Arguments as Relations

Overview

In Arguments as Relations, John Bowers proposes a radically new approach to argument structure that has the potential to unify data from a wide range of different language types in terms of a simple and universal syntactic structure. In many ways, Bowers's theory is the natural extension of three leading ideas in the literature: the minimalist approach to Case theory (particularly Chomsky's idea that Case is assigned under the Agree function relation); the idea of introducing arguments in specifiers of functional...

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Overview

In Arguments as Relations, John Bowers proposes a radically new approach to argument structure that has the potential to unify data from a wide range of different language types in terms of a simple and universal syntactic structure. In many ways, Bowers's theory is the natural extension of three leading ideas in the literature: the minimalist approach to Case theory (particularly Chomsky's idea that Case is assigned under the Agree function relation); the idea of introducing arguments in specifiers of functional categories rather than in projections of lexical categories; and the neo-Davidsonian approach to argument structure represented in the work of Parsons and others. Bowers pulls together these strands in the literature and shapes them into a unified theory.

These ideas, together with certain basic assumptions--notably the idea that the initial order of merge of the three basic argument categories of Agent, Theme, and
Affectee is just the opposite of what has been almost universally assumed in the literature--lead
Bowers to a fundamental rethinking of argument structure. He proposes that every argument is merged as the specifier of a particular type of light verb category and that these functional argument categories merge in bottom-to-top fashion in accordance with a fixed Universal Order of Merge (UOM).
In the hierarchical structures that result from these operations, Affectee arguments will be highest, Theme arguments next highest, and Agent arguments lowest--exactly the opposite of the usual assumption.

Linguistic Inquiry Monographs 58

The MIT Press

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Bowers's creative yet formally simple proposals turn received wisdom about the syntactic side of argument structure on its head — literally. *Arguments as Relations* shows how a hierarchy for arguments that is the precise opposite of the standard view solves puzzle after puzzle in virtually every domain where semantics and grammatical relations interact." David Pesetsky,MIT

"Arguments as Relations aims at nothing less than a complete typology of argument structure. It defends the view that there is a single, universal method for introducing arguments into a clause, and then systematically goes through all the ways in which that method gives the differing results evident cross-linguistically. All the familiar languages and grammatical function operations are brought under one simple theory." Kyle Johnson, University of MassachusettsAmherst

David Pesetsky

Bowers's creative yet formally simple proposals turn received wisdom about the syntactic side of argument structure on its head -- literally. Arguments as
Relations
shows how a hierarchy for arguments that is the precise opposite of the standard view solves puzzle after puzzle in virtually every domain where semantics and grammatical relations interact.

Kyle Johnson

Arguments as Relations aims at nothing less than a complete typology of argument structure. It defends the view that there is a single, universal method for introducing arguments into a clause, and then systematically goes through all the ways in which that method gives the differing results evident cross-linguistically. All the familiar languages and grammatical function operations are brought under one simple theory.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262514330
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 7/30/2010
  • Series: Linguistic Inquiry Monographs , #58
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 985,719
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

John Bowers is Professor of Linguistics and Chair of the Linguistics Department at Cornell
University.
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Table of Contents

Series Foreword ix

Preface xi

1 Introduction and Overview 1

1.1 The Origins of Hierarchical Structure in Syntax 3

1.2 Syntactic Arguments vs. Thematic Roles 6

1.3 The Theory 15

1.4 Intransitives, Locative Inversion, and Expletive there 26

2 Passive 31

2.1 The Passive by-Phrase 31

2.2 Collins's (2005) Smuggling Analysis of Passive 47

2.3 Is PartP Needed in the English Auxiliary System? 59

2.4 The Syntax of Predicate Adjectives 64

3 Affectee Arguments 77

3.1 Dative Alternations 77

3.2 Types of Affectees 87

3.3 Russian 103

3.4 Argument Structure and Scope 109

4 Grammatical Function Changing Morphology 117

4.1 Applicative Constructions 117

4.2 A Typology of Function-Changing Morphology 132

4.3 Causativization 140

5 Derived Nominals 165

5.1 Nominal Categories 165

5.2 Argument Categories in Nominals 167

5.3 The Morphological Realization of Argument Categories in Nominals: Derivational Morphology and Compounding as Syntax 183

5.4 Conclusion 193

6 Conclusion 195

Appendix A A Compositional Semantics for Argument Heads 197

Appendix B First Application of Merge 201

Notes 203

References 221

Index 233

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