax, syncretisms, reflexives, morphology, passives, structual factor

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