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Chinese Syntax in a Cross-Linguistic Perspective$
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Audrey Li, Andrew Simpson, and Wei-Tien Dylan Tsai

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199945658

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945658.001.0001

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Agents in Mandarin and Igbo Resultatives

Agents in Mandarin and Igbo Resultatives

(p.270) 11 Agents in Mandarin and Igbo Resultatives
Chinese Syntax in a Cross-Linguistic Perspective

Alexander Williams

Oxford University Press

A resultative complex predicate may include an agentive verb, as cut open includes cut. This chapter asks how best to describe variation between Mandarin, Igbo, and English in two features of such resultatives. First, while they can generally occur in unaccusative clauses in Mandarin, with the implied agent unexpressed, this is never possible in English, and in Igbo it depends on the verb. Second, when they inhabit a transitive clause the subject must name the agent of the verb’s event in Igbo and English, but not Mandarin. Initially this suggests that agentive verbs have their agents as lexical arguments, sometimes in Igbo and always in English. But this leads to unattractive complications. The chapter discusses an alternative, of taking the meaning of the construction to be somewhat narrower in Igbo and English than Mandarin.

Keywords:   resultatives, lexical argument, agents, events, Mandarin, Igbo

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