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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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Affected Experiencer: a type of applicative argument that is interpreted as psychologically affected; the referent must be sentient

Affectedness: psychological or mental impact on a person

Animacy requirement: the referent must be animate

Applicative Argument: a (nominal) constituent that is not entailed by the sentence and not required for the sentence to be grammatical

At-issue meaning: meaning that is asserted

Benefactive: a nominal constituent that denotes who is benefitting from an event; can be an applicative argument or a selected argument

Bi-eventive: a denotation that includes two event variables (of semantic type v)

Condition B: a binding condition that requires pronouns to be free (not bound) in their binding domain

Condition C: a binding condition that states that referential expressions, such as proper names, cannot be bound

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