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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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9 Conclusion


Throughout this book, I have discussed the applicative arguments of German and English. For both languages, I have distinguish the different types based on their syntactic behavior, their meaning, and whether the meaning is contributed to the not-at-issue tier or the at-issue tier of meaning. German has three types of applicative arguments that contribute only at-issue meaning: true benefactives, Datives of Inaction, part-whole applicative arguments. It has two types of not-at-issue applicatives: ethical datives and subject co-referential applicatives. Finally, it has one type of applicative argument that contributes both at-issue and not-at-issue meaning: affected experiencers. English has one applicative for each type of meaning contribution: the affected experiencer contributes both at-issue and not-at-issue meaning, the recipient benefactive contributes only at-issue meaning, and the subject co-referential applicative contributes only not-at-issue meaning. The existence of the affected experiencer applicative arguments with both at-issue and not-at-issue meaning has shown that the system of two tiers of meaning proposed by Potts (2005) needs to be adjusted to allow for such elements.

The fact that each type of applicative argument displays unique behaviors and restrictions supports my contention that the broad categorization of applicative arguments proposed by Pyl­kkänen (2002) is not sufficient. She differentiates only two basic types of applicative argument: high and low. As I have shown, the ones that she bundles as high applicatives do not behave alike and cannot all be given the same analysis. Furthermore, the discussion of the German ethical datives has shown that...

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