An important discussion in theories of argument structure concerns the explanatory division of labor between thematic properties and event structure. English get-passives, analyzed in much previous work as differing thematically from be-passives, provide an interesting test case. We present an analysis of get-passives centered on the proposal that they contain additional event structure (realized as get) relative to their be counterparts. We employ by-adjuncts to identify the different event structures in passive types, and use other diagnostics to support our analysis. Further discussion considers the prominent proposal from previous studies that get-passives differ thematically from be-passives in (sometimes) assigning an Agent role to their surface subjects. We show that contrasts between get and be on this dimension are a consequence of event-structural differences between the two. The result is a unified analysis of the get-passive that has implications for the role of event structure in understanding the syntax and interpretation of arguments.
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April 19 2021
On the Event-Structural Properties of the English Get-Passive
Online Issn: 1530-9150
Print Issn: 0024-3892
© 2020 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linguistic Inquiry 1–44.
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Alison Biggs, David Embick; On the Event-Structural Properties of the English Get-Passive. Linguistic Inquiry 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/ling_a_00405
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