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Linking causatives and experiencers


By: Diane Nelson

In this paper the syntactic and semantic properties of certain psych predicates in Finnish are examined. These verbs are discussed in light of theories of argument linking, particularly those which attribute fear-frighten alternations in Indo-European languages to thematic and aspectual differences between the two classes. Causative affixation is shown to derive two distinct classes of verb from two classes of base verb, one stative and one inchoative.

Unexpectedly, stative causatives in Finnish turn out to show properties of unaccusative verbs similar to the Italian piacere-class, while inchoative causatives pattern license an external argument as predicted. The linking of arguments to the syntax in these predicates is argued to be predictable not by lexical thematic role assignment or aspectual class, but from the effect of causative morphology on the argument structure of different classes of base verb.

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