Quirky alternations of transitivity: The case of ingestive predicates

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This chapter shows that the cross-linguistically robust transitivity pattern exhibited by verbs of ingestion (<i>eat</i>, <i>drink</i>, <i>swallow</i>, <i>taste</i>, etc.) can be accounted for by appealing to a rich Lexical Conceptual Structure (LCS). The key claim is that ingestive predicates are ditransitive at the level of Conceptual Structure with an Agent, Theme/Patient and Goal arguments. We argue that the crucial property of ingestive predicates that is responsible for some of their marked transitivity behaviour is that the Agent and Goal arguments are co-indexed at the level of LCS. In particular, when the Agent argument fails to project (sanctioned by the co-indexation property), the verb may exhibit morphosyntactic behaviour that is normally associated with typical intransitive predicates.


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