The Origin and Content of Expletives: Evidence from “Selection”

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The Origin and Content of Expletives: Evidence from “Selection”

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Title: The Origin and Content of Expletives: Evidence from “Selection”
Author: Deal, Amy Rose
Citation: Deal, Amy Rose. 2009. The origin and content of expletives: Evidence from “selection”. Syntax 12(4): 285-323.
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Abstract: While expletive there has primarily been studied in the context of the existential construction, it has long been known that some but not all lexical verbs are compatible with there-insertion. This paper argues that there-insertion can be used to diagnose vPs with no external argument, ruling out transitives, unergatives, and also inchoatives, which are argued to project an event argument on the edge of vP. Based on the tight link between there-insertion and low functional structure, I build a case for low there-insertion, where the expletive is first merged in the specifier of a verbalizing head v. The low merge position is motivated by a stringently local relation that holds between there and its associate DP; this relation plays a crucial role in the interaction of there with raising verbs, where local agreement rules out cases of “too many theres” such as *There seemed there to be a man in the room. An account of these cases in terms of phase theory is explored, ultimately suggesting that there must be merged in a non-thematic phasal specifier position.
Published Version: doi:10.1111/j.1467-9612.2009.00127.x
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