Change in Aspect and Argument Structure
Elly van Gelderen, Arizona State University
By sketching some of the changes that affect the argument structure throughout the history of English, I shed light on the universality of the aspectual division in manner and result, the major theta-roles that depend on this, and the special status of the Theme. For instance, I show that unaccusatives are reanalyzed as causatives or copulas, due to the persistence of the Theme, but not as unergatives or unergatives as unaccusatives. Object experiencers are reanalyzed as subject experiencers but not the other way round. The reason for this is that verbs hang on to their basic aspectual classification and their Themes, and that the appearance of certain theta-roles is constrained by others.