Morphology and Argument Alternations
- Malka Rappaport HovavMalka Rappaport HovavDepartment of Linguistics, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Theories of argument realization typically associate verbs with an argument structure and provide algorithms for the mapping of argument structure to morphosyntactic realization. A major challenge to such theories comes from the fact that most verbs have more than one option for argument realization. Sometimes a particular range of realization options for a verb is systematic in that it is consistently available to a relatively well-defined class of verbs; it is then considered to be one of a set of recognized argument alternations. Often—but not always—these argument alternations are associated morphological marking. An examination of cross-linguistic patterns of morphology associated with the causative alternation and the dative alternation reveals that the alternation is not directly encoded in the morphology. For both alternations, understanding the morphological patterns requires an understanding of the interaction between the semantics of the verb and the construction the verb is integrated into. Strikingly, similar interactions between the verb and the construction are found in languages that do not mark the alternations morphologically, and the patterns of morphological marking in morphologically rich languages can shed light on the appropriate analysis of the alternations in languages that do not mark the alternations morphologically.