Unmarked transitivity

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Recent experimental evidence suggests that a prototypical concept of transitive events (“unmarked transitivity”), which has proven a useful descriptive notion in language typological research, also plays a crucial role during real time language comprehension. In this chapter, we review neurocognitive evidence for unmarked transitivity from both a neuroanatomical (spatial) and neurophysiological (temporal) perspective. We further show how unmarked transitivity, which we characterise as the default realisation of a more general requirement for argument distinctness, can be integrated into a comprehensive model of cross-linguistic language comprehension. Finally, we discuss possible consequences of the comprehension findings for theoretical characterisations of language architecture, with a particular focus on Role and Reference Grammar.


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