Passive and argument structure

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This paper argues that argument structure does not exist in the sense of a lexical specification of the number and types of arguments of a given verb, but, rather, that argument structure is essentially syntactic, stemming from an interaction between independently generated (syntactic) frames and the (non-linguistic) conceptual content of the verb and the arguments. <br /> This connects to passivization in the sense that it is not dependent on the availability of the appropriate argument structure in the active version of the verb, such specification not existing in the first place. It is claimed that any verb that can be assigned an agentive (conceptual) reading can thus be passivized, even if it is an unaccusative verb. Thus, even though passivization is obviously a structural phenomenon, it is triggered by semantics.


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