This paper compares two different ways that natural languages have to deal with personal arguments. In ‘‘animacy-based’’ systems (exemplified here by Plains Cree) the transitive verb morphology is sensitive to the relative prominence of the external and internal arguments on an animacy hierarchy, and furthermore, the verb agrees in person with the most animate argument. In languages like Italian, instead, the relative animacy status of the external and internal arguments does not affect the transitive verb morphology, and the finite verb agrees with the syntactically highest argument in the clause (subject agreement). It is argued, first, that the animacy hierarchy is also relevant to the syntax of an apparently ‘‘non-animacy-based’’ language like Italian; second, that the animacy hierarchy is implemented as a field of functional heads which specifically check the person features of the verb’s arguments; third, that the difference between the two systems depends on the recursion of the person-checking field in languages like Italian, versus the projection of a single person-checking field in languages like Plains Cree.

Bianchi, V. (2006). On the syntax of personal arguments. LINGUA, 116, 2023-2067 [10.1016/j.lingua.2005.05.002].

On the syntax of personal arguments

BIANCHI, VALENTINA
2006

Abstract

This paper compares two different ways that natural languages have to deal with personal arguments. In ‘‘animacy-based’’ systems (exemplified here by Plains Cree) the transitive verb morphology is sensitive to the relative prominence of the external and internal arguments on an animacy hierarchy, and furthermore, the verb agrees in person with the most animate argument. In languages like Italian, instead, the relative animacy status of the external and internal arguments does not affect the transitive verb morphology, and the finite verb agrees with the syntactically highest argument in the clause (subject agreement). It is argued, first, that the animacy hierarchy is also relevant to the syntax of an apparently ‘‘non-animacy-based’’ language like Italian; second, that the animacy hierarchy is implemented as a field of functional heads which specifically check the person features of the verb’s arguments; third, that the difference between the two systems depends on the recursion of the person-checking field in languages like Italian, versus the projection of a single person-checking field in languages like Plains Cree.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11365/22079
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