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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article adopts a syntactic perspective on issues traditionally considered within the domain of lexical semantics and argument structure. It also addresses the organization and licensing of arguments in the syntax across widely disparate languages and argues (i) that argument placement, licensing, and interpretation are fundamentally syntactic, and (ii) that languages differ in whether argument licensing is determined by the functional projections dedicated to case and agreement (in the Tense Phrase layer), or whether argument licensing is determined by the functional projections dedicated to discourse roles (in the Complementizer Phrase [CP] layer). Event interpretation is influenced by the syntactic structure in the A-system. In the Algonquian languages, arguments are licensed in the CP layer, using Topic, Focus, and Point of View. The variation across languages observed suggests substantial differences, not in the functional architecture of the languages, but in the layer of functional structure that licenses the arguments.

Keywords: lexical semantics, argument structure, argument licensing, syntactic structure, Algonquian languages, A-system

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