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Semitic causatives and inchoatives: Their implication to the syntax-morphology interface and aspectuality

Abdullah Saad Al-Dobaian

Ph.D. Thesis, 2002


This thesis examines Arabic and Hebrew causatives and their implications to the morphology-syntax interface and aspecuality. There are two types of causatives in Arabic and Hebrew: verbal and de-adjectival causatives. It is argued that Li's Lexical Mapping Hypothesis (LMH) (forthcoming) predicts the distinctions between the two types of causatives. Arguments supporting the distinctions are based on binding, passivization, adverb modification, paradigm opacity and transparency. It is explained that the differences between the two causative types stem from whether the causative is projected syntactically into a bi-clausal structure or not in accordance to the LMH. I argue that verbal causatives in Arabic and Hebrew are represented syntactically as a bi-clausal structure. However the de-adjectival causatives in these two languages are represented as a mono-clausal structure in syntax. Borer (1991) argues that the Hebrew inchoatives are syntactic based on the use of adjectival modifiers and dative clitics. It is argued however that the Hebrew inchoatives do not create any problems to the LMH. The inchoative has a mono-clausal structure just like the de-adjectival causatives. The adjectival modification and the clitic behavior are argued to be better explained by aspectual theory. More specifically, it is explained that the inchoative has two event structures that reflect two different forms in syntax: unergative and ergative. Furthermore dative clitics are shown to be means of marking the affectee role.

Department of Linguistics University of Wisconsin-Madison

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