Control over objects: an experimental investigation of transitive subject control

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
This thesis explores transitive subject control (TSC) phenomena using experimental syntax methodologies. Theoretical accounts of TSC are problematic. Syntactic theories either disregard TSC or find it ungrammatical (Chomsky 1980, Larson 1991, Hornstein 1999 and Manzini and Roussou 2000) while semantic theories cannot explain the structure’s rarity or reduced acceptability (Postal 1970, Jackendoff 1972, Ruzicka 1983, Chierchia 1984, and Farkas 1988). Additionally, work on corpora (Egan 2006; Jeffrey 2012) suggests that TSC is rare. A series of interconnected experiments explores these issues. Experiment one uses audio stimuli and an acceptability judgment task to assess the acceptability of TSC. Experiment two employs a self-paced reading task to test for processing difficulties associated with TSC. Experiment three uses an acceptability judgment task to test the effect of both syntactic and semantic violations. The results of these experiments suggest that TSC is of reduced acceptability and is associated with processing delays. It is argued that both syntactic and semantic strategies of interpreting TSC are available simultaneously and that the conflict between these derives the reduced acceptability observed.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Pappas, Panayiotis
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etd8388_MJeffrey.pdf 3 MB