11. Relating participants across asymmetric events: Conceptual constraints on obligatory control

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This chapter discusses a specific type of asymmetric events, namely a configuration where a non-expressed participant in a subordinate event must be identical with a participant in the superordinate event of which it is a part. The phenomenon is known as “obligatory control” in generative grammar and illustrated by sentences such as <i>John begged Mary to play computer games with him</i>, in which the main clause argument <i>Mary </i>determines (“controls”) the reference of the understood subject in the infinitive clause. Traditionally, obligatory control has often been regarded as a purely formal relation, describable in terms of a Minimal Distance Principle or some other syntactic constraint. Approaches that rely on the notion of thematic role have also been proposed. In contrast, the present contribution, following work by Köpcke and Panther, develops a conceptual-pragmatic account of obligatory control. It is claimed that control involves a matching process between <i>conceptual-pragmatic </i>roles of a participant in the superordinate clause and the understood subject of the embedded non-finite clause. Two Pragmatic Role Identity Principles account for the basic facts of obligatory control into non-finite complement clauses in English and German. These principles provide a unified account of a large class of cases of obligatory control phenomena involving syntactic subject control, object control, and control shift.


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