The middle construction and the syntax-semantics interface

Peter Ackema, Maaike Schoorlemmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

English and Dutch middle verbs have a grammatical subject that is the corresponding transitive verb's object. In this paper we will account for this fact by invoking the properties of a pre-syntactic level of semantic representation and its interplay with syntax proper. We will argue that the grammatical subject of a middle is its actual external argument, and we will propose a model of projection of arguments that allows for this. We will show that other special properties of middle constructions follow from the way the verb's logical subject is represented at the pre-syntactic level of representation. In particular, it will be shown that the Affectedness Condition on middle formation is not a condition on the type of argument that can appear as the middle verb's grammatical subject, but that its effects and some exceptions to it naturally follow from this representation. Our model will also allow an account of Dutch impersonal and â??adjunctâ?? middles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59 - 90
Number of pages31
JournalLingua
Volume93
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1994

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