UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 10 (1998)

Aphasic evidence for the syntactic determination of unaccusativity


In this paper I introduce some data from an aphasic patient who demonstrates a robust effect of grammatical class; he is unable to read any function words, and makes characteristic 'within-category' substitution errors. These errors extend to the class of unaccusative verbs, and this leads to a consideration of the functional nature of unaccusativity. Existing accounts of unaccusativity as a syntactic reflex of some semantic property are discussed, and a proposal for a syntactic account of unaccusativity is outlined. The aphasic deficit as we understand it seems to provide evidence in favour of a purely syntactic determination of unaccusativity.

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