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Applied Objects and the Syntax–Semantics Interface

Jerro, Kyle (2021) 'Applied Objects and the Syntax–Semantics Interface.' Journal of Linguistics, 57 (2). 365 - 403. ISSN 0022-2267

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Abstract

This paper investigates the syntax–semantics interface within the domain of the realization of applied objects in Bantu languages, and I argue that the syntactic structure and semantic contribution of a given argument-licensing functional head (here, the applicative) do not covary. Specifically, I show that in principle, both high and low applicatives can (and should) be available with any type of applicative and not tied to a specific semantics (such as transfer of possession) or thematic role, as proposed in earlier work. Furthermore, I reject the centrality of thematic roles as a component of grammar that determines the grammatical function of applied objects, and I propose instead a typology of Bantu applied objects based on their semantic and morphological properties. This approach makes several predictions about applied objects: (i) syntactic and semantic diagnostics for high and low applicatives need not pattern together, (ii) syntactic asymmetry (such as c-command) can arise for applied objects which pattern symmetrically with other diagnostics (such as passivization), and (iii) the type of an applied object does not universally capture symmetry properties cross-linguistically. The view put forward in this paper provides a framework that can better capture this type of variation with object symmetry in Bantu languages as well as language-internal facts about applied objects; more generally, this paper sheds light on the nature of the syntax–semantic interface by showing that the meaning of a functional head is not necessarily determined by its syntactic position.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2021 09:36
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2021 09:36
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/31016

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