Genericity in English Middle Constructions

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Sohn, YouMee
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Seoul National University Department of English Language and Literature
SNU Working Papers in English Language and Linguistics 1, 109-126.
middle constructionsgenericitycharacterizingpropertywell-formedness constraintimplicit argument
Middle constructions in English show several peculiar properties. This paper analyzes English middle constructions with respect to their generic meaning. It proposes that the genericity in English middle constructions is distinguished from that of other generic sentences, in that subjects in middles are "differentiated" from other entities. By proposing a constraint, we provide an account of well-formedness of middles in regard to adverbial modification and adjunct middles, which have not been properly explained. In addition, this paper attempts to clarify the genericity of an implicit argument in middles. The implicit argument, which is typically an agent, generally has generic meaning. We show that the assignment of a generic feature to the syntactically unrealized external argument allows us to interpret middle sentences with a generic agent except when they appear with a for-phrase.
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College of Humanities (인문대학)English Language and Literature (영어영문학과)SNU working papers in English language and linguisticsSNU working papers in English language and linguistics Vol.01 (2002)
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