Wednesday, August 19 - 10 AM to 12 PM in SS 2111
Ivona Kučerová (McMaster University): "The ergative puzzle."
There’s a growing body of work attempting to unify various ergativity phenomena under a common denominator, the most common denominators being aspect, (various versions of) semantic scope, and information structure. Putting aside that these unifying proposals have only a partial empirical coverage, there are other properties that these approaches cannot account for (though their technical implementations rely on them): prevalence of nominalized structures, applicative-like structures in transitive environments, and commonality of VP fronting. The empirical landscape offers itself to three possible accounts: (i) there is a common denominator but it lies elsewhere; (ii) what appears to be a unified phenomenon is in fact a conspiracy of several factors; and (iii) ergativity is an artificial construct based on Indo-European centred conception of grammar. In this presentation - more a brainstorming session - I will go over some recent ideas about factors that might underpin syntactically `special’ behaviour of arguments and how they relate to notions of locality, transitivity and argument alignment in general, in the hope of finding possible correlates expected under (i) & (ii).