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Applicative Arguments

A Syntactic and Semantic Investigation of German and English


Solveig Bosse

Applicative Arguments: A Syntactic and Semantic Investigation of German and English presents formal semantic and syntactic analyses of German and English applicative arguments. These arguments are nominal elements that are not obligatory parts of a sentence. Both German and English have several types of applicative arguments, including so-called benefactive and malefactive constructions. More specifically, the research relies on tests to differentiate the different types of applicative arguments based on this contribution to meaning: Some applicatives contribute only not-at-issue meaning, whereas others contribute only at-issue meaning, and still others contribute both types of meaning. These tests are applied to both German and English to uniquely identify the applicative arguments in each language. Formal analyses of the identified type of applicative arguments are presented that provide an account for each type of applicative identified for each language, explaining the applicatives’ differences and similarities.
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4 Not-At-Issue Applicative Arguments


4.1 Introduction

As shown in section 3.9.2, Hebrew and French have applicative arguments that contribute only not-at-issue meaning. In this chapter, I discuss such applicative arguments with only not-at-issue for German and English. Both of these languages have subject co-referential applicative arguments (166) that contribute only not-at-issue meaning. In addition, German has a so-called ethical dative not-at-issue applicative (165). These constructions share their not-at-issue contribution and their form: they are all weak pronouns. After investigating each of these types of applicative arguments individually, I will briefly explore the relationship of being an applicative argument with only not-at-issue meaning and being a weak pronoun in section 4.4. This also includes a discussion of their status in the system of CIs presented by Potts (2005).

First, I discuss German ethical datives (165) in section 4.2. Gutzmann (2007) argues that these contribute only not-at-issue meaning. While I agree with this, I will provide a different analysis than Gutzmann by taking their restricted occurrence into account. Second, I analyze subject co-referential appli­cative arguments of English (166a) and German (166b) in section 4.3. Horn (2009) proposes that these applicatives contribute not-at-issue meaning. I provide a formal analysis of them, which is missing from his account. My investigation of not-at-issue applicative arguments is concluded in section 4.5.

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