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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

It is widely assumed that ergativity is not a primitive phenomenon but derives from a constellation of properties. This chapter demonstrates that we find similar structural constellations in the layer of structure where speech act relations are introduced. In particular, it is argued that speech act structure consists of a grounding layer, where the speaker’s or the addressee’s commitment towards the proposition are encoded. The second layer of SA-structure is dedicated to the response system of language: e.g., what the speaker wants the addressee to do with the utterance. Each of these layers can come in different guises, in much the same way as argument-structure can be transitive, ergative, or unergative. This lends support to the idea that ergativity is not a primitive phenomenon but also sheds new light on the syntax of speech acts suggesting that they typology of speech acts is more complicated than typically assumed.

Keywords: ergative verbs, unergative verbs, unaccusative verbs, speech acts, transitivity, speech act modification

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