Case marking in Spanish reverse psychological verbs : a lexical semantic perspective
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This dissertation is a lexical semantic study of case marking in Spanish reverse psychological verbs, which exhibit an alternation in dative-accusative case marking. Previous accounts propose a strong correlation between case marking and eventualities (Parodi & Luján 2000, Ackerman & Moore 2001). Through the use of corpus data and native speaker judgments, I first demonstrate that there is a correlation between stative reverse psychological predicates and dative case marking, while eventive reverse psychological predicates allow accusative or dative experiencers. In my alternative proposal, I postulate that case marking alternation can be accounted for by analyzing reverse psychological verbs based on whether they have two components of transitivity — agentivity and affectedness of the object. I propose that accusative case marking in reverse psychological verbs is unspecified for agentivity and carries an entailment of affectedness of the object, whereas dative case marking entails a weakening or lack of agentivity and is unspecified for affectedness of the object. As predicted by the Transitivity Hypothesis (Hopper & Thompson 1980) the findings here corroborate that the accusative vs. dative experiencer case-marking reflects the relatively higher vs. lower transitivity respectively of a given reverse psychological predicate. In two reverse psychological verb clauses that differ, the features agentivity, affectedness, and case marking co-vary in the same direction. If one clause has lower transitivity features, such as lack of agentivity, and no affectedness of the object, then the case marking also co-varies in the same direction with dative case marking and vice versa. I also claim that reverse psychological verbs that have higher transitivity are causatives. As part of making this case, I provide linguistic diagnostics to distinguish between states and events, and to identify agentivity, volitionality, and affectedness. The analysis presented here contributes to cross-linguistic and theoretical work on transitivity and causation.