Syntactic categories and lexical argument structure

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Differences between languages in the syntactic categories they instantiate may lead to parametric variation, as syntactic categories constrain possible argument structures. The Dravidian language Kannada is argued to be typical of overt case-SOV languages in having only the categories N and V: P and A (argued to be N plus case) develop only as case weakens; as does the verb <i>have </i>(i.e. <i>be </i>plus case). We seek to explain thus the ubiquity of the dative experiencer in Kannada, and its vestigial presence in English; and the absence of <i>have </i>in Kannada. We also explain an observation that languages which have serial verb constructions lack PP structures, showing that English has serial verb constructions with imperfect and negative participles but not with perfect participles. This gap arises from the way case is incorporated into participles in English to form adjectives (and currently explained in terms of the category of these participles); in Kannada, verbal participles uniformly retain their case.


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