Lexicon Uniformity and the Causative Alternation

Malka Rappaport Hovav and Beth Levin

in The Theta System

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199602513
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739200 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics

Lexicon Uniformity and the Causative Alternation

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


Show Summary Details


This paper uses Reinhart's Lexicon Uniformity Principle as a context for exploring the nature of the causative alternation, focusing on alternating verbs that do not permit both variants for every choice of theme argument and verbs that have unexpected causative uses. We demonstrate that such data are problematic for an analysis such as Reinhart's and our own earlier analyses which take the causative variant as basic, deriving the anticausative variant from it by a lexical rule. We propose that the observed distributional properties follow if causative alternation verbs are taken to be lexically monadic, selecting the single argument expressed in their anticausative variant. We propose that a causative variant is available to a verb when the introduced cause argument meets a direct causation condition. We further argue that in some instances only the causative variant is available due to a proper containment condition.

Keywords: agentivity; causative alternation; change of state verbs; decausativization; direct causation; internal vs external causation; lexicon uniformity principle; polysemy; sound emission verbs

Chapter.  12095 words. 

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.