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17. Structure of the Verb Phrase


Subject Theoretical Linguistics » Syntax

Key-Topics grammar

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405198820.2012.00019.x


In this chapter, the structure of the verb phrase (VP) is analyzed. As is well known, the starting point of many works that deal with the lexicon-syntax interface is to assume that the structure of the VP is heavily determined by the lexical semantic properties of the verbal predicate. Two main approaches to the lexical semantics-syntax interface have been put forward in the literature: one based on thematic roles and one based on predicate decompositions (see Levin and Rappaport Hovav 2005 for extensive discussion of both approaches). To exemplify the first approach, a transitive verbal predicate like romper ‘to break’ is said to s(emantically)-select two theta roles : Causer and Theme, which are assigned to the external argument (i.e., the argument that is projected external to VP; but see Koopman and Sportiche 1991 for the so-called VP-internal subject hypothesis ) and the direct internal argument, respectively. Note that direct internal arguments are roughly underlying objects; indirect internal arguments are other VP-internal arguments; and external arguments are underlying subjects. Although in the generative literature theta roles are often taken as mere formal diacritics contained in a theta-grid (e.g., { Causer , Theme} ; cf. Stowell 1981), they have sometimes been mixed with their corresponding contentful thematic relationships put forward by Gruber (1965) ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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