The Morphosyntax of Argument Realization:
Greek Argument Structure and the Lexicon-Syntax Interface
This dissertation presents a discussion of argument realization on the basis of theta-roles and case. Parametric variation between languages like Greek, on the one hand, and languages like Italian and French, on the other, is captured by a theory of lexico-syntactic operations on theta and case features very much based on Reinhart’s Theta System. The comparison of Greek and Italian/French reveals that Greek lacks reflexivization and reciprocal formation of benefactors, as well as certain types of impersonals. This follows from one generalization: only the argument that would otherwise appear in the accusative case may be reduced in all instances of argument alternations in Greek. These facts are explained under the hypothesis that suffixes and clitics have different case properties. The morphological reflection of argument reduction through a suffix, as in Greek, is accompanied by obligatory absorption of the verbal accusative feature. If the morphological reflection of argument reduction is manifested by a clitic, as in Italian/French, a wider array of case marking, including dative or nominative, is involved. Reflexives, reciprocals and impersonals thus appear in a larger variety of case-configurations. Two case-related operations are distinguished. Case-absorption, which originates from the Government and Binding framework of the 80s and results in the elimination of a case feature, and Case-checking, which has mostly been developed in the Minimalist framework of the 90s, and results in the expression of a case feature on a given nominal complex. It is argued that both mechanisms are needed to properly account for the behaviour of valency affecting clitics/suffixes and object clitics. This thesis is of interest to researchers concerned with argument structure realization, and the way lexical information affects the syntactic derivation, and to scholars working on Greek and on Generative Syntax more in general.