LSA 319: Syntax of argument structure

Robert D. Van Valin, Jr. | six-week course | TuTh 3:30 – 5:15, 2060 Valley Life Sciences Building (VLSB)

The argument structure of verbs and other predicators plays a central role in theories of the syntax-semantics interface, and in this course this role will be explored from a number of different theoretical perspectives. After reviewing the basics of semantic roles and the lexical representation of predicators, the focus will be on the linking of the elements in the argument structure into the syntax. This will involve discussions of grammatical relations, in particular grammatical-relations changing phenomena like voice and object alternations such as applicatives, dative shift and the locative alternation, in which the same set of semantic arguments can be realized in different syntactic configurations. Alternative theoretical analyses of these phenomena will be discussed, and the general issue of projectionist vs. constructionist conceptions of the relationship between argument structure, lexical representation and syntax will be explored. Data from a typologically wide range of languages will be brought to bear on the discussion throughout the course.

Reading: Robert Van Valin, Jr., Exploring the syntax-semantics interface and selected materials available online.

Prerequisites: A basic introduction to syntax.

Areas of linguistics: Syntax, semantics, and morphology

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