Functional Constraints in Grammar

On the unergative–unaccusative distinction

| Harvard University
| Tokyo Metropolitan University
ISBN 9789027218216 (Eur) | EUR 99.00
ISBN 9781588115553 (USA) | USD 149.00
e-Book Buy from our e-platform
ISBN 9789027295217 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
This book examines in detail the acceptability status of sentences in the following five English constructions, and elucidates the syntactic, semantic, and functional requirements that the constructions must satisfy in order to be appropriately used: There-Construction, (One’s) Way Construction, Cognate Object Construction, Pseudo-Passive Construction, and Extraposition from Subject NPs. It has been argued in the frameworks of Chomskyan generative grammar, relational grammar, conceptual semantics and other syntactic theories that the acceptability of sentences in these constructions can be accounted for by the unergative–unaccusative distinction of intransitive verbs. However, this book shows through a wide range of sentences that none of these constructions is sensitive to this distinction. For each construction, it shows that acceptability status is determined by a given sentence's semantic function as it interacts with syntactic constraints (which are independent of the unergative–unaccusative distinction), and with functional constraints that apply to it in its discourse context.
[Constructional Approaches to Language, 1]  2004.  ix, 242 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. The there-construction and unaccusativity
3. The way construction and unergativity
Co-authored with Karen Courtenay and Nan Decker
4. The cognate object construction and unergativity
5. The pseudo-passive construction and unergativity
6. Extraposition from subject NPs and unaccusativity
7. Conclusion
Name index
Subject index
“[...] highly recommended to both generative and functional syntacticians.”
“Kuno and Takami's book ranks among the best books on syntactic issues published in the last year. [...] The methodological strenght of the volume renders the volume an important tool for teaching the cautious analysis of linguistics issues.”
“[...] the book is challenging to generative grammarians who accept unaccusative hypothesis, as well as informative for functional grammarians who are interested in how the syntactic phenomena widely discussed in generative grammar are to be handled from the perspective of functional syntax. [...] K&T's intention of showing 'how dangerous it is linguistic research to draw sweeping generalizations on the basis of a limited set of data' is successfully accomplished. Their emphasis on emperical data is particularly important to linguistic research aiming for descriptive adeguacy. No future descriptive research on the constructions discussed in the book can ignore K&T's contribution.”
BIC Subject: CF – Linguistics
BISAC Subject: LAN009000 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2004055096
Cited by

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Clary, Todd
2014. The unaccusative hypothesis and case selection of cognate complements in Latin. Glotta 90:1-4  pp. 87 ff.
Deal, Amy Rose
2009. The Origin and Content of Expletives: Evidence from “Selection”. Syntax 12:4  pp. 285 ff.
Gafter, Roey J.
2014. The Distribution of the Hebrew Possessive Dative Construction: Guided by Unaccusativity or Prominence?. Linguistic Inquiry 45:3  pp. 482 ff.
Zhang, Niina Ning
2018. Non-canonical objects as event kind-classifying elements. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

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