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Understanding Predication


Edited By Piotr Stalmaszczyk

This book investigates the linguistic status of predication, especially within the generative paradigm. The topics discussed include minimalist accounts of predication, types of predication, copular constructions, topic and focus, theticity and transitivity. The contributions analyze constructions from a wide variety of languages, including English, Polish, Irish, Welsh, Norwegian, German, Arabic, Ostyak, Mongolian, Japanese and Chinese. This book contributes to contemporary debates on understanding predication in linguistics and in the philosophy of language.

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Theticity and Transitivity (David Basilico)


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David Basilico

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Theticity and Transitivity1

Abstract: This paper shows that the formal distinctions between high and low transitivity clauses, in the sense of Hopper and Thompson (1980), parallels the formal distinctions between categorical and thetic clauses, in the sense of Brentano and Marty. Objects of high transitivity clauses, like subjects of categorical clauses, must be present, often show agreement with the verb, appear with a structural case, and are interpreted as definite and/or specific. Objects of low transitivity clauses can be absent, lack agreement with the verb, appear with an oblique case, and need not be interpreted as definite or specific, often being interpreted as indefinite or non-specific. In addition, high transitivity clauses, like categorical clauses, contribute to the foreground of the discourse, while low transitivity clauses, like thetic clauses, contribute to the background. This paper argues that these parallels are best captured syntactically. High transitivity objects and categorical subjects are alike in that they appear in a functional projection outside of the VP, while low transitivity objects and thetic subjects appear within the VP projection. Thus, the formal parallels between these types of arguments, subject or object, result from their syntactic position within a functional projection or within the VP. The objects of high transitivity clauses can be seen as the ‘inner’ subjects of an ‘inner’ categorical predication, while the objects of low transitivity clauses can be seen as the ‘inner’ subjects of an ‘inner’...

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