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The Sumerian Conjugation Prefixes as a System of Voice
The so-called Sumerian conjugation prefixes are the most poorly understood and perplexing elements of Sumerian verbal morphology. Approaching the problem from a functional-typological perspective and basing the analysis upon semantics, Professor Woods argues that these elements, in their primary function, constitute a system of grammatical voice, in which the active voice is set against the middle voice. The latter is represented by heavy and light markers that differ with respect to focus and emphasis. As a system of grammatical voice, the conjugation prefixes provided Sumerian speakers with a linguistic means of altering the perspective from which events may be viewed, giving speakers a series of options for better approximating in language the infinitely graded spectrum of human conceptualization and experience.

"Woods is to be commended for establishing a new precedent for analyzing Sumerian grammar which will hopefully become a model for future studies of the language."
Paul Delnero, Johns Hopkins University
In: The Grammar of Perspective
In: The Grammar of Perspective
In: The Grammar of Perspective
In: The Grammar of Perspective
In: The Grammar of Perspective
In: The Grammar of Perspective
In: Basque and Romance

Abstract

This article proposes a new approach to restructuring which unites complex head approaches with a bare VP complementation approach. With the former, I argue that restructuring involves incorporation, however, in contrast to complex head (V-V) approaches, I argue that only the voice head of a restructuring complement undergoes incorporation. With the VP complementation approach, I assume that a restructuring complement contains a syntactically and semantically independent VP. In contrast to the bare VP complementation approach, however, I propose that restructuring complements also involve a voice head (but no embedded subject). Motivation for a voice head in restructuring comes from the subject interpretation of the embedded predicate, German stem allomorphy, and voice marking in several Austronesian languages. This hybrid account has the advantage that argument structure ‘sharing’ only applies to the subject of a restructuring configuration, whereas the remaining argument and event structure properties of the matrix and embedded VPs remain separate, which is supported by cross-linguistic properties pointing to the morphological, syntactic, and semantic independence of the two VPs. The account proposed achieves a larger empirical coverage than previous accounts and also improves in several respects on the theoretical details of previous analyses.

In: Approaches to Complex Predicates
Author: Peter Svenonius

Abstract

In this paper it is proposed that a basic difference in structural dependency, the difference between selected complements of a head on the one hand and unselected adjuncts to a projection of a head on the other, correlates with a basic interpretive difference which is central to understanding the range of complex predicate constructions. Adjuncts, such as depictive predicates, are interpreted as conjuncts, as is commonly assumed. The standard assumption about complements is that their interpretation is by function application, where the specifics are then determined by the semantics of the selecting head. Here it is proposed that there is a common interpretive core to complementation, one which is monotonic and in some abstract sense mereological. This applies both to extended projections and to complements which are embedded in another extended projection, and is exemplified by resultatives as well as other secondary predicate types. The interpretation is monotonic in the sense that the selecting head preserves the interpretation of the complement, elaborating on it. It is mereological in the related sense that the complement is interpreted as an integral part of the interpretation of the whole.

In: Approaches to Complex Predicates