A significant question that arises in the study of verbal alternations crosslinguistically is whether the two alternants are transformationally derived from a single argument structure (Larson1988, Baker 1988) or whether they are associated with distinct argument structures (Harley 2002, Marantz 1993). This paper provides additional evidence from Tamil for the latter, non-derivational approach. The author investigates goal and beneficiary ditransitive structures in Tamil and shows that there is a systematic syntactico-semantic alternation in these structures; furthermore, she shows that these differences correspond to differences between double-object and for/to-PP structures in languages like English (Oehrle:1976, Harley:2002), Japanese (Miyagawa:2004), Greek (Anagnostopoulou 2003, 2005), and others. Based on this, she proposes argument structures for the verbal alternants involved in the dative and benefactive alternation in Tamil: in the double-object alternant, the author proposes that the oblique argument is introduced by an applicative head which, furthermore, occurs low whereas in the to/for-PP structure, there is no such applicative head (Marantz:1993, Pylkkanen:2002). All observed asymmetries between the two alternants are shown to fall out naturally from this and related structural distinctions.
Proceedings of the 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Donald Baumer, David Montero, and Michael Scanlon
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